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782 Phil. 292

EN BANC

[ G.R. No. 221697, March 08, 2016 ]

MARY GRACE NATIVIDAD S. POE-LLAMANZARES, PETITIONER, VS. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS AND ESTRELLA C. ELAMPARO, RESPONDENTS.

[G.R. Nos. 221698-700]

MARY GRACE NATIVIDAD S. POE-LLAMANZARES, PETITIONER, VS. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, FRANCISCO S. TATAD, ANTONIO P. CONTRERAS AND AMADO D. VALDEZ, RESPONDENTS.

D E C I S I O N

PEREZ, J.:

Before the Court are two consolidated petitions under Rule 64 in relation to Rule 65 of the Rules of Court with extremely urgent application for an ex parte issuance of temporary restraining order/status quo ante order and/or writ of preliminary injunction assailing the following: (1) 1 December 2015 Resolution of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Second Division; (2) 23 December 2015 Resolution of the COMELEC En Banc, in SPA No. 15-001 (DC); (3) 11 December 2015 Resolution of the COMELEC First Division; and (4) 23 December 2015 Resolution of the COMELEC En Banc, in SPA No. 15-002 (DC), SPA No. 15-007 (DC) and SPA No. 15-139 (DC) for having been issued without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.

The Facts

Mary Grace Natividad S. Poe-Llamanzares (petitioner) was found abandoned as a newborn infant in the Parish Church of Jaro, Iloilo by a certain Edgardo Militar (Edgardo) on 3 September 1968. Parental care and custody over petitioner was passed on by Edgardo to his relatives, Emiliano Militar (Emiliano) and his wife. Three days after, 6 September 1968, Emiliano reported and registered petitioner as a foundling with the Office of the Civil Registrar of Iloilo City (OCR-Iloilo). In her Foundling Certificate and Certificate of Live Birth, the petitioner was given the name "Mary Grace Natividad Contreras Militar."[1]

When petitioner was five (5) years old, celebrity spouses Ronald Allan Kelley Poe (a.k.a. Fenando Poe, Jr.) and Jesusa Sonora Poe (a.k.a. Susan Roces) filed a petition for her adoption with the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of San Juan City. On 13 May 1974, the trial court granted their petition and ordered that petitioner's name be changed from "Mary Grace Natividad Contreras Militar" to "Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe." Although necessary notations were made by OCR-Iloilo on petitioner's foundling certificate reflecting the court decreed adoption,[2] the petitioner's adoptive mother discovered only sometime in the second half of 2005 that the lawyer who handled petitioner's adoption failed to secure from the OCR-

Iloilo a new Certificate of Live Birth indicating petitioner's new name and the name of her adoptive parents.[3] Without delay, petitioner's mother executed an affidavit attesting to the lawyer's omission which she submitted to the OCR-Iloilo. On 4 May 2006, OCR-Iloilo issued a new Certificate of Live Birth in the name of Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe.[4]

Having reached the age of eighteen (18) years in 1986, petitioner registered as a voter with the local COMELEC Office in San Juan City. On 13 December 1986, she received her COMELEC Voter's Identification Card for Precinct No. 196 in Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila.[5]

On 4 April 1988, petitioner applied for and was issued Philippine Passport No. F927287[6] by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). Subsequently, on 5 April 1993 and 19 May 1998, she renewed her Philippine passport and respectively secured Philippine Passport Nos. L881511 and DD156616.[7]

Initially, the petitioner enrolled and pursued a degree in Development Studies at the University of the Philippines[8] but she opted to continue her studies abroad and left for the United States of America (U.S.) in 1988. Petitioner graduated in 1991 from Boston College in Chestnuts Hill, Massachusetts where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Studies.[9]

On 27 July 1991, petitioner married Teodoro Misael Daniel V. Llamanzares (Llamanzares), a citizen of both the Philippines and the U.S., at Sanctuario de San Jose Parish in San Juan City.[10] Desirous of being with her husband who was then based in the U.S., the couple flew back to the U.S. two days after the wedding ceremony or on 29 July 1991.[11]

While in the U.S., the petitioner gave birth to her eldest child Brian Daniel (Brian) on 16 April 1992.[12] Her two daughters Hanna MacKenzie (Hanna) and Jesusa Anika (Anika) were both born in the Philippines on 10 July 1998 and 5 June 2004, respectively.[13]

On 18 October 2001, petitioner became a naturalized American citizen.[14] She obtained U.S. Passport No. 017037793 on 19 December 2001.[15]

On 8 April 2004, the petitioner came back to the Philippines together with Hanna to support her father's candidacy for President in the May 2004 elections. It was during this time that she gave birth to her youngest daughter Anika. She returned to the U.S. with her two daughters on 8 July 2004.[16]

After a few months, specifically on 13 December 2004, petitioner rushed back to the Philippines upon learning of her father's deteriorating medical condition.[17] Her father slipped into a coma and eventually expired. The petitioner stayed in the country until 3 February 2005 to take care of her father's funeral arrangements as well as to assist in the settlement of his estate.[18]

According to the petitioner, the untimely demise of her father was a severe blow to her entire family. In her earnest desire to be with her grieving mother, the petitioner and her husband decided to move and reside permanently in the Philippines sometime in the first quarter of 2005.[19] The couple began preparing for their resettlement including notification of their children's schools that they will be transferring to Philippine schools for the next semester;[20] coordination with property movers for the relocation of their household goods, furniture and cars from the U.S. to the Philippines;[21] and inquiry with Philippine authorities as to the proper procedure to be followed in bringing their pet dog into the country.[22] As early as 2004, the petitioner already quit her job in the U.S.[23]

Finally, petitioner came home to the Philippines on 24 May 2005[24] and without delay, secured a Tax Identification Number from the Bureau of Internal Revenue. Her three (3) children immediately followed[25] while her husband was forced to stay in the U.S. to complete pending projects as well as to arrange the sale of their family home there.[26]

The petitioner and her children briefly stayed at her mother's place until she and her husband purchased a condominium unit with a parking slot at One Wilson Place Condominium in San Juan City in the second half of 2005.[27] The corresponding Condominium Certificates of Title covering the unit and parking slot were issued by the Register of Deeds of San Juan City to petitioner and her husband on 20 February 2006.[28] Meanwhile, her children of school age began attending Philippine private schools.

On 14 February 2006, the petitioner made a quick trip to the U.S. to supervise the disposal of some of the family's remaining household belongings.[29] She travelled back to the Philippines on 11 March 2006.[30]

In late March 2006, petitioner's husband officially informed the U.S. Postal Service of the family's change and abandonment of their address in the U.S.[31] The family home was eventually sold on 27 April 2006.[32]

Petitioner's husband resigned from his job in the U.S. in April 2006, arrived in the country on 4 May 2006 and started working for a major Philippine company in July 2006.[33]

In early 2006, petitioner and her husband acquired a 509-square meter lot in Corinthian Hills, Quezon City where they built their family home[34] and to this day, is where the couple and their children have been residing.[35] A Transfer Certificate of Title covering said property was issued in the couple's name by the Register of Deeds of Quezon City on 1 June 2006.

On 7 July 2006, petitioner took her Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines pursuant to Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9225 or the Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003.[36] Under the same Act, she filed with the Bureau of Immigration (BI) a sworn petition to reacquire Philippine citizenship together with petitions for derivative citizenship on behalf of her three minor children on 10 July 2006.[37] As can be gathered from its 18 July 2006 Order, the BI acted favorably on petitioner's petitions and declared that she is deemed to have reacquired her Philippine citizenship while her children are considered as citizens of the Philippines.[38]

Consequently, the BI issued Identification Certificates (ICs) in petitioner's name and in the names of her three (3) children.[39]

Again, petitioner registered as a voter of Barangay Santa Lucia, San Juan City on 31 August 2006.[40] She also secured from the DFA a new Philippine Passport bearing the No. XX4731999.[41] This passport was renewed on 18 March 2014 and she was issued Philippine Passport No. EC0588861 by the DFA.[42]

On 6 October 2010, President Benigno S. Aquino III appointed petitioner as Chairperson of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB).[43] Before assuming her post, petitioner executed an "Affidavit of Renunciation of Allegiance to the United States of America and Renunciation of American Citizenship" before a notary public in Pasig City on 20 October 2010,[44] in satisfaction of the legal requisites stated in Section 5 of R.A. No. 9225.[45] The following day, 21 October 2010 petitioner submitted the said affidavit to the BI[46] and took her oath of office as Chairperson of the MTRCB.[47] From then on, petitioner stopped using her American passport.[48]

On 12 July 2011, the petitioner executed before the Vice Consul of the U.S. Embassy in Manila an "Oath/Affirmation of Renunciation of Nationality of the United States."[49] On that day, she accomplished a sworn questionnaire before the U.S. Vice Consul wherein she stated that she had taken her oath as MTRCB Chairperson on 21 October 2010 with the intent, among others, of relinquishing her American citizenship.[50] In the same questionnaire, the petitioner stated that she had resided outside of the U.S., specifically in the Philippines, from 3 September 1968 to 29 July 1991 and from May 2005 to present.[51]

On 9 December 2011, the U.S. Vice Consul issued to petitioner a "Certificate of Loss of Nationality of the United States" effective 21 October 2010.[52]

On 2 October 2012, the petitioner filed with the COMELEC her Certificate of Candidacy (COC) for Senator for the 2013 Elections wherein she answered "6 years and 6 months" to the question "Period of residence in the Philippines before May 13, 2013."[53] Petitioner obtained the highest number of votes and was proclaimed Senator on 16 May 2013.[54]

On 19 December 2013, petitioner obtained Philippine Diplomatic Passport No. DE0004530.[55]

On 15 October 2015, petitioner filed her COC for the Presidency for the May 2016 Elections.[56] In her COC, the petitioner declared that she is a natural-born citizen and that her residence in the Philippines up to the day before 9 May 2016 would be ten (10) years and eleven (11) months counted from 24 May 2005.[57] The petitioner attached to her COC an "Affidavit Affirming Renunciation of U.S.A. Citizenship" subscribed and sworn to before a notary public in Quezon City on 14 October 2015.[58]

Petitioner's filing of her COC for President in the upcoming elections triggered the filing of several COMELEC cases against her which were the subject of these consolidated cases.

Origin of Petition for Certiorari in G.R. No. 221697

A day after petitioner filed her COC for President, Estrella Elamparo (Elamparo) filed a petition to deny due course or cancel said COC which was docketed as SPA No. 15-001 (DC) and raffled to the COMELEC Second Division.[59] She is convinced that the COMELEC has jurisdiction over her petition.[60] Essentially, Elamparo's contention is that petitioner committed material misrepresentation when she stated in her COC that she is a natural­born Filipino citizen and that she is a resident of the Philippines for at least ten (10) years and eleven (11) months up to the day before the 9 May 2016 Elections.[61]

On the issue of citizenship, Elamparo argued that petitioner cannot be considered as a natural-born Filipino on account of the fact that she was a foundling.[62] Elamparo claimed that international law does not confer natural­ born status and Filipino citizenship on foundlings.[63] Following this line of reasoning, petitioner is not qualified to apply for reacquisition of Filipino citizenship under R.A. No. 9225 for she is not a natural-born Filipino citizen to begin with.[64] Even assuming arguendo that petitioner was a natural-born Filipino, she is deemed to have lost that status when she became a naturalized American citizen.[65] According to Elamparo, natural-born citizenship must be continuous from birth.[66]

On the matter of petitioner's residency, Elamparo pointed out that petitioner was bound by the sworn declaration she made in her 2012 COC for Senator wherein she indicated that she had resided in the country for only six (6) years and six (6) months as of May 2013 Elections. Elamparo likewise insisted that assuming arguendo that petitioner is qualified to regain her natural-born status under R.A. No. 9225, she still fell short of the ten-year residency requirement of the Constitution as her residence could only be counted at the earliest from July 2006, when she reacquired Philippine citizenship under the said Act. Also on the assumption that petitioner is qualified to reacquire lost Philippine Citizenship, Elamparo is of the belief that she failed to reestablish her domicile in the Philippines.[67]

Petitioner seasonably filed her Answer wherein she countered that:
(1)
the COMELEC did not have jurisdiction over Elamparo's petition as it was actually a petition for quo warranto which could only be filed if Grace Poe wins in the Presidential elections, and that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has primary jurisdiction to revoke the BI's July 18, 2006 Order;
(2)
the petition failed to state a cause of action because it did not contain allegations which, if hypothetically admitted, would make false the statement in her COC that she is a natural-born Filipino citizen nor was there any allegation that there was a willful or deliberate intent to misrepresent on her part;
(3)
she did not make any material misrepresentation in the COC regarding her citizenship and residency qualifications for:
a. the 1934 Constitutional Convention deliberations show that foundlings were considered citizens;
b. foundlings are presumed under international law to have been born of citizens of the place where they are found;
c. she reacquired her natural-born Philippine citizenship under the provisions of R.A. No. 9225;
d. she executed a sworn renunciation of her American citizenship prior to the filing of her COC for President in the May 9, 2016 Elections and that the same is in full force and effect and has not been withdrawn or recanted;
e. the burden was on Elamparo in proving that she did not possess natural-born status;
f. residence is a matter of evidence and that she reestablished her domicile in the Philippines as early as May 24, 2005;
g. she could reestablish residence even before she reacquired natural-born citizenship under R.A. No. 9225;
h. statement regarding the period of residence in her 2012 COC for Senator was an honest mistake, not binding and should give way to evidence on her true date of reacquisition of domicile;
i. Elamparo's petition is merely an action to usurp the sovereign right of the Filipino people to decide a purely political question, that is, should she serve as the country's next leader.[68]
After the parties submitted their respective Memoranda, the petition was deemed submitted for resolution.

On 1 December 2015, the COMELEC Second Division promulgated a Resolution finding that petitioner's COC, filed for the purpose of running for the President of the Republic of the Philippines in the 9 May 2016 National and Local Elections, contained material representations which are false. The fallo of the aforesaid Resolution reads:
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing considerations, the instant Petition to Deny Due Course to or Cancel Certificate of Candidacy is hereby GRANTED. Accordingly, the Certificate of Candidacy for President of the Republic of the Philippines in the May 9, 2016 National and Local Elections filed by respondent Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe Llamanzares is hereby CANCELLED.[69]
Motion for Reconsideration of the 1 December 2015 Resolution was filed by petitioner which the COMELEC En Banc resolved in its 23 December 2015 Resolution by denying the same.[70]

Origin of Petition for Certiorari in GR. Nos. 221698-700

This case stemmed from three (3) separate petitions filed by Francisco S. Tatad (Tatad), Antonio P. Contreras (Contreras) and Amado D. Valdez (Valdez) against petitioner before the COMELEC which were consolidated and raffled to its First Division.

In his petition to disqualify petitioner under Rule 25 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure,[71] docketed as SPA No. 15-002 (DC), Tatad alleged that petitioner lacks the requisite residency and citizenship to qualify her for the Presidency.[72]

Tatad theorized that since the Philippines adheres to the principle of jus sanguinis, persons of unknown parentage, particularly foundlings, cannot be considered natural-born Filipino citizens since blood relationship is determinative of natural-born status.[73] Tatad invoked the rule of statutory construction that what is not included is excluded. He averred that the fact that foundlings were not expressly included in the categories of citizens in the 1935 Constitution is indicative of the framers' intent to exclude them.[74]

Therefore, the burden lies on petitioner to prove that she is a natural-born citizen.[75]

Neither can petitioner seek refuge under international conventions or treaties to support her claim that foundlings have a nationality.[76] According to Tatad, international conventions and treaties are not self-executory and that local legislations are necessary in order to give effect to treaty obligations assumed by the Philippines.[77] He also stressed that there is no standard state practice that automatically confers natural-born status to foundlings.[78]

Similar to Elamparo's argument, Tatad claimed that petitioner cannot avail of the option to reacquire Philippine citizenship under R.A. No. 9225 because it only applies to former natural-born citizens and petitioner was not as she was a foundling.[79]

Referring to petitioner's COC for Senator, Tatad concluded that she did not comply with the ten (10) year residency requirement.[80] Tatad opined that petitioner acquired her domicile in Quezon City only from the time she renounced her American citizenship which was sometime in 2010 or 2011.[81]

Additionally, Tatad questioned petitioner's lack of intention to abandon her U.S. domicile as evinced by the fact that her husband stayed thereat and her frequent trips to the U.S.[82]

In support of his petition to deny due course or cancel the COC of petitioner, docketed as SPA No. 15-139 (DC), Valdez alleged that her repatriation under R.A. No. 9225 did not bestow upon her the status of a natural-born citizen.[83] He advanced the view that former natural-born citizens who are repatriated under the said Act reacquires only their Philippine citizenship and will not revert to their original status as natural­ born citizens.[84]

He further argued that petitioner's own admission in her COC for Senator that she had only been a resident of the Philippines for at least six (6) years and six (6) months prior to the 13 May 2013 Elections operates against her. Valdez rejected petitioner's claim that she could have validly reestablished her domicile in the Philippines prior to her reacquisition of Philippine citizenship. In effect, his position was that petitioner did not meet the ten (10) year residency requirement for President.

Unlike the previous COMELEC cases filed against petitioner, Contreras' petition,[85] docketed as SPA No. 15-007 (DC), limited the attack to the residency issue. He claimed that petitioner's 2015 COC for President should be cancelled on the ground that she did not possess the ten-year period of residency required for said candidacy and that she made false entry in her COC when she stated that she is a legal resident of the Philippines for ten (10) years and eleven (11) months by 9 May 2016.[86] Contreras contended that the reckoning period for computing petitioner's residency in the Philippines should be from 18 July 2006, the date when her petition to reacquire Philippine citizenship was approved by the BI.[87] He asserted that petitioner's physical presence in the country before 18 July 2006 could not be valid evidence of reacquisition of her Philippine domicile since she was then living here as an American citizen and as such, she was governed by the Philippine immigration laws.[88]

In her defense, petitioner raised the following arguments:

First, Tatad's petition should be dismissed outright for failure to state a cause of action. His petition did not invoke grounds proper for a disqualification case as enumerated under Sections 12 and 68 of the Omnibus Election Code.[89] Instead, Tatad completely relied on the alleged lack of residency and natural-born status of petitioner which are not among the recognized grounds for the disqualification of a candidate to an elective office.[90]

Second, the petitions filed against her are basically petitions for quo warranto as they focus on establishing her ineligibility for the Presidency.[91] A petition for quo warranto falls within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) and not the COMELEC.[92]

Third, the burden to prove that she is not a natural-born Filipino citizen is on the respondents.[93] Otherwise stated, she has a presumption in her favor that she is a natural-born citizen of this country.

Fourth, customary international law dictates that foundlings are entitled to a nationality and are presumed to be citizens of the country where they are found.[94] Consequently, the petitioner is considered as a natural-born citizen of the Philippines.[95]

Fifth, she claimed that as a natural-born citizen, she has every right to be repatriated under R.A. No. 9225 or the right to reacquire her natural-born status.[96] Moreover, the official acts of the Philippine Government enjoy the presumption of regularity, to wit: the issuance of the 18 July 2006 Order of the BI declaring her as natural-born citizen, her appointment as MTRCB Chair and the issuance of the decree of adoption of San Juan RTC.[97] She believed that all these acts reinforced her position that she is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines.[98]

Sixth, she maintained that as early as the first quarter of 2005, she started reestablishing her domicile of choice in the Philippines as demonstrated by her children's resettlement and schooling in the country, purchase of a condominium unit in San Juan City and the construction of their family home in Corinthian Hills.[99]

Seventh, she insisted that she could legally reestablish her domicile of choice in the Philippines even before she renounced her American citizenship as long as the three determinants for a change of domicile are complied with.[100] She reasoned out that there was no requirement that renunciation of foreign citizenship is a prerequisite for the acquisition of a new domicilee of choice.[101]

Eighth, she reiterated that the period appearing in the residency portion of her COC for Senator was a mistake made in good faith.[102]

In a Resolution[103] promulgated on 11 December 2015, the COMELEC First Division ruled that petitioner is not a natural-born citizen, that she failed to complete the ten (10) year residency requirement, and that she committed material misrepresentation in her COC when she declared therein that she has been a resident of the Philippines for a period of ten (10) years and eleven (11) months as of the day of the elections on 9 May 2016. The COMELEC First Division concluded that she is not qualified for the elective position of President of the Republic of the Philippines. The dispositive portion of said Resolution reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Commission RESOLVED, as it hereby RESOLVES, to GRANT the Petitions and cancel the Certificate of Candidacy of MARY GRACE NATIVIDAD SONORA POE-LLAMANZARES for the elective position of President of the Republic of the Philippines in connection with the 9 May 2016 Synchronized Local and National Elections.
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration seeking a reversal of the COMELEC First Division's Resolution. On 23 December 2015, the COMELEC En Banc issued a Resolution denying petitioner's motion for reconsideration.

Alarmed by the adverse rulings of the COMELEC, petitioner instituted the present petitions for certiorari with urgent prayer for the issuance of an ex parte temporary restraining order/status quo ante order and/or writ of preliminary injunction. On 28 December 2015, temporary restraining orders were issued by the Court enjoining the COMELEC and its representatives from implementing the assailed COMELEC Resolutions until further orders from the Court. The Court also ordered the consolidation of the two petitions filed by petitioner in its Resolution of 12 January 2016. Thereafter, oral arguments were held in these cases.

The Court GRANTS the petition of Mary Grace Natividad S. Poe­ Llamanzares and to ANNUL and SET ASIDE the:
  1. Resolution dated 1 December 2015 rendered through its Second Division, in SPA No. 15-001 (DC), entitled Estrella C. Elamparo, petitioner, vs. Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe-Llamanzares.

  2. Resolution dated 11 December 2015, rendered through its First Division, in the consolidated cases SPA No. 15-002 (DC) entitled Francisco S. Tatad, petitioner, vs. Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe-Llamanzares, respondent; SPA No. 15-007 (DC) entitled Antonio P. Contreras, petitioner, vs. Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe-Llamanzares, respondent; and SPA No. 15-139 (DC) entitled Amado D. Valdez, petitioner, v. Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe­ Llamanzares, respondent.

  3. Resolution dated 23 December 2015 of the Commission En Banc, upholding the I December 2015 Resolution of the Second Division.

  4. Resolution dated 23 December 2015 of the Commission En Banc, upholding the 11 December 2015 Resolution of the First Division.
The procedure and the conclusions from which the questioned Resolutions emanated are tainted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction. The petitioner is a QUALIFIED CANDIDATE for President in the 9 May 2016 National Elections.

The issue before the COMELEC is whether or not the COC of petitioner should be denied due course or cancelled "on the exclusive ground" that she made in the certificate a false material representation. The exclusivity of the ground should hedge in the discretion of the COMELEC and restrain it from going into the issue of the qualifications of the candidate for the position, if, as in this case, such issue is yet undecided or undetermined by the proper authority. The COMELEC cannot itself, in the same cancellation case, decide the qualification or lack thereof of the candidate.

We rely, first of all, on the Constitution of our Republic, particularly its provisions in Article IX, C, Section 2:
Section 2. The Commission on Elections shall exercise the following powers and functions:

(1) Enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum, and recall.

(2) Exercise exclusive original jurisdiction over all contests relating to the elections, returns, and qualifications of all elective regional, provincial, and city officials, and appellate jurisdiction over all contests involving elective municipal officials decided by trial courts of general jurisdiction, or involving elective barangay officials decided by trial courts of limited jurisdiction.

Decisions, final orders, or rulings of the Commission on election contests involving elective municipal and barangay offices shall be final, executory, and not appealable.

(3) Decide, except those involving the right to vote, all questions affecting elections, including determination of the number and location of polling places, appointment of election officials and inspectors, and registration of voters.

(4) Deputize, with the concurrence of the President, law enforcement agencies and instrumentalities of the Government, including the Armed Forces of the Philippines, for the exclusive purpose of ensuring free, orderly, honest, peaceful, and credible elections.

(5) Register, after sufficient publication, political parties, organizations, or coalitions which, in addition to other requirements, must present their platform or program of government; and accredit citizens' arms of the Commission on Elections. Religious denominations and sects shall not be registered. Those which seek to achieve their goals through violence or unlawful means, or refuse to uphold and adhere to this Constitution, or which are supported by any foreign government shall likewise be refused registration.

Financial contributions from foreign governments and their agencies to political parties, organizations, coalitions, or candidates related to elections constitute interference in national affairs, and, when accepted, shall be an additional ground for the cancellation of their registration with the Commission, in addition to other penalties that may be prescribed by law.

(6) File, upon a verified complaint, or on its own initiative, petitions in court for inclusion or exclusion of voters; investigate and, where appropriate, prosecute cases of violations of election laws, including acts or omissions constituting election frauds, offenses, and malpractices.

(7) Recommend to the Congress effective measures to minimize election spending, including limitation of places where propaganda materials shall be posted, and to prevent and penalize all forms of election frauds, offenses, malpractices, and nuisance candidacies.

(8) Recommend to the President the removal of any officer or employee it has deputized, or the imposition of any other disciplinary action, for violation or disregard of, or disobedience to its directive, order, or decision.

(9) Submit to the President and the Congress a comprehensive report on the conduct of each election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum, or recall.
Not any one of the enumerated powers approximate the exactitude of the provisions of Article VI, Section 17 of the same basic law stating that:
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.
or of the last paragraph of Article VII, Section 4 which provides that:
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 tribunals which have jurisdiction over the question of the qualifications of the President, the Vice-President, Senators and the Members of the House of Representatives was made clear by the Constitution. There is no such provision for candidates for these positions.

Can the COMELEC be such judge?

The opinion of Justice Vicente V. Mendoza in Romualdez-Marcos v. Commission on Elections,[104] which was affirmatively cited in the En Banc decision in Fermin v. COMELEC[105] is our guide. The citation in Fermin reads:
Apparently realizing the lack of an authorized proceeding for declaring the ineligibility of candidates, the COMELEC amended its rules on February 15, 1993 so as to provide in Rule 25 § 1, the following:
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.
The lack of provision for declaring the ineligibility of candidates, however, cannot be supplied by a mere rule. Such an act is equivalent to the creation of a cause of action which is a substantive matter which the COMELEC, in the exercise of its rule-making power under Art. IX, A, § 6 of the Constitution, cannot do it. It is noteworthy that the Constitution withholds from the COMELEC even the power to decide cases involving the right to vote, which essentially involves an inquiry into qualifications based on age, residence and citizenship of voters. [Art. IX, C, § 2(3)]

The assimilation in Rule 25 of the COMELEC rules of grounds for ineligibility into grounds for disqualification is contrary to the evident intention of the law. For not only in their grounds but also in their consequences are proceedings for "disqualification" different from those for a declaration of "ineligibility." "Disqualification" proceedings, as already stated, are based on grounds specified in § 12 and § 68 of the Omnibus Election Code and in § 40 of the Local Government Code and are for the purpose of barring an individual from becoming a candidate or from continuing as a candidate for public office. In a word, their purpose is to eliminate a candidate from the race either from the start or during its progress. "Ineligibility," on the other hand, refers to the lack of the qualifications prescribed in the Constitution or the statutes for holding public office and the purpose of the proceedings for declaration of ineligibility is to remove the incumbent from office.

Consequently, that an individual possesses the qualifications for a public office does not imply that he is not disqualified from becoming a candidate or continuing as a candidate for a public office and vice versa. We have this sort of dichotomy in our Naturalization Law. (C.A. No. 473) That an alien has the qualifications prescribed in § 2 of the Law does not imply that he does not suffer from any of [the] disqualifications provided in § 4.
Before we get derailed by the distinction as to grounds and the consequences of the respective proceedings, the importance of the opinion is in its statement that "the lack of provision for declaring the ineligibility of candidates, however, cannot be supplied by a mere rule". Justice Mendoza lectured in Romualdez-Marcos that:
Three reasons may be cited to explain the absence of an authorized proceeding for determining before election the qualifications of a candidate.

First is the fact that unless a candidate wins and is proclaimed elected, there is no necessity for determining his eligibility for the office. In contrast, whether an individual should be disqualified as a candidate for acts constituting election offenses (e.g., vote buying, over spending, commission of prohibited acts) is a prejudicial question which should be determined lest he wins because of the very acts for which his disqualification is being sought. That is why it is provided that if the grounds for disqualification are established, a candidate will not be voted for; if he has been voted for, the votes in his favor will not be counted; and if for some reason he has been voted for and he has won, either he will not be proclaimed or his proclamation will be set aside.

Second is the fact that the determination of a candidates' eligibility, e.g., his citizenship or, as in this case, his domicile, may take a long time to make, extending beyond the beginning of the term of the office. This is amply demonstrated in the companion case (G.R. No. 120265, Agapito A. Aquino v. COMELEC) where the determination of Aquinos residence was still pending in the COMELEC even after the elections of May 8, 1995. This is contrary to the summary character proceedings relating to certificates of candidacy. That is why the law makes the receipt of certificates of candidacy a ministerial duty of the COMELEC and its officers. The law is satisfied if candidates state in their certificates of candidacy that they are eligible for the position which they seek to fill, leaving the determination of their qualifications to be made after the election and only in the event they are elected. Only in cases involving charges of false representations made in certificates of candidacy is the COMELEC given jurisdiction.

Third is the policy underlying the prohibition against pre­ proclamation cases in elections for President, Vice President, Senators and members of the House of Representatives. (R.A. No. 7166, § 15) The purpose is to preserve the prerogatives of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal and the other Tribunals as "sole judges" under the Constitution of the election, returns and qualifications of members of Congress of the President and Vice President, as the case may be.[106]
To be sure, the authoritativeness of the Romualdez pronouncements as reiterated in Fermin, led to the amendment through COMELEC Resolution No. 9523, on 25 September 2012 of its Rule 25. This, the 15 February 1993 version of Rule 25, which states that:
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.[107]
was in the 2012 rendition, drastically changed to:
Grounds. - Any candidate who, in action or protest in which he is a party, is declared by final decision of a competent court, guilty of, or found by the Commission to be suffering from any disqualification provided by law or the Constitution.

A Petition to Disqualify a Candidate invoking grounds for a Petition to Deny to or Cancel a Certificate of Candidacy or Petition to Declare a Candidate as a Nuisance Candidate, or a combination thereof, shall be summarily dismissed.
Clearly, the amendment done in 2012 is an acceptance of the reality of absence of an authorized proceeding for determining before election the qualifications of candidate. Such that, as presently required, to disqualify a candidate there must be a declaration by a final judgment of a competent court that the candidate sought to be disqualified "is guilty of or found by the Commission to be suffering from any disqualification provided by law or the Constitution."

Insofar as the qualification of a candidate is concerned, Rule 25 and Rule 23 are flipsides of one to the other. Both do not allow, are not authorizations, are not vestment of jurisdiction, for the COMELEC to determine the qualification of a candidate. The facts of qualification must beforehand be established in a prior proceeding before an authority properly vested with jurisdiction. The prior determination of qualification may be by statute, by executive order or by a judgment of a competent court or tribunal.

If a candidate cannot be disqualified without a prior finding that he or she is suffering from a disqualification "provided by law or the Constitution," neither can the certificate of candidacy be cancelled or denied due course on grounds of false representations regarding his or her qualifications, without a prior authoritative finding that he or she is not qualified, such prior authority being the necessary measure by which the falsity of the representation can be found. The only exception that can be conceded are self-evident facts of unquestioned or unquestionable veracity and judicial confessions. Such are, anyway, bases equivalent to prior decisions against which the falsity of representation can be determined.

The need for a predicate finding or final pronouncement in a proceeding under Rule 23 that deals with, as in this case, alleged false representations regarding the candidate's citizenship and residence, forced the COMELEC to rule essentially that since foundlings[108] are not mentioned in the enumeration of citizens under the 1935 Constitution,[109] they then cannot be citizens. As the COMELEC stated in oral arguments, when petitioner admitted that she is a foundling, she said it all. This borders on bigotry. Oddly, in an effort at tolerance, the COMELEC, after saying that it cannot rule that herein petitioner possesses blood relationship with a Filipino citizen when "it is certain that such relationship is indemonstrable," proceeded to say that "she now has the burden to present evidence to prove her natural filiation with a Filipino parent."

The fact is that petitioner's blood relationship with a Filipino citizen is DEMONSTRABLE.

At the outset, it must be noted that presumptions regarding paternity is neither unknown nor unaccepted in Philippine Law. The Family Code of the Philippines has a whole chapter on Paternity and Filiation.[110] That said, there is more than sufficient evidence that petitioner has Filipino parents and is therefore a natural-born Filipino. Parenthetically, the burden of proof was on private respondents to show that petitioner is not a Filipino citizen. The private respondents should have shown that both of petitioner's parents were aliens. Her admission that she is a foundling did not shift the burden to her because such status did not exclude the possibility that her parents were Filipinos, especially as in this case where there is a high probability, if not certainty, that her parents are Filipinos.

The factual issue is not who the parents of petitioner are, as their identities are unknown, but whether such parents are Filipinos. Under Section 4, Rule 128:
Sect. 4. Relevancy, collateral matters. - Evidence must have such a relation to the fact in issue as to induce belief in its existence or no­ existence. Evidence on collateral matters shall not be allowed, except when it tends in any reasonable degree to establish the probability of improbability of the fact in issue.
The Solicitor General offered official statistics from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA)[111] that from 1965 to 1975, the total number of foreigners born in the Philippines was 15,986 while the total number of Filipinos born in the country was 10,558,278. The statistical probability that any child born in the Philippines in that decade is natural-born Filipino was 99.83%. For her part, petitioner presented census statistics for Iloilo Province for 1960 and 1970, also from the PSA. In 1960, there were 962,532 Filipinos and 4,734 foreigners in the province; 99.62% of the population were Filipinos. In 1970, the figures were 1,162,669 Filipinos and 5,304 foreigners, or 99.55%. Also presented were figures for the child producing ages (15-49). In 1960, there were 230,528 female Filipinos as against 730 female foreigners or 99.68%. In the same year, there were 210,349 Filipino males and 886 male aliens, or 99.58%. In 1970, there were 270,299 Filipino females versus 1,190 female aliens, or 99.56%. That same year, there were 245,740 Filipino males as against only 1,165 male aliens or 99.53%. COMELEC did not dispute these figures. Notably, Commissioner Arthur Lim admitted, during the oral arguments, that at the time petitioner was found in 1968, the majority of the population in Iloilo was Filipino.[112]

Other circumstantial evidence of the nationality of petitioner's parents are the fact that she was abandoned as an infant in a Roman Catholic Church in Iloilo City. She also has typical Filipino features: height, flat nasal bridge, straight black hair, almond shaped eyes and an oval face.

There is a disputable presumption that things have happened according to the ordinary course of nature and the ordinary habits of life.[113]  All of the foregoing evidence, that a person with typical Filipino features is abandoned in Catholic Church in a municipality where the population of the Philippines is overwhelmingly Filipinos such that there would be more than a 99% chance that a child born in the province would be a Filipino, would indicate more than ample probability if not statistical certainty, that petitioner's parents are Filipinos. That probability and the evidence on which it is based are admissible under Rule 128, Section 4 of the Revised Rules on Evidence.

To assume otherwise is to accept the absurd, if not the virtually impossible, as the norm. In the words of the Solicitor General:
Second. It is contrary to common sense because foreigners do not come to the Philippines so they can get pregnant and leave their newborn babies behind. We do not face a situation where the probability is such that every foundling would have a 50% chance of being a Filipino and a 50% chance of being a foreigner. We need to frame our questions properly. What are the chances that the parents of anyone born in the Philippines would be foreigners? Almost zero. What are the chances that the parents of anyone born in the Philippines would be Filipinos? 99.9%.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, from 2010 to 2014, on a yearly average, there were 1,766,046 children born in the Philippines to Filipino parents, as opposed to 1,301 children in the Philippines of foreign parents. Thus, for that sample period, the ratio of non-Filipino children to natural born Filipino children is 1:1357. This means that the statistical probability that any child born in the Philippines would be a natural born Filipino is 99.93%.

From 1965 to 1975, the total number of foreigners born in the Philippines is 15,986 while the total number of Filipinos born in the Philippines is 15,558,278. For this period, the ratio of non-Filipino children is 1:661. This means that the statistical probability that any child born in the Philippines on that decade would be a natural born Filipino is 99.83%.

We can invite statisticians and social anthropologists to crunch the numbers for us, but I am confident that the statistical probability that a child born in the Philippines would be a natural born Filipino will not be affected by whether or not the parents are known. If at all, the likelihood that a foundling would have a Filipino parent might even be higher than 99.9%. Filipinos abandon their children out of poverty or perhaps, shame. We do not imagine foreigners abandoning their children here in the Philippines thinking those infants would have better economic opportunities or believing that this country is a tropical paradise suitable for raising abandoned children. I certainly doubt whether a foreign couple has ever considered their child excess baggage that is best left behind.

To deny full Filipino citizenship to all foundlings and render them stateless just because there may be a theoretical chance that one among the thousands of these foundlings might be the child of not just one, but two, foreigners is downright discriminatory, irrational, and unjust. It just doesn't make any sense. Given the statistical certainty 99.9% - that any child born in the Philippines would be a natural born citizen, a decision denying foundlings such status is effectively a denial of their birthright. There is no reason why this Honorable Court should use an improbable hypothetical to sacrifice the fundamental political rights of an entire class of human beings. Your Honor, constitutional interpretation and the use of common sense are not separate disciplines.
As a matter of law, foundlings are as a class, natural-born citizens. While the 1935 Constitution's enumeration is silent as to foundlings, there is no restrictive language which would definitely exclude foundlings either. Because of silence and ambiguity in the enumeration with respect to foundlings, there is a need to examine the intent of the framers. In Nitafan v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue,[114] this Court held that:
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.[115]
As pointed out by petitioner as well as the Solicitor General, the deliberations of the 1934 Constitutional Convention show that the framers intended foundlings to be covered by the enumeration. The following exchange is recorded:
Sr. Rafols:
For an amendment. I propose that after subsection 2, the following is inserted: "The natural children of a foreign father and a Filipino mother not recognized by the father.
xxxx
President:
[We] would like to request a clarification from the proponent of the amendment. The gentleman refers to natural children or to any kind of illegitimate children?
Sr. Rafols:
To all kinds of illegitimate children. It also includes natural children of unknown parentage, natural or illegitimate children of unknown parents.
Sr. Montinola:
For clarification. The gentleman said "of unknown parents." Current codes consider them Filipino, that is, I refer to the Spanish Code wherein all children of unknown parentage born in Spanish territory are considered Spaniards, because the presumption is that a child of unknown parentage is the son of a Spaniard. This may be applied in the Philippines in that a child of unknown parentage born in the Philippines is deemed to be Filipino, and there is no need...
Sr. Rafols:
There is a need, because we are relating the conditions that are [required] to be Filipino.
Sr. Montinola:
But that is the interpretation of the law, therefore, there is no [more] need for amendment.
Sr. Rafols:
The amendment should read thus: "Natural or illegitimate of a foreign father and a Filipino mother recognized by one, or the children of unknown parentage."
Sr. Briones:
The amendment [should] mean children born in the Philippines of unknown parentage.
Sr. Rafols:
The son of a Filipina to a Foreigner, although this [person] does not recognize the child, is not unknown.
President:
Does the gentleman accept the amendment or not?
Sr. Rafols:
I do not accept the amendment because the amendment would exclude the children of a Filipina with a foreigner who does not recognize the child. Their parentage is not unknown and I think those of overseas Filipino mother and father [whom the latter] does not recognize, should also be considered as Filipinos.
President:
The question in order is the amendment to the amendment from the Gentleman from Cebu, Mr. Briones.
Sr. Busion:
Mr. President, don't you think it would be better to leave this matter in the hands of the Legislature?
Sr. Roxas:
Mr. President, my humble opinion is that these cases are few and Jar in between, that the constitution need [not] refer to them. By international law the principle that children or people born in a country of unknown parents are citizens in this nation is recognized, and it is not necessary to include a provision on the subject exhaustively.[116]
Though the Rafols amendment was not carried out, it was not because there was any objection to the notion that persons of "unknown parentage" are not citizens but only because their number was not enough to merit specific mention. Such was the account,[117] cited by petitioner, of delegate and constitution law author Jose Aruego who said:
During the debates on this provision, Delegate Rafols presented an amendment to include as Filipino citizens the illegitimate children with a foreign father of a mother who was a citizen of the Philippines, and also foundlings; but this amendment was defeated primarily because the Convention believed that the cases, being too few to warrant the inclusion of a provision in the Constitution to apply to them, should be governed by statutory legislation. Moreover, it was believed that the rules of international law were already clear to the effect that illegitimate children followed the citizenship of the mother, and that foundlings followed the nationality of the place where they were found, thereby making unnecessary the inclusion in the Constitution of the proposed amendment.
This explanation was likewise the position of the Solicitor General during the 16 February 2016 Oral Arguments:
We all know that the Rafols proposal was rejected. But note that what was declined was the proposal for a textual and explicit recognition of foundlings as Filipinos. And so, the way to explain the constitutional silence is by saying that it was the view of Montinola and Roxas which prevailed that there is no more need to expressly declare foundlings as Filipinos.

Obviously, it doesn't matter whether Montinola's or Roxas' views were legally correct. Framers of a constitution can constitutionalize rules based on assumptions that are imperfect or even wrong. They can even overturn existing rules. This is basic. What matters here is that Montinola and Roxas were able to convince their colleagues in the convention that there is no more need to expressly declare foundlings as Filipinos because they are already impliedly so recognized.

In other words, the constitutional silence is fully explained in terms of linguistic efficiency and the avoidance of redundancy. The policy is clear: it is to recognize foundlings, as a class, as Filipinos under Art. IV, Section 1(3) of the 1935 Constitution. This inclusive policy is carried over into the 1973 and 1987 Constitution. It is appropriate to invoke a famous scholar as he was paraphrased by Chief Justice Fernando: the constitution is not silently silent, it is silently vocal.[118]
The Solicitor General makes the further point that the framers "worked to create a just and humane society," that "they were reasonable patriots and that it would be unfair to impute upon them a discriminatory intent against foundlings." He exhorts that, given the grave implications of the argument that foundlings are not natural-born Filipinos, the Court must search the records of the 1935, 1973 and 1987 Constitutions "for an express intention to deny foundlings the status of Filipinos. The burden is on those who wish to use the constitution to discriminate against foundlings to show that the constitution really intended to take this path to the dark side and inflict this across the board marginalization."

We find no such intent or language permitting discrimination against foundlings. On the contrary, all three Constitutions guarantee the basic right to equal protection of the laws. All exhort the State to render social justice. Of special consideration are several provisions in the present charter: Article II, Section 11 which provides that the "State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights," Article XIII, Section 1 which mandates Congress to "give highest priority to the enactment of measures that protect and enhance the right of all the people to human dignity, reduce social, economic, and political inequalities x x x" and Article XV, Section 3 which requires the State to defend the "right of children to assistance, including proper care and nutrition, and special protection from all forms of neglect, abuse, cruelty, exploitation, and other conditions prejudicial to their development." Certainly, these provisions contradict an intent to discriminate against foundlings on account of their unfortunate status.

Domestic laws on adoption also support the principle that foundlings are Filipinos. These laws do not provide that adoption confers citizenship upon the adoptee. Rather, the adoptee must be a Filipino in the first place to be adopted. The most basic of such laws is Article 15 of the Civil Code which provides that "[l]aws relating to family rights, duties, status, conditions, legal capacity of persons are binding on citizens of the Philippines even though living abroad." Adoption deals with status, and a Philippine adoption court will have jurisdiction only if the adoptee is a Filipino. In Ellis and Ellis v. Republic,[119] a child left by an unidentified mother was sought to be adopted by aliens. This Court said:
In this connection, it should be noted that this is a proceedings in rem, which no court may entertain unless it has jurisdiction, not only over the subject matter of the case and over the parties, but also over the res, which is the personal status of Baby Rose as well as that of petitioners herein. Our Civil Code (Art. 15) adheres to the theory that jurisdiction over the status of a natural person is determined by the latter's nationality. Pursuant to this theory, we have jurisdiction over the status of Baby Rose, she being a citizen of the Philippines, but not over the status of the petitioners, who are foreigners.[120] (Underlining supplied)
Recent legislation is more direct. R.A. No. 8043 entitled "An Act Establishing the Rules to Govern the Inter-Country Adoption of Filipino Children and For Other Purposes" (otherwise known as the "Inter-Country Adoption Act of 1995"), R.A. No. 8552, entitled "An Act Establishing the Rules and Policies on the Adoption of Filipino Children and For Other Purposes" (otherwise known as the Domestic Adoption Act of 1998) and this Court's A.M. No. 02-6-02-SC or the "Rule on Adoption," all expressly refer to "Filipino children" and include foundlings as among Filipino children who may be adopted.

It has been argued that the process to determine that the child is a foundling leading to the issuance of a foundling certificate under these laws and the issuance of said certificate are acts to acquire or perfect Philippine citizenship which make the foundling a naturalized Filipino at best. This is erroneous. Under Article IV, 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." In the first place, "having to perform an act" means that the act must be personally done by the citizen. In this instance, the determination of foundling status is done not by the child but by the authorities.[121] Secondly, the object of the process is the determination of the whereabouts of the parents, not the citizenship of the child. Lastly, the process is certainly not analogous to naturalization proceedings to acquire Philippine citizenship, or the election of such citizenship by one born of an alien father and a Filipino mother under the 1935 Constitution, which is an act to perfect it.

In this instance, such issue is moot because there is no dispute that petitioner is a foundling, as evidenced by a Foundling Certificate issued in her favor.[122] The Decree of Adoption issued on 13 May 1974, which approved petitioner's adoption by Jesusa Sonora Poe and Ronald Allan Kelley Poe, expressly refers to Emiliano and his wife, Rosario Militar, as her "foundling parents," hence effectively affirming petitioner's status as a foundling.[123]

Foundlings are likewise citizens under international law. Under the 1987 Constitution, an international law can become part of the sphere of domestic law either by transformation or incorporation. The transformation method requires that an international law be transformed into a domestic law through a constitutional mechanism such as locallegislation.[124] On the other hand, generally accepted principles of international law, by virtue of the incorporation clause of the Constitution, form part of the laws of the land even if they do not derive from treaty obligations. Generally accepted principles of international law include international custom as evidence of a general practice accepted as law, and general principles of law recognized by civilized nations.[125] International customary rules are accepted as binding as a result from the combination of two elements: the established, widespread, and consistent practice on the part of States; and a psychological element known as the opinion juris sive necessitates (opinion as to law or necessity). Implicit in the latter element is a belief that the practice in question is rendered obligatory by the existence of a rule of law requiring it.[126] "General principles of law recognized by civilized nations" are principles "established by a process of reasoning" or judicial logic, based on principles which are "basic to legal systems generally,"[127] such as "general principles of equity, i.e., the general principles of fairness and justice," and the "general principle against discrimination" which is embodied in the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention Against Discrimination in Education, the Convention (No. 111) Concerning Discrimination in Respect of Employment and Occupation."[128] These are the same core principles which underlie the Philippine Constitution itself, as embodied in the due process and equal protection clauses of the Bill of Rights.[129]

Universal Declaration of Human Rights ("UDHR") has been interpreted by this Court as part of the generally accepted principles of international law and binding on the State.[130] Article 15 thereof states:
  1. Everyone has the right to a nationality.
  2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.
The Philippines has also ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Article 7 of the UNCRC imposes the following obligations on our country:
Article 7
  1. The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents.

  2. States Parties shall ensure the implementation of these rights in accordance with their national law and their obligations under the relevant international instruments in this field, in particular where the child would otherwise be stateless.
In 1986, the country also ratified the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 24 thereof provide for the right of every child "to acquire a nationality:"
Article 24
  1. Every child shall have, without any discrimination as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, national or social origin, property or birth, the right, to such measures of protection as are required by his status as a minor, on the part of his family, society and the State.

  2. Every child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have a name.

  3. Every child has the right to acquire a nationality.
The common thread of the UDHR, UNCRC and ICCPR is to obligate the Philippines to grant nationality from birth and ensure that no child is stateless. This grant of nationality must be at the time of birth, and it cannot be accomplished by the application of our present naturalization laws, Commonwealth Act No. 473, as amended, and R.A. No. 9139, both of which require the applicant to be at least eighteen (18) years old.

The principles found in two conventions, while yet unratified by the Philippines, are generally accepted principles of international law. The first is Article 14 of the 1930 Hague Convention on Certain Questions Relating to the Conflict of Nationality Laws under which a foundling is presumed to have the "nationality of the country of birth," to wit:
Article 14

A child whose parents are both unknown shall have the nationality of the country of birth. If the child's parentage is established, its nationality shall be determined by the rules applicable in cases where the parentage is known.

A foundling is, until the contrary is proved, presumed to have been born on the territory of the State in which it was found. (Underlining supplied)
The second is the principle that a foundling is presumed born of citizens of the country where he is found, contained in Article 2 of the 1961 United Nations Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness:
Article 2

A foundling found in the territory of a Contracting State shall, in the absence of proof to the contrary, be considered to have been born within the territory of parents possessing the nationality of that State.
That the Philippines is not a party to the 1930 Hague Convention nor to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness does not mean that their principles are not binding. While the Philippines is not a party to the 1930 Hague Convention, it is a signatory to the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, Article 15(1) of which[131] effectively affirms Article 14 of the 1930 Hague Convention. Article 2 of the 1961 "United Nations Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness" merely "gives effect" to Article 15(1) of the UDHR.[132] In Razon v. Tagitis,[133] this Court noted that the Philippines had not signed or ratified the "International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance." Yet, we ruled that the proscription against enforced disappearances in the said convention was nonetheless binding as a "generally accepted principle of international law." Razon v. Tagitis is likewise notable for declaring the ban as a generally accepted principle of international law although the convention had been ratified by only sixteen states and had not even come into force and which needed the ratification of a minimum of twenty states. Additionally, as petitioner points out, the Court was content with the practice of international and regional state organs, regional state practice in Latin America, and State Practice in the United States.

Another case where the number of ratifying countries was not determinative is Mijares v. Ranada,[134] where only four countries had "either ratified or acceded to"[135] the 1966 "Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters" when the case was decided in 2005. The Court also pointed out that that nine member countries of the European Common Market had acceded to the Judgments Convention. The Court also cited U.S. laws and jurisprudence on recognition of foreign judgments. In all, only the practices of fourteen countries were considered and yet, there was pronouncement that recognition of foreign judgments was widespread practice.

Our approach in Razon and Mijares effectively takes into account the fact that "generally accepted principles of international law" are based not only on international custom, but also on "general principles of law recognized by civilized nations," as the phrase is understood in Article 38.1 paragraph (c) of the ICJ Statute. Justice, fairness, equity and the policy against discrimination, which are fundamental principles underlying the Bill of Rights and which are "basic to legal systems generally,"[136] support the notion that the right against enforced disappearances and the recognition of foreign judgments, were correctly considered as "generally accepted principles of international law" under the incorporation clause.

Petitioner's evidence[137] shows that at least sixty countries in Asia, North and South America, and Europe have passed legislation recognizing foundlings as its citizen. Forty-two (42) of those countries follow the jus sanguinis regime. Of the sixty, only thirty-three (33) are parties to the 1961 Convention on Statelessness; twenty-six (26) are not signatories to the Convention. Also, the Chief Justice, at the 2 February 2016 Oral Arguments pointed out that in 166 out of 189 countries surveyed (or 87.83%), foundlings are recognized as citizens. These circumstances, including the practice of jus sanguinis countries, show that it is a generally accepted principle of international law to presume foundlings as having been born of nationals of the country in which the foundling is found.

Current legislation reveals the adherence of the Philippines to this generally accepted principle of international law. In particular, R.A. No. 8552, R.A. No. 8042 and this Court's Rules on Adoption, expressly refer to "Filipino children." In all of them, foundlings are among the Filipino children who could be adopted. Likewise, it has been pointed that the DFA issues passports to foundlings. Passports are by law, issued only to citizens. This shows that even the executive department, acting through the DFA, considers foundlings as Philippine citizens.

Adopting these legal principles from the 1930 Hague Convention and the 1961 Convention on Statelessness is rational and reasonable and consistent with the jus sanguinis regime in our Constitution. The presumption of natural-born citizenship of foundlings stems from the presumption that their parents are nationals of the Philippines. As the empirical data provided by the PSA show, that presumption is at more than 99% and is a virtual certainty.

In sum, all of the international law conventions and instruments on the matter of nationality of foundlings were designed to address the plight of a defenseless class which suffers from a misfortune not of their own making. We cannot be restrictive as to their application if we are a country which calls itself civilized and a member of the community of nations. The Solicitor General's warning in his opening statement is relevant:
.... the total effect of those documents is to signify to this Honorable Court that those treaties and conventions were drafted because the world community is concerned that the situation of foundlings renders them legally invisible. It would be tragically ironic if this Honorable Court ended up using the international instruments which seek to protect and uplift foundlings a tool to deny them political status or to accord them second-class citizenship.[138]
The COMELEC also ruled[139] that petitioner's repatriation in July 2006 under the provisions of R.A. No. 9225 did not result in the reacquisition of natural-born citizenship. The COMELEC reasoned that since the applicant must perform an act, what is reacquired is not "natural-born" citizenship but only plain "Philippine citizenship."

The COMELEC's rule arrogantly disregards consistent jurisprudence on the matter of repatriation statutes in general and of R.A. No. 9225 in particular.

In the seminal case of Bengson III v. HRET,[140] repatriation was explained as follows:
Moreover, repatriation results in the recovery of the original nationality. This means that a naturalized Filipino who lost his citizenship will be restored to his prior status as a naturalized Filipino citizen. On the other hand, if he was originally a natural-born citizen before he lost his Philippine citizenship, he will be restored to his former status as a natural­ born Filipino.
R.A. No. 9225 is a repatriation statute and has been described as such in several cases. They include Sobejana-Condon v. COMELEC[141] where we described it as an "abbreviated repatriation process that restores one's Filipino citizenship x x x." Also included is Parreño v. Commission on Audit,[142] which cited Tabasa v. Court of Appeals,[143] where we said that "[t]he repatriation of the former Filipino will allow him to recover his natural-born citizenship. Parreño v. Commission on Audit[144] is categorical that "if petitioner reacquires his Filipino citizenship (under R.A. No. 9225), he will ... recover his natural-born citizenship."

The COMELEC construed the phrase "from birth" in the definition of natural citizens as implying "that natural-born citizenship must begin at birth and remain uninterrupted and continuous from birth." R.A. No. 9225 was obviously passed in line with Congress' sole prerogative to determine how citizenship may be lost or reacquired. Congress saw it fit to decree that natural-born citizenship may be reacquired even if it had been once lost. It is not for the COMELEC to disagree with the Congress' determination.

More importantly, COMELEC's position that natural-born status must be continuous was already rejected in Bengson III v. HRET[145] where the phrase "from birth" was clarified to mean at the time of birth: "A person who at the time of his birth, is a citizen of a particular country, is a natural­ born citizen thereof." Neither is "repatriation" an act to "acquire or perfect" one's citizenship. In Bengson III v. HRET, this Court pointed out that there are only two types of citizens under the 1987 Constitution: natural-born citizen and naturalized, and that there is no third category for repatriated citizens:
It is apparent from the enumeration of who are citizens under the present Constitution that there are only two classes of citizens: (1) those who are natural-born and (2) those who are naturalized in accordance with law. A citizen who is not a naturalized Filipino, i.e., did not have to undergo the process of naturalization to obtain Philippine citizenship, necessarily is a natural-born Filipino. Noteworthy is the absence in said enumeration of a separate category for persons who, after losing Philippine citizenship, subsequently reacquire it. The reason therefor is clear: as to such persons, they would either be natural-born or naturalized depending on the reasons for the loss of their citizenship and the mode prescribed by the applicable law for the reacquisition thereof. As respondent Cruz was not required by law to go through naturalization proceedings in order to reacquire his citizenship, he is perforce a natural­ born Filipino. As such, he possessed all the necessary qualifications to be elected as member of the House of Representatives.[146]
The COMELEC cannot reverse a judicial precedent. That is reserved to this Court. And while we may always revisit a doctrine, a new rule reversing standing doctrine cannot be retroactively applied. In Morales v. Court of Appeals and Jejomar Erwin S. Binay, Jr.,[147] where we decreed reversed the condonation doctrine, we cautioned that it "should be prospective in application for the reason that judicial decisions applying or interpreting the laws of the Constitution, until reversed, shall form part of the legal system of the Philippines." This Court also said that "while the future may ultimately uncover a doctrine's error, it should be, as a general rule, recognized as good law prior to its abandonment. Consequently, the people's reliance thereupon should be respected."[148]

Lastly, it was repeatedly pointed out during the oral arguments that petitioner committed a falsehood when she put in the spaces for "born to" in her application for repatriation under R.A. No. 9225 the names of her adoptive parents, and this misled the BI to presume that she was a natural­ born Filipino. It has been contended that the data required were the names of her biological parents which are precisely unknown.

This position disregards one important fact - petitioner was legally adopted. One of the effects of adoption is "to sever all legal ties between the biological parents and the adoptee, except when the biological parent is the spouse of the adoptee."[149] Under R.A. No. 8552, petitioner was also entitled to an amended birth certificate "attesting to the fact that the adoptee is the child of the adopter(s)" and which certificate "shall not bear any notation that it is an amended issue."[150] That law also requires that "[a]ll records, books, and papers relating to the adoption cases in the files of the court, the Department [of Social Welfare and Development], or any other agency or institution participating in the adoption proceedings shall be kept strictly confidential."[151] The law therefore allows petitioner to state that her adoptive parents were her birth parents as that was what would be stated in her birth certificate anyway. And given the policy of strict confidentiality of adoption records, petitioner was not obligated to disclose that she was an adoptee.

Clearly, to avoid a direct ruling on the qualifications of petitioner, which it cannot make in the same case for cancellation of COC, it resorted to opinionatedness which is, moreover, erroneous. The whole process undertaken by COMELEC is wrapped in grave abuse of discretion.

On Residence

The tainted process was repeated in disposing of the issue of whether or not petitioner committed false material representation when she stated in her COC that she has before and until 9 May 2016 been a resident of the Philippines for ten (10) years and eleven (11) months.

Petitioner's claim that she will have been a resident for ten (10) years and eleven (11) months on the day before the 2016 elections, is true.

The Constitution requires presidential candidates to have ten (10) years' residence in the Philippines before the day of the elections. Since the forthcoming elections will be held on 9 May 2016, petitioner must have been a resident of the Philippines prior to 9 May 2016 for ten (10) years. In answer to the requested information of "Period of Residence in the Philippines up to the day before May 09, 2016," she put in "10 years 11 months" which according to her pleadings in these cases corresponds to a beginning date of 25 May 2005 when she returned for good from the U.S.

When petitioner immigrated to the U.S. in 1991, she lost her original domicile, which is the Philippines. There are three requisites to acquire a new domicile: 1. Residence or bodily presence in a new locality; 2. an intention to remain there; and 3. an intention to abandon the old domicile.[152] To successfully effect a change of domicile, one must demonstrate an actual removal or an actual change of domicile; a bona fide intention of abandoning the former place of residence and establishing a new one and definite acts which correspond with the purpose. In other words, there must basically be animus manendi coupled with animus non revertendi. The purpose to remain in or at the domicile of choice must be for an indefinite period of time; the change of residence must be voluntary; and the residence at the place chosen for the new domicile must be actual.[153]

Petitioner presented voluminous evidence showing that she and her family abandoned their U.S. domicile and relocated to the Philippines for good. These evidence include petitioner's former U.S. passport showing her arrival on 24 May 2005 and her return to the Philippines every time she travelled abroad; e-mail correspondences starting in March 2005 to September 2006 with a freight company to arrange for the shipment of their household items weighing about 28,000 pounds to the Philippines; e-mail with the Philippine Bureau of Animal Industry inquiring how to ship their dog to the Philippines; school records of her children showing enrollment in Philippine schools starting June 2005 and for succeeding years; tax identification card for petitioner issued on July 2005; titles for condominium and parking slot issued in February 2006 and their corresponding tax declarations issued in April 2006; receipts dated 23 February 2005 from the Salvation Army in the U.S. acknowledging donation of items from petitioner's family; March 2006 e-mail to the U.S. Postal Service confirming request for change of address; final statement from the First American Title Insurance Company showing sale of their U.S. home on 27 April 2006; 12 July 2011 filled-up questionnaire submitted to the U.S. Embassy where petitioner indicated that she had been a Philippine resident since May 2005; affidavit from Jesusa Sonora Poe (attesting to the return of petitioner on 24 May 2005 and that she and her family stayed with affiant until the condominium was purchased); and Affidavit from petitioner's husband (confirming that the spouses jointly decided to relocate to the Philippines in 2005 and that he stayed behind in the U.S. only to finish some work and to sell the family home).

The foregoing evidence were undisputed and the facts were even listed by the COMELEC, particularly in its Resolution in the Tatad, Contreras and Valdez cases.

However, the COMELEC refused to consider that petitioner's domicile had been timely changed as of 24 May 2005. At the oral arguments, COMELEC Commissioner Arthur Lim conceded the presence of the first two requisites, namely, physical presence and animus manendi, but maintained there was no animus non-revertendi.[154] The COMELEC disregarded the import of all the evidence presented by petitioner on the basis of the position that the earliest date that petitioner could have started residence in the Philippines was in July 2006 when her application under R.A. No. 9225 was approved by the BI. In this regard, COMELEC relied on Coquilla v. COMELEC,[155] Japzon v. COMELEC[156] and Caballero v. COMELEC.[157] During the oral arguments, the private respondents also added Reyes v. COMELEC.[158] Respondents contend that these cases decree that the stay of an alien former Filipino cannot be counted until he/she obtains a permanent resident visa or reacquires Philippine citizenship, a visa­ free entry under a balikbayan stamp being insufficient. Since petitioner was still an American (without any resident visa) until her reacquisition of citizenship under R.A. No. 9225, her stay from 24 May 2005 to 7 July 2006 cannot be counted.

But as the petitioner pointed out, the facts in these four cases are very different from her situation. In Coquilla v. COMELEC,[159] the only evidence presented was a community tax certificate secured by the candidate and his declaration that he would be running in the elections. Japzon v. COMELEC[160] did not involve a candidate who wanted to count residence prior to his reacquisition of Philippine citizenship. With the Court decreeing that residence is distinct from citizenship, the issue there was whether the candidate's acts after reacquisition sufficed to establish residence. In Caballero v. COMELEC,[161] the candidate admitted that his place of work was abroad and that he only visited during his frequent vacations. In Reyes v. COMELEC,[162] the candidate was found to be an American citizen who had not even reacquired Philippine citizenship under R.A. No. 9225 or had renounced her U.S. citizenship. She was disqualified on the citizenship issue. On residence, the only proof she offered was a seven-month stint as provincial officer. The COMELEC, quoted with approval by this Court, said that "such fact alone is not sufficient to prove her one-year residency."

It is obvious that because of the sparse evidence on residence in the four cases cited by the respondents, the Court had no choice but to hold that residence could be counted only from acquisition of a permanent resident visa or from reacquisition of Philippine citizenship. In contrast, the evidence of petitioner is overwhelming and taken together leads to no other conclusion that she decided to permanently abandon her U.S. residence (selling the house, taking the children from U.S. schools, getting quotes from the freight company, notifying the U.S. Post Office of the abandonment of their address in the U.S., donating excess items to the Salvation Army, her husband resigning from U.S. employment right after selling the U.S. house) and permanently relocate to the Philippines and actually re-established her residence here on 24 May 2005 (securing T.I.N, enrolling her children in Philippine schools, buying property here, constructing a residence here, returning to the Philippines after all trips abroad, her husband getting employed here). Indeed, coupled with her eventual application to reacquire Philippine citizenship and her family's actual continuous stay in the Philippines over the years, it is clear that when petitioner returned on 24 May 2005 it was for good.

In this connection, the COMELEC also took it against petitioner that she had entered the Philippines visa-free as a balikbayan. A closer look at R.A. No. 6768 as amended, otherwise known as the "An Act Instituting a Balikbayan Program," shows that there is no overriding intent to treat balikbayans as temporary visitors who must leave after one year. Included in the law is a former Filipino who has been naturalized abroad and "comes or returns to the Philippines."[163] The law institutes a balikbayan program "providing the opportunity to avail of the necessary training to enable the balikbayan to become economically self-reliant members of society upon their return to the country"[164] in line with the government's "reintegration program."[165] Obviously, balikbayans are not ordinary transients.

Given the law's express policy to facilitate the return of a balikbayan and help him reintegrate into society, it would be an unduly harsh conclusion to say in absolute terms that the balikbayan must leave after one year. That visa-free period is obviously granted him to allow him to re-establish his life and reintegrate himself into the community before he attends to the necessary formal and legal requirements of repatriation. And that is exactly what petitioner did - she reestablished life here by enrolling her children and buying property while awaiting the return of her husband and then applying for repatriation shortly thereafter.

No case similar to petitioner's, where the former Filipino's evidence of change in domicile is extensive and overwhelming, has as yet been decided by the Court. Petitioner's evidence of residence is unprecedented. There is no judicial precedent that comes close to the facts of residence of petitioner. There is no indication in Coquilla v. COMELEC,[166] and the other cases cited by the respondents that the Court intended to have its rulings there apply to a situation where the facts are different. Surely, the issue of residence has been decided particularly on the facts-of-the case basis.

To avoid the logical conclusion pointed out by the evidence of residence of petitioner, the COMELEC ruled that petitioner's claim of residence of ten (10) years and eleven (11) months by 9 May 2016 in her 2015 COC was false because she put six (6) years and six (6) months as "period of residence before May 13, 2013" in her 2012 COC for Senator. Thus, according to the COMELEC, she started being a Philippine resident only in November 2006. In doing so, the COMELEC automatically assumed as true the statement in the 2012 COC and the 2015 COCas false.

As explained by petitioner in her verified pleadings, she misunderstood the date required in the 2013 COC as the period of residence as of the day she submitted that COC in 2012. She said that she reckoned residency from April-May 2006 which was the period when the U.S. house was sold and her husband returned to the Philippines. In that regard, she was advised by her lawyers in 2015 that residence could be counted from 25 May 2005.

Petitioner's explanation that she misunderstood the query in 2012 (period of residence before 13 May 2013) as inquiring about residence as of the time she submitted the COC, is bolstered by the change which the COMELEC itself introduced in the 2015 COC which is now "period of residence in the Philippines up to the day before May 09, 2016." The COMELEC would not have revised the query if it did not acknowledge that the first version was vague.

That petitioner could have reckoned residence from a date earlier than the sale of her U.S. house and the return of her husband is plausible given the evidence that she had returned a year before. Such evidence, to repeat, would include her passport and the school records of her children.

It was grave abuse of discretion for the COMELEC to treat the 2012 COC as a binding and conclusive admission against petitioner. It could be given in evidence against her, yes, but it was by no means conclusive. There is precedent after all where a candidate's mistake as to period of residence made in a COC was overcome by evidence. In Romualdez-Marcos v. COMELEC,[167] the candidate mistakenly put seven (7) months as her period of residence where the required period was a minimum of one year. We said that "[i]t is the fact of residence, not a statement in a certificate of candidacy which ought to be decisive in determining whether or not an individual has satisfied the constitution's residency qualification requirement." The COMELEC ought to have looked at the evidence presented and see if petitioner was telling the truth that she was in the Philippines from 24 May 2005. Had the COMELEC done its duty, it would have seen that the 2012 COC and the 2015 COC both correctly stated the pertinent period of residency.

The COMELEC, by its own admission, disregarded the evidence that petitioner actually and physically returned here on 24 May 2005 not because it was false, but only because COMELEC took the position that domicile could be established only from petitioner's repatriation under R.A. No. 9225 in July 2006. However, it does not take away the fact that in reality, petitioner had returned from the U.S. and was here to stay permanently, on 24 May 2005. When she claimed to have been a resident for ten (10) years and eleven (11) months, she could do so in good faith.

For another, it could not be said that petitioner was attempting to hide anything. As already stated, a petition for quo warranto had been filed against her with the SET as early as August 2015. The event from which the COMELEC pegged the commencement of residence, petitioner's repatriation in July 2006 under R.A. No. 9225, was an established fact to repeat, for purposes of her senatorial candidacy.

Notably, on the statement of residence of six (6) years and six (6) months in the 2012 COC, petitioner recounted that this was first brought up in the media on 2 June 2015 by Rep. Tobias Tiangco of the United Nationalist Alliance. Petitioner appears to have answered the issue immediately, also in the press. Respondents have not disputed petitioner's evidence on this point. From that time therefore when Rep. Tiangco discussed it in the media, the stated period of residence in the 2012 COC and the circumstances that surrounded the statement were already matters of public record and were not hidden.

Petitioner likewise proved that the 2012 COC was also brought up in the SET petition for quo warranto. Her Verified Answer, which was filed on 1 September 2015, admitted that she made a mistake in the 2012 COC when she put in six (6) years and six (6) months as she misunderstood the question and could have truthfully indicated a longer period. Her answer in the SET case was a matter of public record. Therefore, when petitioner accomplished her COC for President on 15 October 2015, she could not be said to have been attempting to hide her erroneous statement in her 2012 COC for Senator which was expressly mentioned in her Verified Answer.

The facts now, if not stretched to distortion, do not show or even hint at an intention to hide the 2012 statement and have it covered by the 2015 representation. Petitioner, moreover, has on her side this Court's pronouncement that:
Concededly, a candidate's disqualification to run for public office does not necessarily constitute material misrepresentation which is the sole ground for denying due course to, and for the cancellation of, a COC. Further, as already discussed, the candidate's misrepresentation in his COC must not only refer to a material fact (eligibility and qualifications for elective office), but should evince a deliberate intent to mislead, misinform or hide a fact which would otherwise render a candidate ineligible. It must be made with an intention to deceive the electorate as to one's qualifications to run for public office.[168]
In sum, the COMELEC, with the same posture of infallibilism, virtually ignored a good number of evidenced dates all of which can evince animus manendi to the Philippines and animus non revertedi to the United States of America. The veracity of the events of coming and staying home was as much as dismissed as inconsequential, the focus having been fixed at the petitioner's "sworn declaration in her COC for Senator" which the COMELEC said "amounts to a declaration and therefore an admission that her residence in the Philippines only commence sometime in November 2006"; such that "based on this declaration, [petitioner] fails to meet the residency requirement for President." This conclusion, as already shown, ignores the standing jurisprudence that it is the fact of residence, not the statement of the person that determines residence for purposes of compliance with the constitutional requirement of residency for election as President. It ignores the easily researched matter that cases on questions of residency have been decided favorably for the candidate on the basis of facts of residence far less in number, weight and substance than that presented by petitioner.[169] It ignores, above all else, what we consider as a primary reason why petitioner cannot be bound by her declaration in her COC for Senator which declaration was not even considered by the SET as an issue against her eligibility for Senator. When petitioner made the declaration in her COC for Senator that she has been a resident for a period of six (6) years and six (6) months counted up to the 13 May 2013 Elections, she naturally had as reference the residency requirements for election as Senator which was satisfied by her declared years of residence. It was uncontested during the oral arguments before us that at the time the declaration for Senator was made, petitioner did not have as yet any intention to vie for the Presidency in 2016 and that the general public was never made aware by petitioner, by word or action, that she would run for President in 2016. Presidential candidacy has a length-of-residence different from that of a senatorial candidacy. There are facts of residence other than that which was mentioned in the COC for Senator. Such other facts of residence have never been proven to be false, and these, to repeat include:

[Petitioner] returned to the Philippines on 24 May 2005. [petitioner's] husband however stayed in the USA to finish pending projects and arrange the sale of their family home.

Meanwhile [petitioner] and her children lived with her mother in San Juan City. [Petitioner] enrolled Brian in Beacon School in Taguig City in 2005 and Hanna in Assumption College in Makati City in 2005. Anika was enrolled in Learning Connection in San Juan in 2007, when she was already old enough to go to school.
In the second half of 2005, [petitioner] and her husband acquired Unit 7F of One Wilson Place Condominium in San Juan. [Petitioner] and her family lived in Unit 7F until the construction of their family home in Corinthian Hills was completed.

Sometime in the second half of 2005, [petitioner's] mother discovered that her former lawyer who handled [petitioner's] adoption in 1974 failed to secure from the Office of the Civil Registrar of Iloilo a new Certificate of Live Birth indicating [petitioner's] new name and stating that her parents are "Ronald Allan K. Poe" and "Jesusa L. Sonora."

In February 2006, [petitioner] travelled briefly to the US in order to supervise the disposal of some of the family's remaining household belongings. [Petitioner] returned to the Philippines on 11 March 2006.

In late March 2006, [petitioner's] husband informed the United States Postal Service of the family's abandonment of their address in the US.

The family home in the US was sole on 27 April 2006.

In April 2006, [petitioner's] husband resigned from his work in the US. He returned to the Philippines on 4 May 2006 and began working for a Philippine company in July 2006.

In early 2006, [petitioner] and her husband acquired a vacant lot in Corinthian Hills, where they eventually built their family home.[170]
In light of all these, it was arbitrary for the COMELEC to satisfy its intention to let the case fall under the exclusive ground of false representation, to consider no other date than that mentioned by petitioner in her COC for Senator.

All put together, in the matter of the citizenship and residence of petitioner for her candidacy as President of the Republic, the questioned Resolutions of the COMELEC in Division and En Banc are, one and all, deadly diseased with grave abuse of discretion from root to fruits.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Resolutions, to wit:

1. dated 1 December 2015 rendered through the COMELEC Second Division, in SPA No. 15-001 (DC), entitled Estrella C. Elamparo, petitioner, vs. Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe-Llamanzares, respondent, stating that:
[T]he Certificate of Candidacy for President of the Republic of the Philippines in the May 9, 2016 National and Local Elections filed by respondent Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe-Llamanzares is hereby GRANTED.
2. dated 11 December 2015, rendered through the COMELEC First Division, in the consolidated cases SPA No. 15-002 (DC) entitled Francisco S. Tatad, petitioner, vs. Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe-Llamanzares, respondent; SPA No. 15-007 (DC) entitled Antonio P Contreras, petitioner, vs. Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe-Llamanzares, respondent; and SPA No. 15-139 (DC) entitled Amado D. Valdez, petitioner, v. Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe-Llamanzares, respondent; stating that:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Commission RESOLVED, as it hereby RESOLVES, to GRANT the petitions and cancel the Certificate of Candidacy of MARY GRACE NATIVIDAD SONORA POE-LLAMANZARES for the elective position of President of the Republic of the Philippines in connection with the 9 May 2016 Synchronized Local and National Elections.
3. dated 23 December 2015 of the COMELEC En Banc, upholding the 1 December 2015 Resolution of the Second Division stating that:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Commission RESOLVED, as it hereby RESOLVES, to DENY the Verified Motion for Reconsideration of SENATOR MARY GRACE NATIVIDAD SONORA POE-LLAMANZARES. The Resolution dated 11 December 2015 of the Commission First Division is AFFIRMED.
4. dated 23 December 2015 of the COMELEC En Banc, upholding the 11 December 2015 Resolution of the First Division.

are hereby ANNULED and SET ASIDE. Petitioner MARY GRACE NATIVIDAD SONORA POE-LLAMANZARES is DECLARED QUALIFIED to be a candidate for President in the National and Local Elections of 9 May 2016.

SO ORDERED.

Bersamin, and Mendoza, JJ., concur.
Sereno, C.J., Velasco, Jr., Jardeleza, and Caguioa, JJ., see concurring opinion.
Carpio, Brion, Del Castillo, and Perlas-Bernabe, JJ., see dissenting opinion.
Leonardo-De Castro, J., please see separate dissenting opinion.
Peralta, J., I join J. Caguioa's opinion.
Reyes, J., I concur with the dissenting opinion of J. Perlas-Bernabe.
Leonen, J., see separate concurring opinion.



NOTICE OF JUDGMENT

Sirs/Mesdames:

Please take notice that on March 8, 2016 a Decision/Resolution, copy attached herewith, was rendered by the Supreme Court in the above-entitled case, the original of which was received by this Office on March 11, 2016 at 5:33 a.m.


Very truly yours,

(SGD)
FELIPA G. BORLONGAN-ANAMA

Clerk of Court



[1] Petition for Certiorari in G.R. Nos. 221698-700, pp. 15-16; COMELEC First Division Resolution dated 11 December 2015 in SPA No. 15-002 (DC), SPA No. 15-007 (DC) and SPA No. 15-139 (DC), p. 2.

[2] Petition for Certiorari, id. at 16-17;

[3] COMELEC First Division Resolution, supra note 1 at 4.

[4] Petition for Certiorari, supra note 1 at 22.

[5] Id. at 17; Comment (on the Petition for Certiorari in G.R. No. 221697) filed by respondent COMELEC dated 11 January 2016, p. 6.

[6] Petition for Certiorari, id.; id. at 7.

[7] Id. at 18.

[8] Supra note 6.

[9] Id.

[10] COMELEC First Division Resolution, supra note 1 at 3.

[11] Petition for Certiorari, supra note 1 at 17.

[12] Id. at 18.

[13] Id.

[14] COMELEC First Division Resolution, supra note 10.

[15] Id.

[16] Supra note 1 at 17-18.

[17] COMELEC First Division Resolution, supra note 10.

[18] Id.

[19] Id.

[20] Petition for Certiorari, supra note 1 at 20.

[21] Id.

[22] Supra note 3.

[23] Supra note 20.

[24] Supra note 3.                                                                                                             

[25] Supra note 20.

[26] Supra note 3.

[27] Petition for Certiorari, supra note 4.

[28] Id.

[29] Id. at 23; COMELEC First Division Resolution, supra note 3.

[30] Id.; id.

[31] Id.; id.

[32] Id.; id.

[33] Id. at 23-24; COMELEC First Division Resolution, supra note 1 at 5.

[34] Id. at 24; id.

[35] Id.

[36] Supra note 34.

[37] Petition for Certiorari, supra note 1 at 25; COMELEC First Division Resolution, supra note 1 at 5.

[38] Id. at 25-26; id.

[39] Id. at 26; id.

[40] Id.; id.

[41] Id.; id.

[42] Id. at 32; id. at 6.

[43] Supra note 39.

[44] Petition for Certiorari, supra note 1 at 26-27; COMELEC First Division Resolution, supra note 1 at 5.

[45] Section 5, R.A. No. 9225 states:

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

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;

x x x x
[46] Petition for Certiorari, supra note 1 at 27.

[47] Id. at 29.

[48] Supra note 46; supra note 1 at 6.

[49] Petition for Certiorari, supra note 1 at 30; id.

[50] Id.

[51] Supra note 48.  

[52] Petition for Certiorari, supra note 1 at 31; COMELEC First Division Resolution, supra note 1 at 6.

[53] Comment, supra note 5 at 9.

[54] Petition for Certiorari, supra note 1 at 31.

[55] Id. at 32; Comment, supra note 53 at 10.

[56] Id.; COMELEC First Division Resolution, supra note 1 at 6.

[57] Id.; id. at 7.

[58] Id.; id.

[59] Comment (on the Petition in G.R. No. 221697) filed by respondent Elamparo, dated January 6, 2016, p. 7.

[60] COMELEC Second Division Resolution dated December 1, 2015 in SPA No. 15-001 (DC), p. 7.

[61] Id. at 7-8.

[62] Supra note 60.

[63] Id.

[64] Id. at 8.

[65] Id.

[66] Petition for Certiorari in G.R. No. 221697, p. 7.

[67] Supra note 64.

[68] Petition for Certiorari, supra note 65 at 8; COMELEC Second Division Resolution, supra note 60 at 8-11.

[69] COMELEC Second Division Resolution, supra note 60 at 34.

[70] Comment, supra note 59 at 10.

[71] Section I of Rule 25 ofthe COMELEC Rules of Procedure, as amended, states:

Rule 25 -Disqualification of Candidates

Section 1. Grounds. -Any candidate who, in an action or protest in which he is a party, is declared by final decision of a competent court, guilty of, or found by the Commission to be suffering from any disqualification provided by law or the Constitution.

A Petition to Disqualify a Candidate invoking grounds for a Petition to Deny to or Cancel a Certificate of Candidacy or Petition to Declare a Candidate as a Nuisance Candidate, or a combination thereof, shall be summarily dismissed.

[72] Petition to Disqualify dated 19 October 2015 filed by Tatad in SPA No. 15-002 (DC), p. 9.

[73] Id. at 9 and 14.

[74] Id. at 10.

[75] Id. at 12.

[76] Id. at 11.

[77] COMELEC First Division Resolution, supra note 1 at 8.

[78] Id.

[79] Petition to Disqualify, supra note 72 at 11.

[80] Id. at 21.

[81] Id.

[82] Id.

[83] Supra note 1 at 8.

[84] Id.

[85] Contreras' petition is a petition for cancellation of Grace Poe's COC under Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code which states that:

Sec. 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 the 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 due notice and hearing, not later than fifteen days before the election.

[86] Petition for Cancellation of Grace Poe's COC dated 17 October 2015 filed by Contreras in SPA No. 15-007 (DC), pp. 2-4.

[87] Id. at 3; Petition for Certiorari, supra note 1 at 13.

[88] Id. at 3-4.

[89] Sections 12 and 68 ofthe Omnibus Election Code provide:

Sec. 12. Disqualifications. - Any person who has been declared by competent authority insane or incompetent, or has been sentenced by final judgment for subversion, insurrection, rebellion or for any offense for which he has been sentenced to a penalty of more than eighteen months or for a crime involving moral turpitude, shall be disqualified to be a candidate and to hold any office, unless he has been given plenary pardon or granted amnesty.

This disqualifications to be a candidate herein provided shall be deemed removed upon the declaration by competent authority that said insanity or incompetence had been removed or after the expiration of a period of five years from his service of sentence, unless within the same period he again becomes disqualified.

Sec. 68. Disqualifications. - Any candidate who, in an action or protest in which he is a party is declared by final decision of a competent court guilty of, or found by the Commission of having (a) given money or other material consideration to influence, induce or corrupt the voters or public officials performing electoral functions; (b) committed acts of terrorism to enhance his candidacy; (c) spent in his election campaign an amount in excess of that allowed by this Code; (d) solicited, received or made any contribution prohibited under Sections 89, 95, 96, 97 and 104; or (e) violated any of Sections 80, 83, 85, 86 and 261, paragraphs d, e, k, v, and cc, sub-paragraph 6, shall be disqualified from continuing as a candidate, or if he has been elected, from holding the office. Any person who is a permanent resident of or an immigrant to a foreign country shall not be qualified to run for any elective office under this Code, unless said person has waived his status as permanent resident or immigrant of a foreign country in accordance with the residence requirement provided for in the election laws.

[90] COMELEC First Division Resolution, supra note 1 at 12.

[91] Id. at 10.

[92] Id.

[93] Id. at 9.

[94] Id.

[95] Id.

[96] Id.

[97] Id.

[98] Id.

[99] Id. at 9-10.

[100] Id. at 10.

[101] Id.

[102] Id.

[103] The 11 December 2015 Resolution of the COMELEC First Division was concurred in by Commissioners Louie Tito F. Guia and Ma. Rowena Amelia V. Guanzon. Presiding Commissioner Christian Robert S. Lim issued a Separate Dissenting Opinion.

[104] 318 Phil. 329 (1995).

[105] 595 Phil. 449 (2008).

[106] Romualdez-Marcos v. COMELEC, supra note 104 at 396-397.

[107] Id. at 397-398; Fermin v. COMELEC, supra note 105 at 471-472.

[108] In A.M. No. 02-6-02-SC, Resolution Approving The Proposed Rule on Adoption (Domestic and Inter-Country), effective 22 August 2002, "foundling" is defined as a deserted or abandoned infant or child whose parents, guardian or relatives are unknown; or a child committed to an orphanage or charitable or similar institution with unknown facts of birth and parentage and registered in the Civil Register as a "foundling."

[109] Article IV-Citizenship.

Sec. I. 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,

(2) Those born in the Philippine 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.

Section 2. Philippine citizenship may be lost or reacquired in the manner provided by law.

[110] Article 163 to 182, Title VI of Executive Order No. 209, otherwise known as The Family Code of the Philippines, which took effect on 4 August 1988.

[111] Statistics from the PSA or its predecessor agencies are admissible evidence. See Herrera v. COMELEC, 376 Phil. 443 (1999) and Bagabuyo v. COMELEC, 593 Phil. 678 (2008). In the latter case, the Court even took judicial notice of the figures.

[112] Transcipt of Stenographic Notes, 9 February 2016, p. 40.

[113] Section 3 (y), Rule 131.

[114] 236 Phil. 307 (1987).

[115] Id. at 314-315.

[116] English translation of the Spanish original presented in the petitioner's pleadings before the COMELEC and this Court. The COMELEC and private respondents have not disputed the accuracy and correctness of the translation.

[117] 1 Jose M. Aruego, The Framing of the Philippine Constitution 209 (1949).

[118] TSN, 16 February 2016, pp. 20-21.

[119] 117 Phil. 976 (1963).

[120] Id. at 978-979.

[121] See Section 5 of the RA No. 8552: "Location of Unknown Parent(s). - It shall be the duty of the Department or the child-caring agency which has custody of the child to exert all efforts to locate his/her unknown biological parent(s). If such efforts fail, the child shall be registered as a foundling and subsequently be the subject of legal proceedings where he/she shall be declared abandoned." (Underlining supplied)

[122] See Exhibit "1" in SPA No. 15-001 (DC) and SPA No. 15-00 (DC).

[123] See Exhibit "2" in SPA No. 15-001 (DC) and SPA No. 15-00 (DC).

[124] Razon, Jr. v. Tagitis, 621 Phil. 536, 600 (2009) citing Pharmaceutical and Health Care Assoc. of the Philippines v. Duque III, 561 Phil. 386, 398 (2007).

[125] Article 38.1, paragraphs (b) and (c) of the Statute of the International Court of Justice.

[126] Mijares v. Raiiada, 495 Phil. 372, 395 (2005).

[127] Pharmaceutical and Health Care Assoc. of the Philippines v. Duque III, 561 Phil. 386, 400 (2007).

[128] International School Alliance of Educators v. Quisumbing, 388 Phil. 661, 672-673 (2000).

[129] CONSTITUTION, Art. III, Sec. 1.

[130] Rep. of the Philippines v. Sandiganbayan, 454 Phil. 504, 545 (2003).

[131] "Everyone has the right to a nationality."

[132] See Introductory Note to the United Nations Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness issued by the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees.

[133] Supra note 124.

[134] Supra note 126.

[135] Id. at 392; See footnote No. 55 of said case.

[136] Pharmaceutical and Health Care Assoc. of the Philippines v. Duque III, supra note 127.

[137] See Exhibits 38 and 39-series.

[138] Opening Statement of the Solicitor General, p. 6.

[139] First Division resolution dated 11 December 2015, upheld in toto by the COMELEC En Banc.

[140] 409 Phil. 633, 649 (2001).

[141] 692 Phil. 407, 420 (2012).

[142] 551 Phil. 368, 381 (2007).

[143] 531 Phil. 407, 417 (2006).

[144] Supra note 142.

[145] Supra note 140 at 646.

[146] Id. at 651.

[147] G.R. No. 217126-27, 10 November 2015.

[148] Id.

[149] Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 8552, Art. VI, Sec. 33.
 
[150] Republic Act No. 8552 (1998), Sec. 14.

[151] Republic Act No. 8552 (1998), Sec. 15.

[152] Fernandez v. House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal, 623 Phil. 628, 660 (2009) citing Japzon v. COMELEC, 596 Phil. 354, 370-372 (2009) further citing Papandayan, Jr. v. COMELEC, 430 Phil. 754, 768-770 (2002) further further citing Romualdez v. RTC, Br. 7, Tacloban City, G.R. No. 104960, 14 September 1993, 226 SCRA 408, 415.

[153] Domino v. COMELEC, 369 Phil. 798, 819 (1999).

[154] TSN, 16 February 2016, p. 120.

[155] 434 Phil. 861 (2002).

[156] 596 Phil. 354 (2009).

[157] G.R. No. 209835, 22 September 2015.

[158] G.R. No. 207264, 25 June 2013, 699 SCRA 522.

[159]  Supra note 155.

[160] Supra note 156.

[161] Supra note 157.

[162] Supra note 158.

[163] Republic Act No. 6768 (1989), as amended, Sec. 2(a).

[164] Republic Act No. 6768 (1989), as amended, Sec. 1.

[165] Republic Act No. 6768 (1989), as amended, Sec. 6.

[166] Supra note 155.

[167] Supra note 104 at 326. (Emphasis supplied)

[168] Ugdoracion, Jr. v. COMELEC, 575 Phil. 253, 265-266 (2008).

[169] In Mitra v. COMELEC, et al., [636 PhiL 753 (2010)], It was ruled that the residence requirement can be complied with through an incremental process including acquisition of business interest in the pertinent place and lease of feedmill building as residence.

[170] COMELEC Resolution dated 11 December 2015 in SPA No. 15-002 (DC), pp. 4-5.



CONCURRING OPINION

SERENO, CJ.:

It is important for every Member of this Court to be and to remain professionally indifferent to the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. Whether it turns out to be for a candidate who best represents one's personal aspirations for the country or who raises one's fears, is a future event we must be blind to while we sit as magistrates. We are not the electorate, and at this particular juncture of history, our only role is to adjudicate as our unfettered conscience dictates. We have no master but the law, no drumbeater but reason, and in our hearts must lie only the love for truth and for justice. This is what the Constitution requires of us.

It is apropos at this point to recall the principles that Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez evoked in her concurring opinion in Tecson v. COMELEC,[1] the landmark case involving as respondent a presidential candidate for 2014, the late Ronald Allan Kelly-Poe:

x x x x

Let it not be forgotten that the historic core of our democratic system is political liberty, which is the right and opportunity to choose those who will lead the governed with their consent. This right to choose cannot be subtly interfered with through the elimination of the electoral choice. The present bid to disqualify respondent Poe from the presidential race is a clear attempt to eliminate him as one of the choices. This Court should resist such attempt. The right to choose is the single factor that controls the ambitions of those who would impose through force or stealth their will on the majority of citizens. We should not only welcome electoral competition, we should cherish it. Disqualifying a candidate, particularly the popular one, on the basis of doubtful claims does not result to a genuine, free and fair election. It results to violence. x x x. We have seen Edsa I and Edsa II, thus, we know that when democracy operates as intended, an aroused public can replace those who govern in a manner beyond the parameters established by public consent.[2]

x x x x

When the people vote on May 10 and cast their ballots for President, they will be exercising a sovereign right. They may vote for respondent Poe, or they may not. When they vote, they will consider a myriad of issues, some relevant, others trivial, including the eligibility of the candidates, their qualities of leadership, their honesty and sincerity, perhaps including their legitimacy. That is their prerogative. After the election, and only after, and that is what the Constitution mandates, the election of whoever is proclaimed winner may be challenged in an election contest or a petition for quo warranto. Where the challenge is because of ineligibility, he will be ousted only if this Court exerts utmost effort to resolve the issue in a manner that would give effect to the will of the majority, for it is merely sound public policy to cause elective offices to be filled by those who are the choice of the majority.[3]

That is what the COMELEC rulings in these cases would have precisely accomplished had they been affirmed: the illegitimate elimination of an electoral choice, a choice who appears to be one of the frontrunners in all the relevant surveys. For the reasons set forth below, I concur with Justice Jose Portugal Perez, and am herein expounding in detail the reasons for such concurrence.

With the majority of the Members of the Court declaring, by a vote of 9 as against 6, that petitioner Mary Grace Poe-Llamanzares has no legal impediment to run for the presidency, it is most unfortunate that one of the Dissenting Opinions opens with a statement that tries to cast uncertainty on an already tense situation. The dissent gives excessive weight to the fact that there are 5 Justices in the minority who believe that petitioner does not have the qualifications for presidency, while ignoring the reality that there at least 7 Justices who believe that petitioner possesses these qualifications.

Note that the fallo needed only to dispose of the grant or denial of the petitions and nothing more. Ideally, no further interpretation of the votes should have been made. Unfortunately, there are attempts to make such an interpretation. We therefore need to look to our internal rules for clarification on the matter to avoid exacerbating matters.

If we were to apply the rules on voting in the Internal Rules of the Supreme Court, it is clear that the Court decided on the matter of petitioner's intrinsic qualifications in accordance with Rule 12, Section 1 of these rules:

Section 1. Voting requirements. - (a) All decisions and actions in Court en banc cases shall be made up upon the concurrence of the majority of the Members of the Court who actually took part in the deliberation on the issues or issues involved and voted on them.

Out of the 12 Members who voted on the substantive question on citizenship, a clear majority of 7 voted in favor of petitioner. As to residency, 7 out of 13 voted that petitioner complied with the 10-year residency requirement. These votes, as explained in the extended opinions submitted by the members of the majority, must be respected. Granting therefore that we need to address the question of substantive qualifications of petitioner, she clearly possesses the qualifications for presidency on the matter of residency and citizenship.

I.
The Proceedings Before the Court

On 28 December 2015, petitioner filed two separate Petitions for Certiorari before this Court assailing the Resolutions dated 23 December 2015 of the COMELEC En Banc, which ordered the cancellation of her Certificate of Candidacy (CoC) for the 2016 presidential elections.[4] Both petitions included a prayer for the issuance of Temporary Restraining Orders (TRO) against the COMELEC.

In the afternoon of 28 December 2015, by my authority as Chief Justice and upon the written recommendation of the Members-in-Charge, the Court issued two separate orders enjoining COMELEC and its representatives from implementing the assailed Resolutions, pursuant to Section 6(g), Rule 7 of the Supreme Court Internal Rules.[5]

The issuance of the TROs was confirmed by the Court En Banc, voting 12-3, in Resolutions dated 12 January 2016. In the same resolutions, the Court ordered the consolidation of the two petitions.

Oral arguments were then held on the following dates: January 19 and 26; February 2, 9 and 16, 2016. During these proceedings, the parties were ordered in open court to submit their Memoranda within five days from the conclusion of the oral arguments, after which the consolidated petitions would be deemed submitted for resolution.

On 29 February 2016, the draft report of the Member-in-Charge was circulated to the Members of the Court. The Court then decided to schedule the deliberations on the case on 8 March 2016. A reserved date - 9 March 2016 - was also agreed upon, in the event that a decision is not reached during the 8 March 2016 session.

In keeping with the above schedule, the Members of the Court deliberated and voted on the case on 8 March 2016.

II
COMELEC exceeded its jurisdiction when it ruled on petitioner's qualifications under Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code.

The brief reasons why the COMELEC exceeded its jurisdiction when it ruled on petitioner's qualifications are as follows.

First, Section 78 of Batas Pambansa Bilang 118, or the Omnibus Election Code (OEC), does not allow the COMELEC to rule on the qualifications of candidates. Its power to cancel a Certificate of Candidacy (CoC) is circumscribed within the confines of Section 78 of the OEC that provides for a summary proceeding to determine the existence of the exclusive ground that any representation made by the candidate regarding a Section 74 matter was false. Section 74 requires, among others a statement by the candidate on his eligibility for office. To authorize the COMELEC to go beyond its mandate and rule on the intrinsic qualification of petitioner, and henceforth, of every candidate, is an outcome clearly prohibited by the Constitution and by the OEC.

Second, even assuming that the COMELEC may go beyond the determination of patent falsity of the CoC, its decision to cancel petitioner's CoC must still be reversed. The factual circumstances surrounding petitioner's claims of residency and citizenship show that there was neither intent to deceive nor false representation on her part. Worse, the COMELEC's unmerited use of this Court's dissenting opinions as if they were pronouncements of the Court itself[6] misleads both the Court and the public, as it evinces a refusal to acknowledge a dissent's proper place - not as law, but as the personal views of an individual member of this Court. Most egregiously, the COMELEC blatantly disregarded a long line of decisions by this Court to come up with its conclusions.

The Power of the COMELEC Prior
to Section 78 of the Omnibus
Election Code

Prior to the OEC, the power of the COMELEC in relation to the filing of CoCs had been described as ministerial and administrative.[7] In 1985, the OEC was passed, empowering the COMELEC to grant or deny due course to a petition to cancel a CoC. The right to file a verified petition under Section 78 was given to any person on the ground of material representation of the contents of the CoC as provided for under Section 74. Among the statements a candidate is required to make in the CoC, is that he or she is eligible for the office the candidate seeks.

The fundamental requirements for electoral office are found in the Constitution. With respect to the petitions at hand, these are the natural-born Filipino citizenship and the 10-year residency requirements for President found under Section 2, Article VII in relation to Section 1, Article IV of the Constitution.

In the deliberations of the Batasang Pambansa on what would turn out to be Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code or Batas Pambansa Bilang (BP) 881, the lawmakers emphasized that the fear of partisanship on the part of the COMELEC makes it imperative that it must only be for the strongest of reasons, i.e., material misrepresentation on the face of the CoC, that the COMELEC can reject any such certificates. Otherwise, to allow greater power than the quasi-ministerial duty of accepting facially compliant CoCs would open the door for COMELEC to engage in partisanship; the COMELEC may target any candidate at will. The fear was so real to the lawmakers that they characterized the power to receive CoCs not only as summary, but initially as, "ministerial." Allow me to quote:

HON. ADAZA. Why should we give the Comelec power to deny or to give due course when the acceptance of the certificate of candidacy is ministerial?

HON. FERNAN. Iyon na nga ang sinasabi ko eh.

THE CHAIRMAN. Baka iyong residences, this must be summary. He is not a resident of the ano, why will you wait? Automatically disqualified siya. Suppose he is not a natural born citizen.

HON. ADAZA. No, but we can specify the grounds here. Kasi, they can use this power to expand.

THE CHAIRMAN. Yeah, that is under this article nga.

HON. ADAZA. Iyon na nga, but let's make particular reference. Remember, Nonoy, this is a new provision which gives authority to the Comelec. This was never there before. Ikansel na natin yan.

HON. GONZALES. At saka the Constitution says, di ba? "The Commission on Election is the sole judge of all the contest." This merely refers to contest e. Petition fang to give due course e. You will only be declared disqualified.

THE CHAIRMAN. No, no, because, clearly, he is a non-resident. Oh, why can we not file a petition? Supposing he is not a natural born citizen? Why?

HON. GONZALES. This is a very very serious question. This should be declared only in proper election contest, properly litigated but never in a summary proceedings.

THE CHAIRMAN. We will not use the word, the phrase "due course", "seeking the cancellation of the Certificate of Candidacy". For example, si Ading, is a resident of Cebu and he runs in Davao City.

HON. ADAZA. He is a resident of Cebu but he runs in Lapu-Lapu? lkaw, you are already threatening him ah.

THE CHAIRMAN. These are the cases I am sure, that are ...

HON. ADAZA. I see. No, no, but let us get rid of the provision. This is dangerous.

THE CHAIRMAN. No but, if you know that your opponent is not elected or suppose ...

HON. ADAZA. File the proper petition like before without providing this.

THE CHAIRMAN. But in the mean time, why ...

HON. SITOY. My proposal is to delete the phrase "to deny due course", go direct to "seeking the cancellation of the Certificate of Candidacy."

HON. ASOK. Every Certificate of Candidacy should be presumed accepted. It should be presumed accepted.

THE CHAIRMAN. Suppose on the basis of. ..

HON. SITOY. That's why, my proposal is, "any person seeking the cancellation of a Certificate of Candidacy".

HON. FERNAN. But where are the grounds here?

HON. ADAZA. Noy, let's hold this. Hold muna ito. This is dangerous e.

THE CHAIRMAN. Okay, okay.

HON. GONZALES. Ginagamit lamang ng Comelec ang "before" if it is claimed that a candidate is an official or that his Certificate of Candidacy has been filed in bad faith, iyon lang. Pero you cannot go to the intrinsic qualifications and disqualifications of candidates.

HON. DELOS REYES. Which are taken up in an ordinary protest.

HON. GONZALES. Dito ba, kasama iyong proceedings sa ... ? What I'm saying is: Kagaya iyong nabanggit kay Nonoy, natural course of margin, imagine, it will eventually reach the Supreme Court. The moment that the disqualification is pending, lalong lalo na kung may decision ng Comelec and yet pending pa before the Supreme Court, that already adversely affect a candidate, mabigat na iyan. So, what I'm saying is, on this disqualification sub-judice, alisin ito except if on the ground that he is a nuisance candidate or that his Certificate of Candidacy has been filed in bad faith. But if his Certificate of Candidacy appears to be regular and valid on the basis that his certificate has been filed on time, then it should be given due couse.[8]

The same concerns were raised when the provision was taken up again:

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. No. 10, the power of the Commission to deny due course to or cancel a certificate of candidacy. What is the specific ano, Tessie?

HON. ADAZA. Page 45.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Section 71.

HON. ADAZA. Kasi kay Neptali ito and it is also contained in our previous proposal, "Any person seeking to deny due course to or cancel. . . " our proposal here is that it should not be made to appear that the Commission on Elections has the authority to deny due course to or cancel the certificate of candidacy. I mean their duty should be ministerial, the acceptance, except in cases where they are nuisance candidates.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. In case of nuisance, who will determine, hindi ba Comelec iyan?

HON. ADAZA. Iyon na nga, except in those cases, eh. Ito, this covers a provision not only in reference to nuisance candidates.

HON. CUENCO. Will you read the provision?

HON. ADAZA. "Any person seeking due course to or the cancellation ... " because our position here is that these are matters that should be contained in an election protest or in a quo warranto proceedings, eh. You know, you can be given a lot of problems in the course of the campaign.

HON. ASOK. But we already have a specific provision on this.

HON. ADAZA. (MP Adaza reading the provision.) You know, we should not have this as a provision anymore because whatever matters will be raised respecting this certificate of candidacy, these are normal issues for protest or quo warranto, eh.

HON. CUENCO. So you now want to remove this power from the Comelec?

HON. ADAZA. This power from the Comelec. This is the new provision, eh. They should not have this. All of us can be bothered, eh.

HON. CUENCO. So in that case how can the Comelec cancel the certificate of candidacy when you said. . .

HON. ADAZA. Only with respect to the nuisance candidates. There is no specific provision.

HON. ASOK. There is already a specific provision for nuisance candidates.

HON. ADAZA. This one refers to other candidates who are not nuisance candidates, but most particularly refers to matters that are involved in protest and quo warranto proceedings. Why should we expand their other provisions before. You know, you can get bothered.

HON. CUENCO. Everybody will be vulnerable?

HON. ADAZA. Yeah, everybody will be vulnerable, eh.

HON. CUENCO. Even if you are a serious candidate?

HON. ADAZA. Even if you are a serious candidate because, for instance, they will file a petition for quo warranto, they can file a petition to the Comelec to cancel your certificate of candidacy. These are actually grounds for protest or for quo warranto proceedings.

x x x x

HON. CUENCO. By merely alleging, for example, that you are a subversive.

HON. ADAZA. Oo, iyon na nga, eh.

x x x x

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Suppose you are disqualified, you do not have the necessary qualifications, the Comelec can motu propio cancel it.

HON. CUENCO. On what ground, Mr. Chairman?

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. You are disqualified. Let's say, wala kang residence or kuwan ...

HON. ADAZA. Ah, that's the problem.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. That's why.

HON. ADAZA. We should not allow that thing to crop up within the powers of the Comelec because anyone can create problem for everybody. You know, that's a proper subject for protest or quo warranto. But not to empower the Comelec to cancel. That's a very dangerous provision. It can reach all of us.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Hindi, if you are a resident pero iyong, let's say a new comer comes to Misamis Oriental, 3 months before and file his Certificate of Candidacy.

HON. ADAZA. Never mind, file the necessary petition.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. These are the cases they say, that will be involved.

HON. ADAZA. I think we should kuwan that e.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Iyon talagang non-resident and then he goes there and file his certificate, You can, how can anybody stop him, di ba?

HON. ADAZA. No, let me cite to you cases, most people running for instance in the last Batasan, especially in the highly urbanized city, they were residence in one particular city but actually running in the province. You see, how you can be bothered if you empower the Comelec with this authority to cancel, there would have been many that would have been cancelled.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. There were many who tried to beat the deadline.

HON. ADAZA. No, there are many who did not beat the deadline, I know.

HON. LOOD. The matter of point is the word Article 8, Article 8, provides full responsibility for ...

HON. ADAZA. Which one? That's right.

HON. LOOD. That's why it includes full ... (Unintelligible).

HON. ADAZA. No, it's very dangerous. We will be all in serious trouble. Besides, that covered already by specific provisions. So, can we agree. Anyway it is this new provision which is dangerous.

HON CUENCO. So, you want the entire provision?

HON. LOOD. Unless we make exception.[9]

The Summary Nature of Proceedings
under Section 78 Only Allow the
COMELEC to Rule on Patent
Material Misrepresentation of Facts
on Residency and Citizenship, not of
Conclusions of Law, and especially,
not in the Absence of Established
Legal Doctrines on the Matter

The original intent of the legislature was clear: to make the denial of due course or cancellation of certificate of candidacy before the COMELEC a summary proceeding that would not go into the intrinsic validity of the qualifications of the candidate, even to the point of making the power merely ministerial in the absence of patent defects. There was concern among some other members about giving the COMELEC the power to deny due course to or cancel outright the certificate of candidacy. As such, the proposal was to remove Section 78 entirely or to lay down specific parameters in order to limit the power of the COMELEC under the provision. Thus, in interpreting the language of Section 78 as presently crafted, those intended limitations must be kept in mind. This includes retaining the summary nature of Section 78 proceedings.

Reyes v. Commission on Elections[10] provides an insight into the summary nature of a Section 78 proceeding:

The special action before the COMELEC which was a Petition to Cancel Certificate of Candidacy was a SUMMARY PROCEEDING or one "heard summarily." The nature of the proceedings is best indicated by the COMELEC Rule on Special Actions, Rule 23, Section 4 of which states that the Commission may designate any of its officials who are members of the Philippine Bar to hear the case and to receive evidence. COMELEC Rule 17 further provides in Section 3 that when the proceedings are authorized to be summary, in lieu of oral testimonies, the parties may, after due notice, be required to submit their position paper together with affidavits, counter-affidavits and other documentary evidence; ... and that "[t]his provision shall likewise apply to cases where the hearing and reception of evidence are delegated by the Commission or the Division to any of its officials .... "

x x x x

In fact, in summary proceedings like the special action of filing a petition to deny due course or to cancel a certificate of candidacy, oral testimony is dispensed with and, instead, parties are required to submit their position paper together with affidavits, counter affidavits and other pieces of documentary evidence.

The Summary nature of Section 78 proceeding implies the simplicity of subject-matter[11] as it does away with long drawn and complicated trial-type litigation. Considering its nature, the implication therefore, is that Section 78 cases contemplate simple issues only. Any issue that is complex would entail the use of discretion, the exercise of which is reserved to the appropriate election tribunal. With greater reason then, claims of candidate on a matter of opinion on unsettled questions of law, cannot be the basis for the denial of a CoC.

Section 78 Proceedings Cannot Take
the Place of a Quo Warranto
Proceeding or an Electoral Protest

The danger of the COMELEC effectively thwarting the voter's will was clearly articulated by Justice Vicente V. Mendoza in his separate opinion in the case involving Mrs. Imelda Romualdez Marcos.[12] The Court voted to grant the Rule 64 Petition of Mrs. Marcos to invalidate the COMELEC's Resolution denying her Amended CoC. Justice Mendoza wanted the Court to do so on the prior threshold issue of jurisdiction, i.e., that the COMELEC did not have even the power to assume jurisdiction over the petition of Cirilo Montejo because it was in effect a petition for disqualification. Thus, the COMELEC resolution was utterly void. Justice Mendoza explains Section 78 in relation to petitions for disqualification under the Constitution and relevant laws. The allegations in the Montejo's petition were characterized, thus:

The petition filed by private respondent Cirilo Roy Montejo in the COMELEC, while entitled "For Cancellation and Disqualification," contained no allegation that private respondent Imelda Romualdez-Marcos made material representations in her certificate of candidacy which were false, it sought her disqualification on the ground that "on the basis of her Voter Registration Record and Certificate of Candidacy, [she] is disqualified from running for the position of Representative, considering that on election day, May 8, 1995, [she] would have resided less than ten (10) months in the district where she is seeking to be elected." For its part, the COMELEC's Second Division, in its resolution of April 24, 1995, cancelled her certificate of candidacy and corrected certificate of candidacy on the basis of its finding that petitioner is "not qualified to run for the position of Member of the House of Representatives for the First Legislative District of Leyte" and not because of any finding that she had made false representations as to material matters in her certificate of candidacy.

Montejo's petition before the COMELEC was therefore not a petition for cancellation of certificate of candidacy under § 78 of the Omnibus Election Code, but essentially a petition to declare private respondent ineligible. It is important to note this, because, as will presently be explained, proceedings under § 78 have for their purpose to disqualify a person from being a candidate, whereas quo warranto proceedings have for their purpose to disqualify a person from holding public office. Jurisdiction over quo warranto proceedings involving members of the House of Representatives is vested in the Electoral Tribunal of that body.[13]

Justice Mendoza opined that the COMELEC has no power to disqualify candidates on the ground of ineligibility, elaborating thus:

In my view the issue in this case is whether the Commission on Elections has the power to disqualify candidates on the ground that they lack eligibility for the office to which they seek to be elected. I think that it has none and that the qualifications of candidates may be questioned only in the event they are elected, by filing a petition for quo warranto or an election protest in the appropriate forum, not necessarily in the COMELEC but, as in this case, in the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal. That the parties in this case took part in the proceedings in the COMELEC is of no moment. Such proceedings were unauthorized and were not rendered valid by their agreement to submit their dispute to that body.

The various election laws will be searched in vain for authorized proceedings for determining a candidate's qualifications for an office before his election. There are none in the Omnibus Election Code (B.P. Blg. 881), in the Electoral Reforms Law of 1987 (R.A. No. 6646), or in the law providing for synchronized elections (R.A. No. 7166). There are, in other words, no provisions for pre-proclamation contests but only election protests or quo warranto proceedings against winning candidates.

To be sure, there are provisions denominated for "disqualification," but they are not concerned with a declaration of the ineligibility of a candidate. These provisions are concerned with the incapacity (due to insanity, incompetence or conviction of an offense) of a person either to be a candidate or to continue as a candidate for public office. There is also a provision for the denial or cancellation of certificates of candidacy, but it applies only to cases involving false representations as to certain matters required by law to be stated in the certificates.[14]

He then proceeded to cite the three reasons explaining the absence of an authorized proceeding for determining before election the qualifications of a candidate:

First is the fact that unless a candidate wins and is proclaimed elected, there is no necessity for determining his eligibility for the office. In contrast, whether an individual should be disqualified as a candidate for acts constituting election offenses (e.g., vote buying, over spending, commission of prohibited acts) is a prejudicial question which should be determined lest he wins because of the very acts for which his disqualification is being sought. That is why it is provided that if the grounds for disqualification are established, a candidate will not be voted for; if he has been voted for, the votes in his favor will not be counted; and if for some reason he has been voted for and he has won, either he will not be proclaimed or his proclamation will be set aside.

Second is the fact that the determination of a candidate's eligibility, e.g., his citizenship or, as in this case, his domicile, may take a long time to make, extending beyond the beginning of the term of the office. This is amply demonstrated in the companion case (G.R. No. 120265, Agapito A. Aquino v. COMELEC) where the determination of Aquino's residence was still pending in the COMELEC even after the elections of May 8, 1995. This is contrary to the summary character of proceedings relating to certificates of candidacy. That is why the law makes the receipt of certificates of candidacy a ministerial duty of the COMELEC and its officers. The law is satisfied if candidates state in their certificates of candidacy that they are eligible for the position which they seek to fill, leaving the determination of their qualifications to be made after the election and only in the event they are elected. Only in cases involving charges of false representations made in certificates of candidacy is the COMELEC given jurisdiction.

Third is the policy underlying the prohibition against pre-proclamation cases in elections for President, Vice President, Senators and members of the House of Representatives. (R.A. No. 7166, § 15) The purpose is to preserve the prerogatives of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal and the other Tribunals as "sole judges" under the Constitution of the election, returns and qualifications of members of Congress or of the President and Vice President, as the case may be.[15]

The legal differentiation between Section 78 vis-a-vis quo warranto proceedings and electoral protests made by Justice Mendoza in the Romualdez Marcos case was completely adopted, and affirmed by a unanimous Court in Fermin v. COMELEC.[16] Fermin v. COMELEC has been affirmed in Munder v. Commission on Elections,[17] Agustin v. Commission on Elections[18] Talaga v. Commission on Elections,[19] Mitra v. Commission on Elections,[20] Hayundini v. Commission on Elections,[21] Aratea v. Commission on Elections[22] Gonzalez v.Commission on Elections[23] Jalosjos, Jr. v. Commission on Elections,[24] Dela Cruz v. Commission on Elections,[25] and Maruhom v. COMELEC,[26] thus the Mendoza formulation has become settled doctrine.

It is clear that what the minority herein is attempting to accomplish is to authorize the COMELEC to rule on the intrinsic qualifications of petitioner, and henceforth, of every candidate - an outcome clearly prohibited by the Constitution and by the Omnibus Election Code. That this was also the objective of the minority justices in Tecson v. COMELEC should warn us that the proposal of the minority herein will result in the direct reversal of the said case.

In Tecson, the COMELEC contended it did not have the jurisdiction to rule on the qualification of Ronald Allan Kelley Poe. The COMELEC stated that it could only rule that FPJ did not commit material misrepresentation in claiming that he was a natural-born Filipino citizen, there being substantial basis to support his belief that he was the son of a Filipino. The Court upheld this conclusion of the COMELEC, and in the dispositive conclusions portion of the Decision held:

(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, must not only be material, but also deliberate and willful.

The Court made two important rulings on this particular point. First, that Mr. Fornier, the petitioner in the COMELEC case to deny Mr. Poe's CoC, had the burden to prove that Mr. Poe committed material misrepresentation. Second, even assuming that the petitioner therein was able to make out a prima facie case of material misrepresentation, the evidence on Mister Poe's side preponderated in favor of the conclusion that he did not make any material misrepresentation. Thus, the COMELEC was correct in saying that there was no basis to grant Fornier's Section 78 petition. Mr. Poe, We said, did not have to conclusively establish his natural-born citizenship; preponderance of evidence was sufficient to prove his right to be a candidate for President.

It is absolutely offensive to Our concept of due process for the COMELEC to insist on its own interpretation of an area of the Constitution that this Court has yet to squarely rule upon, such as the citizenship of a foundling. It was also most unfair of COMELEC to suddenly impose a previously non-existing formal requirement on candidates-such as a permanent resident visa or citizenship itself-to begin the tolling of the required duration of residency. Neither statutes nor jurisprudence require those matters. COMELEC grossly acted beyond its jurisdiction by usurping the powers of the legislature and the judiciary.

Section 78 and Material Misrepresentation

It must be emphasized that all the decisions of the COMELEC where the Court upheld its denial of a CoC on the basis of an alleged misrepresentation pertaining to citizenship and residency, were all denials on matters of fact that were either uncontroverted, or factual matters that were proven to be false. None of them had to do with any question of law.

In the following cases, we upheld the COMELEC'S denial of the CoCs: Labo, Jr. v. COMELEC[27], (Labo's statement that he was a natural-born citizen was disproved on the ground that he failed to submit any evidence proving his reacquisition of Philippine citizenship); Abella v . COMELEC[28] (Abella, a candidate for governor of Leyte, and undisputedly a resident of Ormoc City, an independent component city, failed to establish a new domicile in Kananga, Leyte ); Domino v. Commission on Elections,[29] (the lease contract over a residence in Sarangani Province failed to produce the kind of permanency necessary to establish abandonment of one's original domicile); Caballero v. Commission on Elections,[30] (petitioner, who had effectively transferred his domicile of choice in Canada, failed to present competent evidence to prove that he was able to re-establish his residence in Uyugan); Jalosjos v. Commission on Elections,[31] (Svetlana Jalosjos, whose domicile of origin was San Juan, Metro Manila, failed to acquire a domicile of choice in Baliangao, Misamis Occidental, prior to the May 2010 elections); Aquino v. Commission on Elections,[32] (Aquino, whose domicile of origin was San Jose, Concepcion, Tarlac, failed to established a new domicile in the Second District of Makati City on the mere basis of a lease agreement of a condominium unit); Reyes v. Commission on Elections[33] (where petitioner, who previously admitted that she was a holder of a U.S. passport, failed to submit proof that she reacquired her Filipino citizenship under RA 9225 or that she maintained her domicile of origin in Boac, Marinduque ); Dumpit-Michelena v. Boado[34] (candidate Dumpit-Michelena was not a resident of Agoo, La Union - voter's registration at Naguilian, La Union and joint affidavit of all barangay officials of San Julian West, Agoo taken as proof that she was not a resident of the barangay); Hayudini v. Commission on Elections[35] (candidate Hayudini was not a resident of South Ubian, Tawi-Tawi - based on a final RTC Decision ordering the deletion of Hayudini's name in Barangay Bintawlan's permanent list of voters); Velasco v. Commission on Elections[36] (court ruling that he was not a registered voter of Sasmuan, Pampanga); Bautista v. Commission on Elections[37] (admission that he was not a registered voter of Lumbangan, Nasugbu, Batangas where he was running as punong barangay); Ugdoracion, Jr. v. Commission on Elections[38] (admission that he was at the time of the filing of the CoC still a holder of a then valid green card); and Jalosjos v. Commission on Elections[39] (temporary and intermittent stay in a stranger's house does not amount to residence).

In fact, in the only case of material misrepresentation on citizenship where the Supreme Court agreed to a Section 78 denial by the COMELEC, was in the case of Mr. Ramon L. Labo, Jr. of Baguio City[40] who had previously been declared by the Supreme Court itself as not a Filipino citizen.[41] In the Labo case, there was a prior binding conclusion of law that justified the action of the COMELEC in denying the CoC. It is important to emphasize this considering the dangers of an overly broad reading of the COMELEC's power under Section 78.

A candidate commences the process of being voted into office by filing a certificate of candidacy (CoC). A candidate states in his CoC, among others, that he is eligible to run for public office, as provided under Section 74 of the Omnibus Election Code. Thus:

Sec. 74. Contents of certificate of candidacy. - The certificate of candidacy shall state that the person filing it is announcing his candidacy for the office stated therein and that he is eligible for said office; if for Member of the Batasang Pambansa, the province, including its component cities, highly urbanized city or district or sector which he seeks to represent; the political party to which he belongs; civil status; his date of birth; residence; his post office address for all election purposes; his profession or occupation; that he will support and defend the Constitution of the Philippines and will maintain true faith and allegiance thereto; that he will obey the laws, legal orders, and decrees promulgated by the duly constituted authorities; that he is not a permanent resident or immigrant to a foreign country; that the obligation imposed by his oath is assumed voluntarily, without mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that the facts stated in the certificate of candidacy are true to the best of his knowledge.

As used in Section 74, the word "eligible" means having the right to run for elective public office; that is, having all the qualifications and none of the ineligibilities.[42] The remedy to remove from the electoral ballot, the names of candidates who are not actually eligible, but who still state under oath in their CoCs that they are eligible to run for public office, is for any person to file a petition under Section 78, which provides:

Sec. 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. 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 due notice and hearing, not later than fifteen days before the election. (Emphasis supplied)

How Legally Significant is the Intent
to Deceive for a Section 78 OEC
Petition to Prosper?

It was proposed by Justice Dante O. Tinga in his Dissenting Opinion in Tecson v. COMELEC that the intent to deceive was never contemplated as an essential element to prove a Section 78 petition.[43] The problem with this opinion is that it remains a proposed reversal of a doctrine that remains firmly entrenched in our jurisprudence. In a long line of cases, starting with Romualdez-Marcos v. COMELEC[44] in 1995, this Court has invariably held that intent to deceive the electorate is an essential element for a Section 78 petition to prosper.

In Romualdez-Marcos, the Court ruled that it is the fact of the qualification, not a statement in a certificate of candidacy, which ought to be decisive in determining whether or not an individual has satisfied the constitution's qualification requirements. The statement in the certificate of candidacy becomes material only when there is or appears to be a deliberate attempt to mislead, misinform, or hide a fact which would otherwise render a candidate ineligible.[45]

This ruling was adopted by the Court in a long line of cases, in which it was ruled that aside from the requirement of materiality, a petition under Section 78 must also show that there was malicious intent to deceive the electorate as to the candidate's qualifications for public office.

In Salcedo II v. COMELEC, [46] the Court affirmed the decision of the COMELEC denying the petition to cancel the CoC filed by Ermelita Cacao Salcedo, a candidate for mayor of Sara, Iloilo. Apart from finding that the use of the surname "Salcedo" was not a material qualification covered by Section 78, the Court also declared that there was no intention on the part of the candidate to mislead or deceive the public as to her identity. We concluded that, in fact, there was no showing that the voters of the municipality were deceived by Salcedo's use of such surname; consequently, the COMELEC correctly refused to cancel her CoC.

On the other hand, in Velasco v. COMELEC,[47] We upheld the cancellation of the CoC filed by Nardo Velasco because he made a material misrepresentation as to his registration as a voter. In Our discussion, We emphasized that Velasco knew that his registration as a voter had already been denied by the RTC, but he still stated under oath in his CoC that he was a voter of Sasmuan.[48] This was considered sufficient basis for the COMELEC to grant the Section 78 petition.[49]

In Justimbaste v. Commission on Elections,[50] this Court sustained the COMELEC's dismissal of the petition of cancellation filed against Rustico B. Balderian because there was no showing that he had the intent to deceive the voting public as to his identity when he used his Filipino name, instead of his Chinese name, in his CoC.

On the other hand, in Maruhom v. COMELEC,[51] We upheld the cancellation of the CoC of Jamela Salic Maruhom because she had subsisting voter registrations in both the municipalities of Marawi and Marantao in Lanao del Sur. We emphasized that Maruhom deliberately attempted to conceal this fact from the electorate as it would have rendered her ineligible to run as mayor of Marantao.

The element of intent was again required by this Court in Mitra v COMELEC.[52] In that case, We reversed the ruling of the COMELEC, which cancelled the CoC filed by Abraham Kahlil B. Mitra because the commission "failed to critically consider whether Mitra deliberately attempted to mislead, misinform or hide a fact that would otherwise render him ineligible for the position of Governor of Palawan." Upon an examination of the evidence in that case, We concluded that there was no basis for the COMELEC's conclusion that Mitra deliberately attempted to mislead the Palawan electorate.

The presence of intent to deceive the electorate was also a controlling factor in the decision of the Court in Panlaqui v. COMELEC.[53] We ruled that the decision of the Regional Trial Court to exclude Nardo Velasco as a voter did not result in the cancellation of his CoC for mayor of Sasmuan, Pampanga. Said this Court:

It is not within the province of the RTC in a voter's inclusion/exclusion proceedings to take cognizance of and determine the presence of a false representation of a material fact. It has no jurisdiction to try the issues of whether the misrepresentation relates to material fact and whether there was an intention to deceive the electorate in terms of one's qualifications for public office. The finding that Velasco was not qualified to vote due to lack of residency requirement does not translate into a finding of a deliberate attempt to mislead, misinform, or hide a fact which would otherwise render him ineligible.

In Gonzales v COMELEC,[54] the Court distinguished between a petition for cancellation under Section 78 and a petition for cancellation under Section 68 of the OEC, in order to determine whether the petition filed against Ramon Gonzales was filed on time. We declared that a Section 78 petition must pertain to a false representation on a material matter that is made with the deliberate intent to mislead, misinform, or hide a fact which would otherwise render a candidate ineligible. Upon finding these elements in the petition filed against Fernando V. Gonzales, We ruled that the applicable period for filing the petition is that prescribed under Section 78 i.e. within twenty-five days from the filing of the COC. Since the petition was filed beyond this period, this Court declared that the COMELEC erred in giving due course to the same.

The requirement of intent was likewise reiterated in Tecson v. COMELEC,[55] Ugdoracion, Jr. v. Commission on Elections,[56] Fermin v. Commission on Elections,[57] Aratea v. Commission on Elections[58] and Talaga v. Commission on Elections.[59]

It has been claimed, however, that this Court in Tagolino v. HRET,[60] abandoned this requisite when it stated that "deliberateness of the misrepresentation, much less one's intent to defraud, is of bare significance in a Section 78 petition as it is enough that the person's declaration of a material qualification in the [certificate of candidacy] be false." In that case, the Court, using Miranda v. Abaya[61] as basis, stated that:

In this relation, jurisprudence holds that an express finding that the person committed any deliberate misrepresentation is of little consequence in the determination of whether one's CoC should be deemed cancelled or not. What remains material is that the petition essentially seeks to deny due course to and/or cancel the CoC on the basis of one's ineligibility and that the same be granted without any qualification.[62]

It is important to note that the statement regarding intent to deceive was only an obiter dictum. The primary issue in both Tagolino and Miranda is whether a candidate whose certificate of candidacy had been denied due course or cancelled may be validly substituted in the electoral process. In other words, the cases dealt with the effect of the denial of due course or cancellation of a certificate of candidacy, and not on the validity or soundness of the denial or cancellation itself.

Furthermore, in Miranda, We clarified the COMELEC's use of the word "disqualified" when granting a petition that prays for the denial of due course or cancellation of a certificate of candidacy. This Court said:

From a plain reading of the dispositive portion of the Comelec resolution of May 5, 1998 in SPA No. 98-019, it is sufficiently clear that the prayer specifically and particularly sought in the petition was GRANTED, there being no qualification on the matter whatsoever. The disqualification was simply ruled over and above the granting of the specific prayer for denial of due course and cancellation of the certificate of candidacy.[63]

Clearly, the phrase "no qualification" in Miranda, which was essentially echoed in Tagolino, referred to the ruling of the COMELEC to grant the petition to deny due course to or cancel the certificate of candidacy. It did not refer to the false representation made by the candidate in his certificate of candidacy.

At any rate, after Tagolino, We reiterated the requirement of deceit for a Section 78 petition to prosper in four more cases.[64] Our most recent pronouncements in Jalover v. Osmena,[65] reiterated that a petition under Section 78 cannot prosper in a situation where the intent to deceive or defraud is patently absent, or where no deception of the electorate results. Furthermore, the misrepresentation cannot be the result of a mere innocuous mistake, but must pertain to a material fact.

Said Justice Arturo D. Brion in the 2014 unanimous Jalover v. Osmena decision:

Separate from the requirement of materiality, a false representation under Section 78 must consist of a deliberate attempt to mislead, misinform, or hide a fact, which would otherwise render a candidate ineligible. (citing Ugdoracion, Jr. v. Commission on Elections) In other words, it must be made with the intention to deceive the electorate as to the would be candidate's qualifications for public office. In Mitra v. COMELEC, we held that the misrepresentation that Section 78 addresses cannot be the result of a mere innocuous mistake, and cannot exist in a situation where the intent to deceive is patently absent, or where no deception of the electorate results. The deliberate character of the misrepresentation necessarily follows from a consideration of the consequences of any material falsity: a candidate who falsifies a material fact cannot run.

Thus, a petition to deny due course to or cancel a certificate of candidacy according to the prevailing decisions of this Court still requires the following essential allegations: (1) the candidate made a representation in the certificate; (2) the representation pertains to a material matter which would affect the substantive rights of the candidate (the right to run for the election); and (3) the candidate made the false representation with the intention to deceive the electorate as to his qualification for public office or deliberately attempted to mislead, misinform, or hide a fact which would otherwise render him ineligible.[66]

Romualdez- Marcos v. COMELEC is again worth recalling.[67] We ruled therein that it is the fact of the disqualification, not a statement in a certificate of candidacy which ought to be decisive in determining whether or not an individual has satisfied the constitution's qualification requirements. The statement in the certificate of candidacy becomes material only when there is or appears to be a deliberate attempt to mislead, misinform or hide a fact which would otherwise render a candidate ineligible.[68]

In Mitra v. COMELEC,[69] We gave importance to the character of a representation made by a candidate in the certificate of candidacy. This Court found grave abuse of discretion on the part of the COMELEC when it failed to take into account whether there had been a deliberate misrepresentation in Mitra's certificate of candidacy.[70] The COMELEC cannot simply assume that an error in the certificate of candidacy was necessarily a deliberate falsity in a material representation.[71]

It must be emphasized that under Section 78, it is not enough that a person lacks the relevant qualification; he must have also made a false representation of the lack of qualification in the certificate of candidacy.[72] The denial of due course to, or the cancellation of the certificate of candidacy, is not based on the lack of qualifications but on a finding that the candidate made a material representation that is false, which relates to the qualifications required of the public office the candidate is running for.[73]

Considering that intent to deceive is a material element for a successful petition under Section 78, a claim of good faith is a valid defense. Misrepresentation means the act of making a false or misleading assertion about something, usually with the intent to deceive.[74] It is not just written or spoken words, but also any other conduct that amounts to a false assertion.[75] A material misrepresentation is a false statement to which a reasonable person would attach importance in deciding how to act in the transaction in question or to which the maker knows or has reason to know that the recipient attaches some importance.[76]

In the sphere of election laws, a material misrepresentation pertains to a candidate's act with the intention to gain an advantage by deceitfully claiming possession of all the qualifications and none of the disqualifications when the contrary is true.

A material misrepresentation is incompatible with a claim of good faith. Good faith encompasses, among other things, an honest belief, the absence of malice and the absence of a design to defraud or to seek an unconscionable advantage.[77] It implies honesty of intention and honest belief in the validity of one's right, ignorance of a contrary claim, and absence of intention to deceive another.[78]

Burden of Proof in Section 78 Proceedings

Section 1, Rule 131 of the Revised Rules on Evidence defines burden of proof as "the duty of a party to present evidence on the facts in issue necessary to establish his claim" "by the amount of evidence required by law." When it comes to a Section 78 proceeding, it is the petitioner who has the burden of establishing material misrepresentation in a CoC.[79]

Since the COMELEC is a quasi-judicial body, the petitioner must establish his case of material misrepresentation by substantial evidence.[80] Substantial evidence is that amount of relevant evidence which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to justify a conclusion.

Burden of proof never shifts.[81] It is the burden of evidence that shifts.[82] Hence, in a Section 78 proceeding, if the petitioner comes up with a prima facie case of material misrepresentation, the burden of evidence shifts to the respondent.

In this case, respondents had the burden to establish the following: (1) falsity of the representations made by petitioner with regard to her citizenship and residence; and (2) intent to deceive or mislead the electorate.

On residence

As will be further discussed below, respondents mainly relied on the representation that petitioner previously made in her 2012 CoC for the position of Senator to establish the requirements of falsity and intent to deceive. Petitioner, however, has shown by an abundance of substantial evidence that her residence in the Philippines commenced on 24 May 2005 and that the statement she made in the 2012 CoC was due to honest mistake. But respondents failed to meet head on this evidence. Hence, they failed to discharge their burden of proving material misrepresentation with respect to residency.

Furthermore, the COMELEC unreasonably shifted the burden of proof to petitioner, declaring that she had the burden to show that she possessed the qualifications to run for President. As previously discussed, respondents had the burden to establish the key elements for a Section 78 petition to prosper.

On citizenship

With respect to the issue of citizenship, respondents leaned heavily on petitioner's admission that she was a foundling. Nevertheless, this did not establish the falsity of petitioner's claim that she was a natural-born citizen. Presumptions operated profoundly in her favor to the effect that a foundling is a natural-born citizen. Further, she had a right to rely on these legal presumptions, thus negating the notion of deception on her part. Thus, respondents failed to discharge their burden of proving material misrepresentation with respect to residency.

Yet, the COMELEC unfairly placed the burden of proof on petitioner when, for reasons already discussed, the onus properly fell on respondents. This point will be more comprehensively discussed below.

III.
The COMELEC acted with grave abuse of discretion when it cancelled petitioner's 2016 Certificate of Candidacy in the absence of any material misrepresentation on residency or citizenship.

In my view, the fact that the COMELEC went beyond an examination of the patent falsity of the representations in the CoC is enough to demonstrate its grave abuse of discretion. I maintain that a Section 78 proceeding must deal solely with "patent defects in the certificates" and not the question of eligibility or ineligibility. The commission clearly exceeded the limited authority granted to it under Section 78 of the OEC when it determined petitioner's intrinsic qualifications, not on the basis of any uncontroverted fact, but on questions of law.

With this conclusion, the Court already has sufficient justification to reverse and set aside the assailed COMELEC Resolutions. Consequently, I believe that it is no longer necessary for us to decide questions pertaining to petitioner's qualifications.

However, given the factual milieu of this case and its significance to the upcoming electoral exercise, I am likewise mindful of the duty of the Court to allay the doubts created by the COMELEC ruling in the minds of the voting public. Furthermore, the dissents have already gone to the intrinsic qualification of petitioner as to cast doubt on her viability as a candidate. These positions must be squarely addressed; hence this extended opinion is inevitable.

Grave Abuse of Discretion

In Mitra v. COMELEC,[83] this Court held that COMELEC's use of wrong or irrelevant considerations in the resolution of an issue constitutes grave abuse of discretion:

As a concept, "grave abuse of discretion" defies exact definition; generally, it refers to "capricious or whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction;" the abuse of discretion must be patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law, or to act at all in contemplation of law, as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary and despotic manner by reason of passion and hostility. Mere abuse of discretion is not enough; it must be grave. We have held, too, that the use of wrong or irrelevant considerations in deciding an issue is sufficient to taint a decision-maker's action with grave abuse of discretion.

Closely related with the limited focus of the present petition is the condition, under Section 5, Rule 64 of the Rules of Court, that findings of fact of the COMELEC, supported by substantial evidence, shall be final and non-reviewable. Substantial evidence is that degree of evidence that a reasonable mind might accept to support a conclusion.

In light of our limited authority to review findings of fact, we do not ordinarily review in a certiorari case the COMELEC's appreciation and evaluation of evidence. Any misstep by the COMELEC in this regard generally involves an error of judgment, not of jurisdiction. (Emphasis supplied)

For reasons discussed below, I find that the COMELEC committed a grossly unreasonable appreciation of both the evidence presented by petitioner to prove her residency, as well the legal standards applicable to her as a foundling. For purposes of clarity, I will discuss residency and citizenship separately.

In Sabili,[84] we noted that the Court does not ordinarily review the COMELEC's appreciation and evaluation of evidence. However, when the appreciation and evaluation of evidence is so grossly unreasonable as to turn into an error of jurisdiction, the Court is duty-bound to intervene. In that case, petitioner was able to show that the COMELEC relied on wrong or irrelevant considerations - like property ownership in another municipality - in deciding the issue of whether petitioner made a material misrepresentation regarding his residence.

IV.
A. ON RESIDENCY

The COMELEC made two findings as far as petitioner's compliance with the 10-year residency requirement is concerned. First, petitioner committed a false material representation regarding her residency in her 2016 CoC for President, as shown by her declaration in her 2013 CoC for senator. Second, petitioner's alien citizenship at the time she allegedly abandoned her domicile in the US was a legal impediment which prevented her from re-establishing her domicile in the Philippines, considering her failure to obtain an authorization from the Bureau of Immigration as permanent resident in the country early enough to start the count of the 10-year residency requirement.

These conclusions reveal the failure of the COMELEC to properly appreciate and evaluate evidence, so much so that it overstepped the limits of its discretion to the point of being grossly unreasonable.

There was no deliberate intent on the
part of petitioner to make a material
misrepresentation as to her residency.

In the assailed Resolutions, the COMELEC had concluded that petitioner committed a false material representation about her residency in her 2016 CoC for president on the basis of her declaration in her 2013 CoC for senator. According to the Commission, this 2012 declaration showed a deliberate intent to mislead the electorate and the public at large.

Public respondent's conclusions are unjustified. In the first place, the COMELEC misapplied the concepts of admissions and honest mistake in weighing the evidence presented by petitioner. As will be discussed below, declarations against interest are not conclusive evidence and must still be evaluated to determine their probative value. Neither does the declaration in her 2013 CoC foreclose the presentation of evidence of petitioner's good faith and honest belief that she has complied with the 10-year residency requirement for presidential candidates.

Admissions against Interest

Admissions against interest are governed by Section 26, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court, which provides:

Sec. 26. Admissions of a party. - The act, declaration or omission of a party as to a relevant fact may be given in evidence against him.

It is well to emphasize that admissions against interest fall under the rules of admissibility.[85] Admissions against interest pass the test of relevance and competence. They, however, do not guarantee their own probative value and conclusiveness. Like all evidence, they must be weighed and calibrated by the court against all other pieces at hand. Also, a party against whom an admission against interest is offered may properly refute such declaration by adducing contrary evidence.[86]

To be admissible, an admission must (1) involve matters of fact, and not of law; (2) be categorical and definite; (3) be knowingly and voluntarily made; and (4) be adverse to the admitter' s interests, otherwise it would be self-serving and inadmissible.[87] An admission against interest must consist of a categorical statement or document pertaining to a matter of fact. If the statement or document pertains to a conclusion of law or necessitates prior settlement of questions of law, it cannot be regarded as an admission against interest.[88]

Even a judicial admission, which does not require proof, for judicial admissions under Section 4, Rule 129 of the Rules of Court[89] But even then, contrary evidence may be admitted to show that the admission was made through palpable mistake. In Bitong v. CA,[90] the Court ruled that although acts or facts admitted in a pleading do not require proof and can no longer be contradicted, evidence aliunde can be presented to show that the admission was made through palpable mistake. Said the Court:

A party whose pleading is admitted as an admission against interest is entitled to overcome by evidence the apparent inconsistency, and it is competent for the party against whom the pleading is offered to show that the statements were inadvertently made or were made under a mistake of fact. In addition, a party against whom a single clause or paragraph of a pleading is offered may have the right to introduce other paragraphs which tend to destroy the admission in the paragraph offered by the adversary.

Every alleged admission is taken as an entirety of the fact which makes for the one side with the qualifications which limit, modify or destroy its effect on the other side. The reason for this is, where part of a statement of a party is used against him as an admission, the court should weigh any other portion connected with the statement, which tends to neutralize or explain the portion which is against interest.

In other words, while the admission is admissible in evidence, its probative value is to be determined from the whole statement and others intimately related or connected therewith as an integrated unit.[91]

COMELEC Conclusions on Admission
against Interest

In the Resolution dated 1 December 2015 of the Second Division in SPA No. 15-001 (Elamparo v. Llamanzares), the COMELEC ruled as follows:

Respondent ran for Senator in the May 13, 2013 Senatorial Elections. In her COC for Senator, she answered "6 years and 6 months" in the space provided for the candidate's period of residence in the Philippines. Based on her own declaration, respondent admitted under oath that she has been a resident of the country only since November 2006.

Undeniably, this falls short by 6 months of the required May 2006 commencement of the residence in the Philippines in order for respondent to qualify as a candidate for President of the Philippines in the May 9, 2016 elections. If we reckon her period of residency from November 2006, as she herself declared, she will be a resident of the Philippines by May 9, 2016 only for a period of 9 years and 6 months.

As correctly pointed out by petitioner, this sworn statement by respondent is an admission against her interest.

Section 26, Rule 130, Rules of Court (which is of suppletory application) expressly states:

Section 26. Admission of a party. - The act, declaration or omission of a party as to a relevant fact may be given in evidence against him.

The rationale for the rule was explained by the Supreme Court in Manila Electric Company v. Heirs of Spouses Dionisio Deloy:

Being an admission against interest, the documents are the best evidence which affords the greatest certainty of the facts in dispute. The rationale for the rule is based on the presumption that no man would declare anything against himself UNLESS SUCH DECLARATION WAS TRUE. Thus, it is fair to presume that the declaration corresponds to the truth, and it is his fault if it does not.

Respondent's representation in her COC for Senator that she had been a resident of the Philippines for a period of 6 years and 6 months by May 2013 is an admission that is binding on her. After all, she should not have declared it under oath if such declaration was not true.

Respondent's convenient defense that she committed an honest mistake on a difficult question of law, when she stated in her COC for Senator that her period of residence in the Philippines before May 13, 2013 was 6 years and 6 months, is at best self-serving. It cannot overturn the weight given to the admission against interest voluntarily made by respondent.

Assuming arguendo that as now belatedly claimed the same was due to an honest mistake, no evidence has been shown that there was an attempt to rectify the so-called honest mistake. The attempt to correct it in her present COC filed only on October 15, 2015 cannot serve to outweigh the probative weight that has to be accorded to the admission against interest in her 2013 COC for Senator.

Certainly, it is beyond question that her declaration in her 2013 COC for Senator, under oath at that, that she has been a resident of the Philippines since November 2006 still stands in the record of this Commission as an official document, which may be given in evidence against her, and the probative weight and binding effect of which is neither obliterated by the passing of time nor by the belated attempt to correct it in her present COC for President of the Philippines. Respondent cannot now declare an earlier period of residence. Respondent is already stopped from doing so. If allowed to repudiate at this late stage her prior sworn declaration, We will be opening the floodgates for candidates to commit material misrepresentations in their COCs and escape responsibility for the same through the mere expedient of conveniently changing their story in a subsequent COC. Worse, We will be allowing a candidate to run for President when the COC for Senator earlier submitted to the Commission contains a material fact or data barring her from running for the position she now seeks to be elected to. Surely, to rule otherwise would be to tolerate a cavalier attitude to the requirement of putting in the correct data in a COC. In fact, the COC filer, in that same COC, certifies under oath that the data given are indeed "true and correct".

As shown by the above-cited Resolution, the COMELEC Second Division regarded the declaration of petitioner in her 2013 certificate of candidacy for senator - that she had been a resident of the Philippines only since November 2006 - as a binding and conclusive statement that she can no longer refute. It appeared to confuse admissions against interest with judicial admissions.

However, in the Resolution dated 23 December 2015 of the En Banc, COMELEC conceded that such statement may indeed be overcome by petitioner through the presentation of competent evidence of greater weight. According to the COMELEC En Banc:

On the allegation that the Second Division chose to rely solely on the declarations of respondent in her 2013 COC: we are not persuaded. Again, the Second Division was not constrained to mention every bit of evidence it considered in arriving at the assailed Resolution. Concededly, however, it did put ample attention on Respondent's 2013 COC, but not without good reason.

To recall, Respondent, in her 2013 COC for Senator, indicated, under oath, that her period of residence in the Philippines from May 13, 2013 is "6 years and 6 months." Following this, she became a resident on November 2006. This is entirely inconsistent with her declaration in the present 2016 COC for president that immediately before the May 9, 2016 elections, she will be a resident of the country for "10 years and 11 months," following which she was a resident since May, 2005. -The Second Division struck respondent's arguments mainly on the basis of this contradiction.

Respondent cannot fault the Second Division for using her statements in the 2013 COC against her. Indeed, the Second Division correctly found that this is an admission against her interest. Being such, it is "the best evidence which affords the greatest certainty of the facts in dispute. The rationale for the rule is based on the presumption that no man would declare anything against himself unless such declaration was true. Thus, it is fair to presume that the declaration corresponds with the truth, and it is his fault if it does not."

Moreover, a COC, being a notarial document, has in its favor the presumption of regularity. To contradict the facts stated therein, there must be evidence that is clear, convincing and more than merely preponderant. In order for a declarant to impugn a notarial document which he himself executed, it is not enough for him to merely execute a subsequent notarial document. After executing an affidavit voluntarily wherein admissions and declarations against the affiant's own interest are made under the solemnity of an oath, the affiant cannot just be allowed to spurn them and undo what he has done.

Yes, the statement in the 2013 COC, albeit an admission against interest, may later be impugned by respondent. However, she cannot do this by the mere expedient of filing her 2016 COC and claiming that the declarations in the previous one were "honest mistakes". The burden is upon her to show, by clear, convincing and more than preponderant evidence, that, indeed, it is the latter COC that is correct and that the statements made in the 2013 COC were done without bad faith. Unfortunately for respondent, she failed to discharge this heavy burden.

As shown by the foregoing, the COMELEC en banc had a proper understanding of an admission against interest - that it is one piece of evidence that should be evaluated against all other pieces presented before it.

The COMELEC was wrong, however, in ruling that petitioner attempted to overcome the alleged admission against interest merely by filing her 2016 CoC for president. Petitioner submitted severed various many and varied pieces of evidence to prove her declaration in her 2016 certificate of candidacy for president that as of May 2005, she had definitely abandoned her residence in the US and intended to reside permanently in the Philippines. They are the following:

1. Petitioner's US passport showing that she returned to the Philippines on 24 May 2005 and from then would always return to the Philippines after every trip to a foreign country.

2. Email exchanges showing that as early as March 2005, petitioner had begun the process of relocating and reestablishing her residence in the Philippines and had all of the family's valuable movable properties packed and stored for shipping to the Philippines.

3. School records of petitioner's school-aged children showing that they began attending Philippine schools starting June 2005.

4. Identification card issued by the BIR to petitioner on 22 July 2005.

5. Condominium Certificate of Title covering a unit with parking slot acquired in the second half of 2005 which petitioner's family used as residence pending the completion of their intended permanent family home.

6. Receipts dated 23 February 2006 showing that petitioner had supervised the packing and disposal of some of the family's household belongings.

7. Confirmation of receipt of the request for change of address sent by the US Postal Service on 28 March 2006;

8. Final settlement of the selling of the family home in the US as of 27 April 2006.

9. Transfer Certificate of Title dated 1 June 2006 showing the acquisition of a vacant lot where the family built their family home.

10. Questionnaire issued by the US Department of State - Bureau of Consular Affairs regarding the possible loss of US citizenship, in which petitioner answered that she had been a resident of the Philippines since May 2005.

11. Affidavits of petitioner's mother and husband attesting to the decision of the family to move to the Philippines in early 2005 shortly after the death of petitioner's father.

Unfortunately, the COMELEC En Banc found that these pieces of evidence failed to overcome the probative weight of the alleged admission against interest. According to the COMELEC, the discrepancy between petitioner's 2013 and 2016 certificates of candidacy only goes to show that she suits her declarations regarding her period of residency in the Philippines when it would be to her advantage. Hence, her deliberate attempt to mislead, misinform, or hide the fact of her ineligibility insofar as residency is concerned.

The statement that she would be a resident of the Philippines for six years and six months as of May 2013 (reckoned from November 2006) in her 2013 certificate of candidacy was admittedly made under oath. However, while notarized documents fall under the category of public documents,[92] they are not deemed prima facie evidence of the facts therein stated.[93] Section 23, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court states:

Sec. 23. Public documents as evidence. - Documents consisting of entries in public records made in the performance of a duty by a public officer are prima facie evidence of the facts therein stated. All other public documents are evidence, even against a third person, of the fact which gave rise to their execution and of the date of the latter.

Clearly, notarized documents are merely proof of the fact which gave rise to their execution and of the date stated therein.[94] They require no further proof to be admissible, because the certificate of acknowledgement serves as the prima facie evidence of its execution.[95]

Thus while petitioner's 2013 certificate of candidacy may be presented as proof of its regularity and due execution, it is not prima facie evidence of the facts stated therein, i.e. the declaration that she essentially became a resident of the Philippines only in November 2006. Furthermore, while a notarized document carries the evidentiary weight conferred upon it with respect to its due execution and regularity, even such presumption is not absolute as it may be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence to the contrary.[96]

Thus, where the document or its contents are in question, the person who executed the same may submit contrary evidence to establish the truth of the matter. In this case, petitioner submitted the above-cited pieces of evidence to prove that her 2016 certificate of candidacy declared the truth about her residence in the Philippines, and that her declaration in her 2013 certificate of candidacy was the result of an honest mistake.

Honest Mistake

The COMELEC gave scant consideration to petitioner's assertion that she made an honest mistake in her 2013 certificate of candidacy for senator. The Commission hypothesized that if petitioner truly believed that the period of residency would be counted backwards from the day of filing the CoC for Senator in October 2012, she should always reckon her residency from April 2006. The COMELEC observed that the period of residency indicated in the 2015 CoC for President was reckoned from May 2005. The COMELEC took the alleged unexplained inconsistency as a badge of intent to deceive the electorate.

To a malicious mind, the assertions of petitioner are nothing but sinister. Considering the contradicting and inconsistent dates alleged before the COMELEC, an indiscriminate observer may be tempted to think the worst and disbelieve a claim to the common experience of human mistake.

United States v. Ah Chong,[97] has taught generations of lawyers that the question as to whether one honestly, in good faith, and without fault or negligence fell into the mistake, is to be determined by the circumstances as they appeared to him at the time when the mistake was made, and the effect which the surrounding circumstances might reasonably be expected to have on his mind, in forming the intent upon which he acted.

In the petitions before us, petitioner explained her mistake in the following manner:

5.268. [Petitioner] committed an honest mistake when she stated in her COC for Senator that her "PERIOD OF RESIDENCE BEFORE MAY 13, 2013" is "6" years and "6" months.

5.268.1. Only a two-year period of residence in the Philippines is required to qualify as a member of the Senate of the Republic of the Philippines. [Petitioner] sincerely had no doubt that she had satisfied this residence requirement. She even accomplished her COC for Senator without the assistance of a lawyer. x x x

5.268.2. It is no wonder that [petitioner] did not know that the use of the phrase "Period of Residence in the Philippines before May 13, 2013" in her COC for Senator, actually referred to the period immediately preceding 13 May 2013, or to her period of residence on the day right before the 13 May 2013 elections. [Petitioner] therefore interpreted this phrase to mean her period of residence in the Philippines as of the submission of COCs in October 2012 (which is technically also a period "before May 13, 2013").

5.268.3. In terms of abandoning her domicile in the U.S.A. and permanently relocating to the Philippines, nothing significant happened in "November 2006." Moreover, private respondent was not able to present any evidence which would show that [petitioner] returned to the Philippines with the intention to reside here permanently only in November 2006. Thus, there would have been no logical reason for [petitioner] to reckon the start of her residence in the Philippines from this month. Even the COMELEC considered a date other than November 2006 as the reckoning point of [petitioner's] residence (i.e., August 2006). This date is, of course, not the day [petitioner] established her domicile in the Philippines. Nonetheless, that even the COMELEC had another date in mind bolsters the fact that [petitioner]'s representation in her COC for Senator regarding her period of residence was based on her honest misunderstanding of what was asked of her in Item No. 7 of her COC for Senator, and that she indeed counted backward from October 2012 (instead of from 13 May 2013).

x x x x

When [petitioner] accomplished her COC for Senator, she reckoned her residence in the Philippines from March-April 2006, which is when (to her recollection at the time she signed this COC) she and her family had substantially wound up their affairs in the U.S.A. in connection with their relocation to the Philippines. Specifically, March 2006 was when [petitioner] arrived in the Philippines after her last lengthy stay in the U.S.A., and April 2006 was when she and her husband were finally able to sell their house in the U.S.A. The month of April 2006 is also when [petitioner's] husband had resigned from his job in the U.S.A. The period between March-April 2006 to September 2012 is around six (6) years and six (6) months. Therefore, this is the period [petitioner] indicated (albeit, mistakenly) in her COC for Senator as her "Period of Residence in the Philippines before May 13, 2013."

5.268.7. This erroneous understanding of the commencement of her residence in the Philippines, together with the confusing question in Item No. 7 of her COC for Senator, explains why [petitioner] mistakenly indicated in that COC that her "Period of Residence in the Philippines before May 13, 2013" would be "6" years and "6" months.

5.268.8. [Petitioner] was later advised (only last year, 2015) by legal counsel that the concept of "residence," for purposes of election law, takes into account the period when she was physically present in the Philippines starting from 24 May 2005, (after having already abandoned her residence in the U.S.A., coupled with the intent to reside in the Philippines) and not just the period after her U.S.A. residence was sold and when her family was already complete in the country, after her husband's return. [Petitioner]'s period of residence in her COC for Senator should, therefore, have been counted.from 24 May 2005, and extended all the way "up to the day before" the 13 May 2013 elections. [Petitioner] realized only last year, 2015, that she should have stated "7" years and "11" months (instead of "6" years and "6" months) as her period of residence in her COC for Senator.[98] (Emphases supplied)

To an open mind, the foregoing explanation proffered by petitioner does not appear to be concocted, implausible, or the product of mere afterthought. The circumstances as they appeared to her at the time she accomplished her 2013 certificate of candidacy for senator, without the assistance of counsel, may indeed reasonably cause her to fill up the residency item with the answer "6 years and 6 months." It does not necessarily mean, however, that she had not been residing in the Philippines on a permanent basis for a period longer than that.

The fact that it was the first time that petitioner ran for public office; that only a two-year period of residence in the country is required for those running as senator; and that the item in the certificate of candidacy providing "Period of Residence in the Philippines before May 13, 2013" could be open to an interpretation different from that required, should have been taken into consideration in appreciating whether petitioner made the subject entry honestly, in good faith, and without fault or negligence.

The surrounding circumstances in this case do not exclude the possibility that petitioner made an honest mistake, both in reckoning her period of residence in the Philippines as well as determining the proper end period of such residence at the time. That petitioner is running for the highest public office in the country should not be the only standard by which we weigh her actions and ultimately her mistakes. Not all mistakes are made with evil motives, in much the same way that not all good deeds are done with pure intentions. Good faith is always presumed, and in the face of tangible evidence presented to prove the truth of the matter, which is independent of the circumstances that caused petitioner to make that fateful statement of "6 years and 6 months," it would be difficult to dismiss her contention that such is the result of an honest mistake.

To reiterate, the COMELEC incorrectly applied the rule on admissions in order to conclude that petitioner deliberately misrepresented her qualifications-notwithstanding a reasonable explanation as to her honest mistake, and despite the numerous pieces of evidence submitted to prove her claims.

If petitioner honestly believed that she can reckon her residency in the Philippines from May 2005 because she had already relocated to the country with the intent to reside here permanently, then her statement in her 2016 certificate of candidacy for president cannot be deemed to have been made with intent to deceive the voting public. The COMELEC has clearly failed to prove the element of deliberate intent to deceive, which is necessary to cancel certificates of candidacy under Section 78.

In any case, the single declaration of petitioner in her 2013 certificate of candidacy for senator cannot be deemed to overthrow the entirety of evidence showing that her residence in the Philippines commenced in May 2005.

Petitioner was able to prove the fact of
the reestablishment of her domicile in
the Philippines since May 2005.

Section 2, Article VII of the Constitution requires that a candidate for president be "a resident of the Philippines for at least ten years immediately preceding such election." The term residence, as it is used in the 1987 Constitution and previous Constitutions, has been understood to be synonymous with domicile.[99] Domicile means not only the intention to reside in one place, but also personal presence therein coupled with conduct indicative of such intention.[100] It is the permanent home and the place to which one intends to return whenever absent for business or pleasure as shown by facts and circumstances that disclose such intent.[101]

Domicile is classified into three: (1) domicile of origin, which is acquired at birth by every person; and (2) domicile of choice, which is acquired upon abandonment of the domicile of origin; and (3) domicile by operation of law, which the law attributes to a person independently of his residence of intention.[102]

Domicile by operation of law applies to infants, incompetents, and other persons under disabilities that prevent them from acquiring a domicile of choice.[103] It also accrues by virtue of marriage when the husband and wife fix the family domicile.[104]

A person's domicile of origin is the domicile of his parents.[105] It is not easily lost and continues even if one has lived and maintained residences in different places.[106] Absence from the domicile to pursue a profession or business, to study or to do other things of a temporary or semi-permanent nature, and even travels abroad,[107] does not constitute loss of residence.[108]

In contrast, immigration to a foreign country with the intention to live there permanently constitutes an abandonment of domicile in the Philippines.[109] In order to qualify to run for public office in the Philippines, an immigrant to a foreign country must waive such status as manifested by some act or acts independent of and done prior to the filing of the certificate of candidacy.[110]

A person can have but one domicile at a time.[111] Once established, the domicile remains until a new one is acquired.[112] In order to acquire a domicile by choice, there must concur: (a) physical presence in the new place, (b) an intention to remain there (animus manendi), and (c) an intention to abandon the former domicile (animus non revertendi).[113]

Without clear and positive proof of the concurrence of these requirements, the domicile of origin continues.[114] In Gallego v. Verra,[115] we emphasized what must be shown by the person alleging a change of domicile:

The purpose to remain in or at the domicile of choice must be for an indefinite period of time. The acts of the person must conform with his purpose. The change of residence must be voluntary; the residence at the place chosen for the domicile must be actual; and to the fact of residence there must be added the animus manendi.[116]

The question of whether COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion in its conclusion that petitioner failed to meet the durational residency requirement of 10 years goes into the COMELEC's appreciation of evidence. In Sabili v. COMELEC,[117] we held that:

As a general rule, the Court does not ordinarily review the COMELEC's appreciation and evaluation of evidence. However, exceptions thereto have been established, including when the COMELEC's appreciation and evaluation of evidence become so grossly unreasonable as to turn into an error of jurisdiction. In these instances, the Court is compelled by its bounden constitutional duty to intervene and correct the COMELEC's error.[118]

Sabili was an instance of grossly unreasonable appreciation in evaluation of evidence, very much like the lopsided evaluation of evidence of the COMELEC in the present case.

Further, in Mitra v. COMELEC,[119] we held that COMELEC's use of wrong or irrelevant considerations in the resolution of an issue constitutes grave abuse of discretion:

As a concept, "grave abuse of discretion" defies exact definition; generally, it refers to "capricious or whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction;" the abuse of discretion must be patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law, or to act at all in contemplation of law, as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary and despotic manner by reason of passion and hostility. Mere abuse of discretion is not enough; it must be grave. We have held, too, that the use of wrong or irrelevant considerations in deciding an issue is sufficient to taint a decision-maker's action with grave abuse of discretion.

Closely related with the limited focus of the present petition is the condition, under Section 5, Rule 64 of the Rules of Court, that findings of fact of the COMELEC, supported by substantial evidence, shall be final and non-reviewable. Substantial evidence is that degree of evidence that a reasonable mind might accept to support a conclusion.

In light of our limited authority to review findings of fact, we do not ordinarily review in a certiorari case the COMELEC's appreciation and evaluation of evidence. Any misstep by the COMELEC in this regard generally involves an error of judgment, not of jurisdiction. (Emphasis supplied)

However, before going into a discussion of the evidence submitted by petitioner, a threshold issue must first be resolved: whether petitioner's status as a visa-free balikbayan affected her ability to establish her residence in the country. I believe that it did not.

The Philippines' Balikbayan Program

On 31 July 1973, President Marcos issued Letter of Instructions No. (LOI) 105[120] designating the period from 1 September 1973 to 28 February 1974 as a "Homecoming Season" for Filipinos - and/or their families and descendants - who are now residents or citizens of other countries (referred to as overseas Filipinos). Due to its overwhelming success,[121] the Balikbayan Program was extended. This was further enhanced in 197 4 under LOI 163.[122]

In 1975, professionals and scientists were targeted in the program by encouraging their return under LOI 210, and then by PD 819. Overseas Filipino scientists and technicians were being encouraged to come home and apply their knowledge to the development programs of the country, and to take advantage of the Balikbayan Program. It was also decreed that any overseas Filipino arriving in the Philippines under the Balikbayan Program shall be authorized to remain in the country for a period of one year from the date of arrival within the extended period.

Pursuant to the stated purpose of LOI 210, P.D. 819[123] was issued on 24 October 1975 in recognition of the "need of attracting foreign-based scientists, professionals, or persons with special skill or expertise who are of Filipino descent or origin."[124] It was decreed that these persons, who are licensed to practice their profession, special skill or expertise in their host, adopted or native countries, may practice their profession, special skill or expertise while staying in the Philippines either on a temporary or permanent basis, together with their families upon approval by the Secretary of Health. They are only required to register with the Professional Regulation Commission, regardless of whether or not their special skill or expertise falls within any of the regulated professions and vocations in the Philippines, and pay the required license fee. They are entitled to all incentives, benefits and privileges granted to or being enjoyed by overseas Filipinos (balikbayans).

As a means of attracting more "returnees,"[125] LOI 1044 provided for additional incentives such as attendance in international scientific conferences, seminars, meetings along the field of expertise with the travel of the returnees funded by the program at least once per year. Also, they shall have priority to obtain housing loans from GSIS, SSS and Development Bank of the Philippines to assure their continued stay in the country.

By virtue of LOI 272-A[126], the Balikbayan Program was extended to another period beginning 1 March 1976 to 28 February 1977 featuring the same incentives and benefits provided by LOI 210. It was again extended to 28 February 1978,[127] to 28 February 1979,[128] to 29 February 1980,[129] and to 28 February 1981.[130]

On 28 February 1981, President Marcos issued Executive Order No. (EO) 657 extending the Balikbayan Program for overseas Filipinos for a period of five years beginning 1 March 1981 to 28 February 1986.

Executive Order No. (E.O.) 130[131] issued on 25 October 1993 by President Ramos institutionalized the Balik Scientist Program under the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) but with different features. It defined a Balik Scientist as a science or technology expert who is a Filipino citizen or a foreigner of Filipino descent, residing abroad and contracted by the national government to return and work in the Philippines along his/her field of expertise for a short term with a duration of at least one month (Short-Term Program) or long term with a duration of at least two years (Long-Term Program).

A Balik Scientist under the Short-Term Program may be entitled to free round-trip economy airfare originating from a foreign country to the Philippines by direct route, and grants-in-aid for research and development projects approved by the Secretary of Science and Technology.

A Balik Scientist under the Long-Term Program and returning new graduates from DOST-recognized science and technology foreign institutions may be entitled to the following incentives:

1. Free one-way economy airfare from a foreign country to the Philippines, including airfare for the spouse and two minor dependents; and free return trip economy airfare after completion of two years in the case of Balik Scientists, and three years in the case of new graduates;

2. Duty-free importation of professional instruments and implements, tools of trade, occupation or employment, wearing apparel, domestic animals, and personal and household effects in quantities and of the class suitable to the profession, rank or position of the persons importing them, for their own use and not for barter or sale, in accordance with Section 105 of the Tariff and Customs Code;

3. No-dollar importation of motor vehicles;

4. Exemption from payment of travel tax for Filipino permanent residents abroad;

5. Reimbursement of freight expenses for the shipment of a car and personal effects;

6. Reimbursement of the freight expenses for 2-1/2 tons volume weight for surface shipment of a car and personal effects, as well as excess baggage not exceeding 20 kilograms per adult and 10 kilograms per minor dependent when travelling by air;

7. Housing, which may be arranged through predetermined institutions;

8. Assistance in securing a certificate of registration without examination or an exemption from the licensure requirement of the Professional Regulation Commission to practice profession, expertise or skill in the Philippines;

9. Grants-in-aid for research and development projects approved by the Secretary of Science and Technology; and

10.Grant of special non-immigrant visas[132] under Section 47 (a) (2) of the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940, as amended, after compliance with the requirements therefor.

R.A. 6768,[133] enacted on 3 November 1989, instituted a Balikbayan Program under the administration of the Department of Tourism to attract and encourage overseas Filipinos to come and visit their motherland. Under R.A. 6768, the term balikbayan covers Filipino citizens who have been continuously out of the Philippines for a period of at least one year; Filipino overseas workers; and former Filipino citizens and their family who had been naturalized in a foreign country and comes or returns to the Philippines.

The law provided various privileges to the balikbayan:

1. Tax-free maximum purchase in the amount of US$1,000 or its equivalent in other acceptable foreign currencies at Philippine duty-free shops;

2. Access to a special promotional/incentive program provided by the national flag air carrier;

3. Visa-free entry to the Philippines for a period of one year for foreign passport holders, with the exception of restricted nationals;

4. Travel tax exemption;[134] and

5. Access to especially designated reception areas at the authorized ports of entry for the expeditious processing of documents.

It is emphasized in the law that the privileges granted thereunder shall be in addition to the benefits enjoyed by the balikbayan under existing laws, rules and regulations.

R.A. 9174[135] dated 7 November 2002 amended R.A. 6768 by extending further the privileges of a balikbayan to include:

1. Kabuhayan shopping privilege through an additional tax-exempt purchase in the maximum amount of US$2,000 or its equivalent in Philippine peso and other acceptable foreign currencies, exclusively for the purchase of livelihood tools at all government-owned and - controlled/operated duty-free shops;

2. Access to necessary entrepreneurial training and livelihood skills programs and marketing assistance, including the balikbayan's immediate family members, under the government's reintegration program; and

3. Access to accredited transportation facilities that will ensure their safe and convenient trips upon arrival.

It was again emphasized that the privileges granted shall be in addition to the benefits enjoyed by the balikbayan under existing laws, rules and regulations.

Balikbayans are not Mere Visitors

As shown by the foregoing discussion, the Balikbayan Program, as conceptualized from the very beginning, envisioned a system not just of welcoming overseas Filipinos (Filipinos and/or their families and descendants who have become permanent residents or naturalized citizens of other countries) as short-term visitors of the country, but more importantly, one that will encourage them to come home and once again become permanent residents of the Philippines.

Notably, the program has no regard at all for the citizenship of these overseas Filipinos. To qualify for the benefits, particularly the exemptions from the payment of customs duties and taxes on personal effects brought home and tax exemptions for local purchases, all they have to do is prove their desire to become permanent residents of the Philippines. This is done through the simple expedient of the presentation of the official approval of change of residence by the authorities concerned in their respective foreign host countries.

As originally intended in the case of the balik scientists, they are also welcome to practice their profession, special skill or expertise while staying in the Philippines either on temporary or permanent bases. Again, there was no regard for their citizenship considering that the program is open to both foreign-based Filipinos and those of Filipino origin or descent, as long as they were licensed to practice their profession, special skill or expertise in their host, adopted or native countries.

Therefore, as far as our immigration laws are concerned with regard to balikbayans, they and their families may reside in the Philippines either on temporary or permanent bases even though they remain nationals of their host, adopted or native countries. The special treatment accorded to balikbayans finds its roots in recognition of their status as former Filipinos and not as mere aliens.

Further militating against the notion of balikbayans as mere visitors of the country are the privileges accorded to them under R.A. 9174, the current balikbayan law. It specifically provides for a Kabuhayan shopping privilege for the purchase of livelihood tools as well as access to the necessary entrepreneurial training and livelihood skills programs and marketing assistance in accordance with the existing rules on the government's reintegration program.

Livelihood tools have been defined as "instruments used by hand or by machine necessary to a person in the practice of his or her trade, vocation or profession, such as hand tools, power tools, precision tools, farm tools, tools for dressmaking, shoe repair, beauty parlor, barber shop and the like,"[136] as well as a computer unit and its accessories.

Access to the reintegration program is one of the social services and family welfare assistance benefits (aside from insurance and health care benefits, loan guarantee fund, education and training benefits and workers assistance and on-site services) that are available, to Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) members.[137] It incorporates community organizing, capability-building, livelihood loans and other social preparations subject to the policies formulated by the OWWA Board.[138]

The reintegration program aims to prepare the OFW in his/her return to Philippine society.[139] It has two aspects. The first is reintegration preparedness (On-Site) which includes interventions on value formation, financial literacy, entrepreneurial development training (EDT), technological skills and capacity building.[140] The second is reintegration proper (In-Country) which consists of job referrals for local and overseas employment, business counselling, community organizing, financial literacy seminar, networking with support institutions and social preparation programs.[141]

As the Philippine government's reintegration manager,[142] the Department of Labor and Employment National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO) provides the following services:

1. Develop and support programs and projects for livelihood, entrepreneurship, savings, investments and financial literacy for returning Filipino migrant workers and their families in coordination with relevant stakeholders, service providers and international organizations;

2. Coordinate with appropriate stakeholders, service providers and relevant international organizations for the promotion, development and the full utilization of overseas Filipino worker returnees and their potentials;

3. Institute, in cooperation with other government agencies concerned, a computer-based information system on returning Filipino migrant workers which shall be accessible to all local recruitment agencies and employers, both public and private;

4. Provide a periodic study and assessment of job opportunities for returning Filipino migrant workers;

5. Develop and implement other appropriate programs to promote the welfare of returning Filipino migrant workers;

6. Maintain an internet-based communication system for on-line registration and interaction with clients, and maintain and upgrade computer-based service capabilities of the NRCO;

7. Develop capacity-building programs for returning overseas Filipino workers and their families, implementers, service providers, and stakeholders; and

8. Conduct research for policy recommendations and program development.[143]

While the reintegration program covers only OFWs,[144] non-OFW balikbayans can also avail of possible livelihood training in coordination with the Department of Tourism, the Technology and Livelihood Resource Center and other training institutions.[145]

R.A. 9174 is the government's latest thrust in its consistent efforts in attracting balikbayans to come home to the Philippines and build a new life here. Notwithstanding our immigration laws, balikbayans may continue to stay in the Philippines for the long-term even under a visafree entry, which is extendible upon request.[146]

It must be emphasized that none of the Court's previous decisions has ever looked at the very extensive privileges granted to Balikbayan entrants.

Coquilla, Japzon, Caballero, Jalosjos and the Balikbayan Program

In ruling that petitioner can only be said to have validly re-established her residency in the Philippines when she reacquired her Philippine citizenship, the COMELEC invoked the ruling in Coquilla v. COMELEC.[147]

In Coquilla, petitioner was a former natural-born citizen and who reacquired Philippine citizenship on November 10, 2000. He was not able to show by any evidence that he had been a one-year resident of Oras, Eastern Samar prior to the May 14, 2001 local elections. His argument was that he had been a resident of the said town for two years, but was not able to show actual residence one year from before the said election. Evidence shows on the contrary that his last trip to the United States, of which he was a former citizen was from July 6 to August 5, 2000. The only evidence he was able to show was a residence certificate and his bare assertion to his townmates that he intended to have himself repatriated. He did not make much of a claim, except to advert to the fulfillment of the required residence by cumulating his visits and actual residence. We Court said:

Second, it is not true, as petitioner contends, that he reestablished residence in this country in 1998 when he came back to prepare for the mayoralty elections of Oras by securing a Community Tax Certificate in that year and by constantly declaring to his townmates of his intention to seek repatriation and run for mayor in the May 14, 2001 elections. The status of being an alien and a non-resident can be waived either separately, when one acquires the status of a resident alien before acquiring Philippine citizenship, or at the same time when one acquires Philippine citizenship. As an alien, an individual may obtain an immigrant visa under 13 of the Philippine Immigration Act of 1948 and an Immigrant Certificate of Residence (ICR) and thus waive his status as a nonresident. On the other hand, he may acquire Philippine citizenship by naturalization under C.A. No. 473, as amended, or, if he is a former Philippine national, he may reacquire Philippine citizenship by repatriation or by an act of Congress, in which case he waives not only his status as an alien but also his status as a non-resident alien.

In the case at bar, the only evidence of petitioners status when he entered the country on October 15, 1998, December 20, 1998, October 16, 1999, and June 23, 2000 is the statement Philippine Immigration Balikbayan in his 1998-2008 U.S. passport. As for his entry on August 5, 2000, the stamp bore the added inscription good for one year stay. Under 2 of R.A. No. 6768 (An Act Instituting a Balikbayan Program), the term balikbayan includes a former Filipino citizen who had been naturalized in a foreign country and comes or returns to the Philippines and, if so, he is entitled, among others, to a visa-free entry to the Philippines for a period of one (1) year (3(c)). It would appear then that when petitioner entered the country on the dates in question, he did so as a visa-free balikbayan visitor whose stay as such was valid for one year only. Hence, petitioner can only be held to have waived his status as an alien and as a non-resident only on November 10, 2000 upon taking his oath as a citizen of the Philippines under R.A. No. 8171. He lacked the requisite residency to qualify him for the mayorship of Oras, Eastern, Samar.

Note that the record is bare of any assertion, unlike in the case before Us, that Coquilla had bought a residence, relocated all his effects, established all the necessities of daily living to operationalize the concept of actual residence to show residence for the minimum period of one year. Even if in fact the period of reckoning for Coquilla were to start from his entry into the country on 5 August 2000, it would still be only nine months; thus there was not even any necessity to discuss the effect of his having been classified as a Balikbayan when he entered the country in 1998, 1999 and 2000.

The COMELEC tries to assert that its interpretation of the ruling in Coquilla was carried over in Japzon v. COMELEC[148] and Caballero v. COMELEC[149] as to bar petitioner's claims on residency. The COMELEC is dead wrong.

In Japzon, private respondent Ty was a natural-born Filipino who left to work in the US and eventually became an American citizen. On 2 October 2005, Ty reacquired his Filipino citizenship by taking his Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines in accordance with the provisions of Republic Act No. (R.A.) 9225.[150] Immediately after reacquiring his Philippine citizenship, he performed acts (i.e. applied for a Philippine passport, paid community tax and secured Community Tax Certificates (CTC) and registered as a voter) wherein he declared that his residence was at General Macarthur, Eastern Samar. On 19 March 2007, Ty renounced his American citizenship before a notary public. Prior to this, however, Ty had been bodily present in General Macarthur, Eastern Samar for a more than a year before the May 2007 elections. As such, the Court brushed aside the contention that Ty was ineligible to run for mayor on the ground that he did not meet the one-year residency requirement. If anything, Japzon reinforces petitioner's position.

In Caballero, petitioner was a natural-born Filipino who was naturalized as a Canadian citizen. On 13 September 2012, petitioner took his Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines in accordance with the provisions of Republic Act No. 9225. On 1 October 2012, he renounced his Canadian citizenship. He filed his certificate of candidacy for mayor of Uyugan, Batanes on 3 October 2012.

We ruled that it was incumbent upon petitioner to prove that he made Uyugan, Batanes his domicile of choice upon reacquisition of his Philippine citizenship. Aside from his failure to discharge this burden, the period reckoned from 13 September 2012 to the May 2013 elections is only nine months - clearly short of the required one-year residency requirement for mayoralty candidates. Caballero is thus clearly not applicable. Indeed, it is to be noted that it is only Justice Brion in his Separate Concurring Opinion who opines that a permanent resident visa is required for reestablishment of domicile to take place, a view not shared by the majority.

Justice Brion needed to state in his Separate Concurring Opinion that a permanent residency visa is necessary for the start of residency for election purposes is precisely because such view is not found in the Ponencia, hence, contraries to be legally inapplicable.

There are categorical rulings in U.S. state courts that are squarely as all fours with the petition before us. In Elkins v. Moreno,[151] aliens with a non-immigrant visa were considered as having the legal capacity to change their domiciles. In reaching this conclusion, the US Supreme Court took into account the intention of Congress when it enacted the terms and restrictions for specific classes of non-immigrants entering the United States:

Although nonimmigrant aliens can generally be viewed as temporary visitors to the United States, the nonimmigrant classification is by no means homogeneous with respect to the terms on which a nonimmigrant enters the United States. For example, Congress expressly conditioned admission for some purposes on an intent not to abandon a foreign residence or, by implication, on an intent not to seek domicile in the United States. Thus, the 1952 Act defines a visitor to the United States as "an alien . . . having a residence in a foreign country which he has no intention of abandoning" and who is coming to the United States for business or pleasure. Similarly, a nonimmigrant student is defined as "an alien having a residence in a foreign country which he has no intention of abandoning. . . and who seeks to enter the United States temporarily and solely for the purpose of pursuing. . . a course of study. . . ." See also (aliens in "immediate and continuous transit"); (vessel crewman "who intends to land temporarily"); (temporary worker having residence in foreign country "which he has no intention of abandoning").

By including restrictions on intent in the definition of some nonimmigrant classes, Congress must have meant aliens to be barred from these classes if their real purpose in coming to the United States was to immigrate permanently. x x x.

But Congress did not restrict every nonimmigrant class. In particular, no restrictions on a nonimmigrant's intent were placed on aliens admitted under § 101(a)(15)(G)(iv). Since the 1952 Act was intended to be a comprehensive and complete code, the conclusion is therefore inescapable that, where as with the G-4 class Congress did not impose restrictions on intent, this was deliberate. Congress' silence is therefore pregnant, and we read it to mean that Congress, while anticipating that permanent immigration would normally occur through immigrant channels, was willing to allow nonrestricted nonimmigrant aliens to adopt the United States as their domicile.

Under present law, therefore, were a G-4 alien to develop a subjective intent to stay indefinitely in the United States he would be able to do so without violating either the 1952 Act, the Service's regulations, or the terms of his visa. Of course, should a G-4 alien terminate his employment with an international treaty organization, both he and his family would lose their G-4 status. Nonetheless, such an alien would not necessarily be subject to deportation nor would he have to leave and re-enter the country in order to become an immigrant.[152] (Citations omitted) (Emphasis supplied)

In Toll v. Moreno,[153] the Supreme Court of Maryland applied the ruling in Elkins and held that the ordinary legal standard for the establishment of domicile may be used even for non-immigrants:

If under federal law a particular individual must leave this country at a certain date, or cannot remain here indefinitely, then he could not become domiciled in Maryland. Any purported intent to live here indefinitely would be inconsistent with law. It would at most be an unrealistic subjective intent, which is insufficient under Maryland law to establish domicile.

x x x x

In light of the Supreme Court's interpretation of federal law, it is obvious that nothing inherent in the nature of a G-4 visa would render the holder of such visa absolutely incapable of establishing a Maryland domicile. Assuming the correctness of the defendant's assertion that most G-4 visa holders will leave this country, if in a particular case one of these individuals is in a minority and, as shown by objective factors, intends for Maryland to be his fixed place of abode and intends to remain here indefinitely, he will have satisfied the Maryland standard for establishing domicile in this State.

The fact that an alien holds a non-immigrant visa is thus not controlling. What is crucial in determining whether an alien may lawfully adopt a domicile in the country is the restriction placed by Congress on a specific type of non-immigrant visa. So long as the intended stay of a nonimmigrant does not violate any of the legal restriction, sufficient animus manendi may be appreciated and domicile may be established.

In the case of balikbayans, the true intent of Congress to treat these overseas Filipinos not as mere visitors but as prospective permanent residents is evident from the letter of the law. While they are authorized to remain in the country for a period of only one year from their date of arrival, the laws, rules and regulations under the Balikbayan Program do not foreclose their options should they decide to actually settle down in the country. In fact, the Balikbayan Program envisions a situation where former Filipinos would have been legally staying in the Philippines visa-free for more than 36 months.[154] In the case of petitioner Poe, she entered the Philippines visa-free under the Balikbayan program, left for a short while and legally re-entered under the same program. This is not a case where she abused any Balikbayan privilege because shortly after reentering the country on 11 March 2006,[155] she applied for dual citizenship under R.A. 9225.

Based on the foregoing, it was most unfair for COMELEC to declare that petitioner could not have acquired domicile in the Philippines in 2005 merely because of her status as a balikbayan. Her visa (or lack thereof) should not be the sole determinant of her intention to reacquire her domicile in the Philippines.

Congress itself welcomes the return of overseas Filipinos without requiring any type of visa. Although visa-free entry is for a limited time, the period is extendible and is not conditioned upon the acquisition of a permanent resident visa. Considering that the law allows a balikbayan to stay in the Philippines for a certain period even without a visa and to settle in .the country during that period, there is no reason to reject petitioner's intent to re-establish a residence from the date she entered the country. In fact, petitioner's permanent resettlement, as one millions of Filipino who had gone abroad, is an end-goal of the Balikbayan Program.

If we were to apply the standard for determining the effect of a visa on the ability of petitioner to re-establish her domicile in the Philippines, the U.S. cases of Elkins v. Moreno and Toll v. Moreno, beg the question: Does her entry as a Balikbayan restrict her from re-establishing her domicile in the Philippines? The answer would be a resounding NO, for precisely the legislative policy of the Balikbayan Program is to assist in the reintegration of former Filipino citizen back into the country. The Court must also note that the visa-free entry is good for one year and renewable, even to the extent of authorizing the Balikbayan to stay much longer. The Balikbayan program is fully compatible and supportive of the re-establishment by a Balikbayan of her residence in her native land, her domicile of origin.

And this is not a case when petitioner abused the privileges of visa-free entry considering that, a year after her relocation, she immediately took steps to reacquire her Philippine citizenship

Petitioner was able to prove that she
reacquired her domicile in the Philippines
beginning May 2005.

As discussed, there are only three requisites for a person to acquire a new domicile by choice: (1) residence or bodily presence in the new domicile; (2) an intention to remain there; and (3) an intention to abandon the old domicile.[156] In my view, the pieces of evidence submitted by petitioner sufficiently prove that she re-established her domicile in the Philippines as early as May 2005.

I shall discuss the fulfillment of the requirements in the following order: (1) intention to remain in the new domicile; (2) intention to abandon the old domicile; and (3) bodily residence in the new domicile.

Intent to Establish a New Domicile

To prove her intent to establish a new domicile in the Philippines on 24 May 2005, petitioner presented the following evidence: (1) school records indicating that her children attended Philippine schools starting June 2005;[157] (2) Taxpayer's Identification Number (TIN) Card,[158] showing that she registered with and secured the TIN from the BIR on 22 July 2005; (3) Condominium Certificates of Title (CCTs)[159] and Tax Declarations covering Unit 7F and a parking slot at One Wilson Place Condominium, 194 Wilson Street, San Juan, Metro Manila, purchased in early 2005 and served as the family's temporary residence; (4) Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT)[160] in the name of petitioner and her husband issued on 1 June 2006, covering a residential lot in Corinthian Hills, Quezon City in 2006; and (5) registration as a voter on 31 August 2006.

Enrollment of Children in Local Schools

Whether children are enrolled in local schools is a factor considered by courts when it comes to establishing a new domicile. In Fernandez v. HRET,[161] we used this indicium:

In the case at bar, there are real and substantial reasons for petitioner to establish Sta. Rosa as his domicile of choice and abandon his domicile of origin and/or any other previous domicile. To begin with, petitioner and his wife have owned and operated businesses in Sta. Rosa since 2003. Their children have attended schools in Sta. Rosa at least since 2005. x x x (Emphasis supplied)

In Blount v. Boston,[162] the Supreme Court of Maryland identified location of the school attended by a person's children as one of the factors in determining a change of domicile. The discourse is reproduced here:

Where actual residence and/or place of voting are not so clear or there are special circumstances explaining particular place of abode or place of voting, court will look to myriad of other factors in deciding person's domicile, such as paying of taxes and statements on tax returns, ownership of property, where person's children attend school, address at which person receives mail, statements as to residency in contracts, statements on licenses or governmental documents, where personal belongings are kept, which jurisdiction's banks are utilized, and any other facts revealing contact with one or the other jurisdiction.[163] (Emphasis supplied)

The fact that petitioner's children began their schooling in the Philippines shortly after their arrival in the country in May 2005 is no longer in dispute. In its Comment, the COMELEC noted this as one of the facts "duly proven" by petitioner.[164] By "duly proven," the COMELEC explained during the oral arguments that the term meant that documentary proof substantiated the pertinent allegation:

CHIEF JUSTICE SERENO:
All right. Let me turn your attention to page 56 of the COMELEC Comment. It says, "the COMELEC noted the following facts as duly proven by the petitioner. Petitioner's children arrived in the Philippines during the latter half of 2005. Shortly after their arrival, petitioner's children began their schooling in the country. Petitioner purchased a condominium unit in San Juan City during the second half of 2005. Petitioner and husband started the construction of their house in 2006. Petitioner and her husband informed the U.S. Postal Service in 2006 of their abandonment of their U.S. Address." What does the commission mean when it says that these facts are duly proven?

COMMISSIONER LIM:
Your Honor please, the proceeding before the commission was summary. There was a preliminary conference, submission of exhibits, stipulations, comparison between the originals and the photocopies, and offer of evidence. We considered these facts as non-controverted in the sense that they are covered by documentary proof, Your Honor. (Emphasis supplied)

Acquisition of a New Residence

The COMELEC, in its Comment, found the following facts to be duly proven: that petitioner purchased a condominium unit in San Juan City during the second half of 2005, and that petitioner and her husband started the construction of their house in Corinthian Hills in 2006.[165] That petitioner purchased the residential lot in Corinthian Hills is not up for debate. Taken together, these facts establish another indicium of petitioner's establishment of a new domicile in the Philippines.

Our very own jurisdiction treats acquisition of residential property as a factor indicating establishment of a new domicile. Take the 2012 case of Jalosjos v. COMELEC,[166] in which we held that Rommel Jalosjos acquired a new domicile in Zamboanga Sibugay:

Jalosjos presented the affidavits of next-door neighbors, attesting to his physical presence at his residence in Ipil. These adjoining neighbors are no doubt more credible since they have a better chance of noting his presence or absence than his other neighbors, whose affidavits Erasmo presented, who just sporadically passed by the subject residence. Further, it is not disputed that Jalosjos bought a residential lot in the same village where he lived and a fish pond in San Isidro, Naga, Zamboanga Sibugay. He showed correspondences with political leaders, including local and national party-mates, from where he lived. Moreover, Jalosjos is a registered voter of Ipil by final judgment of the Regional Trial Court of Zamboanga Sibugay. (Emphasis supplied)

It has been argued that the acquisition of a temporary dwelling in Greenhills, the purchase of a residential lot in Corinthian Hills, and the eventual construction of a house in the latter place do not indicate an intent on the part of petitioner to stay in the country for good. The 2013 case of Jalosjos v. COMELEC[167] has been cited to support this conclusion, as we purportedly held in that case that ownership of a house "does not establish domicile."

This reading of Jalosjos is not accurate. By no means did Jalosjos rule out ownership of a house or some other property as a factor for establishing a new domicile. To appreciate the statement in its proper context, the relevant discussion in Jalosjos is quoted below:

Assuming that the claim of property ownership of petitioner is true, Fernandez v. COMELEC has established that the ownership of a house or some other property does not establish domicile. This principle is especially true in this case as petitioner has failed to establish her bodily presence in the locality and her intent to stay there at least a year before the elections, to wit:

To use ownership of property in the district as the determinative indicium of permanence of domicile or residence implies that the landed can establish compliance with the residency requirement. This Court would be, in effect, imposing a property requirement to the right to hold public office, which property requirement would be unconstitutional. (Emphasis supplied)

As can be seen from the quoted discourse, the case did not throw out ownership of a house as a factor for determining establishment of a new domicile. Rather, it discarded ownership of a house as a controlling factor for determining establishment of a new domicile.

Even US courts consider acquisition of property as a badge of fixing a new domicile.[168] In Hale v. State of Mississippi Democratic EC,[169] the Supreme Court of Mississippi used acquisition of a new residence as a factor for determining transfer of domicile. In that case, William Stone sought the Democratic Party nomination for Senate District 10, a district covering parts of Marshall County, including Stone's home in Holly Springs. Hale argued that Stone was not eligible to run for that office because he did not meet the two-year residency requirement. Specifically, Hale argued that Stone could not be a resident of Marshall County because Stone .had not abandoned his domicile in Benton County. He had moved to Holly Springs in October 2013.

The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled that Stone had proven that he established his domicile in Marshall County. It relied, among others, on acquisition of a home in the new domicile as a factor:

To prove his position that he had changed his domicile from Benton County to Marshall County, Stone provided an abundance of evidence. In October 2013, Stone rented a house at 305 Peel Lane in Holly Springs, the county seat of Marshall County, and he obtained utility service for the home. In July 2014, he bought a home at 200 Johnson Park in Holly Springs. Furthermore, he notified the Senate comptroller about his change of address, and the comptroller sent an e-mail to every member of the Senate informing them of the change.

x x x x

We have held that '[t]he exercise of political rights, admissions, declarations, the acts of purchasing a home and long-continued residency are circumstances indicative of his intention to abandon his domicile of origin and to establish a new domicile.' Taking into consideration all of these factors, the circuit court did not err in determining that Stone's domicile has existed in Marshall County since October of 2013. (Emphases supplied and citations omitted)

Securing a Taxpayer's Identification Number (TIN) Card

In his Comment-Opposition to the Petition for Certiorari in G.R. No. 221698-700, private respondent Valdez posited that securing a TIN does not conclusively establish petitioner's animus manendi in the Philippines.[170] He reasons that any person, even a non resident, can secure a TIN. On this matter, I must agree with him.

Indeed, the 1997 Tax Code mandates all persons required under our tax laws to render or file a return to secure a TIN.[171] This would include a non-resident so long as he or she is mandated by our tax laws to file a return, statement or some other document.[172] It is thus correct to say that a TIN Card does not conclusively evince the notion that petitioner is a resident of the Philippines.

Nevertheless, the significance of the TIN Card lies in the fact that it lists down the address of petitioner as No. 23 Lincoln St. West Greenhills, the very same address of her mother, Jesusa Sonora Poe, as reflected in the latter's affidavit.[173] Therefore, the TIN Card, which was issued on 22 July 2005, corroborates the assertion that petitioner, upon her arrival in 2005, was then staying at her mother's home.

Registration as Voter

Petitioner registered as a voter on 31 August 2006. This speaks loudly of the intent to establish a domicile in the country. In Hale v. State of Mississippi Democratic EC,[174] the Supreme Court of Mississippi considered registering to vote as a factor indicative of the intent to acquire a new domicile. More importantly, Oglesby v. Williams treats voter registration as one of the two most significant indicia of acquisition of a new domicile. The Oglesby discussion is informative:

This Court's longstanding view on determining a person's domicile was stated in Roberts, where the Court wrote:

The words reside or resident mean domicile unless a contrary intent is shown. A person may have several places of abode or dwelling, but he can have only one domicile at a time. Domicile has been defined as the place with which an individual has a settled connection for legal purposes and the place where a person has his true, fixed, permanent home, habitation and principal establishment, without any present intention of removing therefrom, and to which place he has, whenever he is absent, the intention of returning. The controlling factor in determining a person's domicile is his intent. One's domicile, generally, is that place where he intends to be. The determination of his intent, however, is not dependent upon what he says at a particular time, since his intent may be more satisfactorily shown by what is done than by what is said. Once a domicile is determined or established a person retains his domicile at such place unless the evidence affirmatively shows an abandonment of that domicile. In deciding whether a person has abandoned a previously established domicile and acquired a new one, courts will examine and weigh the factors relating to each place. This Court has never deemed any single circumstance conclusive. However, it has viewed certain factors as more important than others, the two most important being where a person actually lives and where he votes. Where a person lives and votes at the same place such place probably will be determined to constitute his domicile. Where these factors are not so clear, however, or where there are special circumstances explaining a particular place of abode or place of voting, the Court will look to and weigh a number of other factors in deciding a person's domicile.

Furthermore, this Court has stated that the place of voting is the "highest evidence of domicile." ("the two most important elements in determining domicile are where a person actually lives and where he votes"); ("Evidence that a person registered or voted is ordinarily persuasive when the question of domicile is at issue," quoting Comptroller v. Lenderking). Furthermore, actual residence, coupled with voter registration, "clearly create[s] a presumption that [the person] was domiciled" there. ("[w]here the evidence relating to voting and the evidence concerning where a person actually lives both clearly point to the same jurisdiction, it is likely that such place will be deemed to constitute the individual's domicile"). In other words, the law presumes that where a person actually lives and votes is that person's domicile, unless special circumstances explain and rebut the presumption. (Citations omitted) (Emphases supplied)

This Court, too, shares this reverence for the place of voting as an evidence of domicile. In Templeton v. Babcock, [175] we held as follows:

The finding of the trial court to the effect that the deceased had acquired a domicile in the State of California is in our opinion based upon facts which sufficiently support said finding. In particular, we are of the opinion that the trial court committed no error in attaching importance to the circumstance that the deceased had voted in California elections.

Though not of course conclusive of acquisition of domicile, voting in a place is an important circumstance and, where the evidence is scanty, may have decisive weight. The exercise of the franchise is one of the highest prerogatives of citizenship, and in no other act of his life does the citizen identify his interests with the state in which he lives more than in the act of voting. (Emphasis supplied)

In sum, the evidence of petitioner substantiates her claim of the intent to establish a new domicile in the country. The enrollment of her children in local schools since 2005, the family's temporary stay in her mother's home followed by the purchase of the Greenhills condominium unit and the subsequent establishment of the Corinthian Hills family home, the registration of petitioner as a voter and the issuance1 of a TIN Card in her favor, collectively demonstrate the conclusion that she has established an incremental transfer of domicile in the country.

Respondent Valdez, however, points out that petitioner currently maintains two residential properties in the US, one purchased in 1992 and the other in 2008.[176] According to him, this is inconsistent with animus manendi.

This argument disregards overwhelming evidence showing that petitioner intended to establish a new domicile in the country. Petitioner has uprooted her family from Virginia, US to Manila, enrolled her children soon after her arrival in the Philippines, acquired residential properties in the new domicile - one of which now serves as the current family home - and registered as a voter. These factors all point to one direction: petitioner is in the country and is here to stay. We cannot disregard these factors, all of which establish a nexus to the new domicile, because of a solitary fact: the retention of two residential houses in the US. To be sure, it is difficult to justify a conclusion which considers only one contact in the old domicile and ignores many significant contacts established by the removing person in the new domicile.

Moreover, petitioner only admitted[177] that she owns the two houses. She never admitted that she resides in any of them. At best, what can only be established is that petitioner owns properties classified as residential properties. Undoubtedly, we cannot make a conclusion that petitioner failed to meet the animus manendi requirement in the absence of proof that petitioner uses one of the properties as a place of abode. In fact, all the evidence points to the fact that she leaves the Philippines only for brief periods of time; obviously with no intention to reside elsewhere.

It is important to always remember that domicile is in the main a question of intent.[178] It requires fact-intensive analysis. Not a single factor is conclusive. It is the totality of the evidence that must be considered.

Even the US Supreme Court admitted that domicile is a difficult question of fact that its resolution commands a pragmatic and careful approach. In The District of Columbia v. Murphy,[179] the US High Court remarked:

[T]he question of domicile is a difficult one of fact to be settled only by a realistic and conscientious review of the many relevant (and frequently conflicting) indicia of where a man's home is and according to the established modes of proof.[180]

It is interesting to note that the US Supreme Court appended a footnote on the term home in the above quoted statement. Footnote 10 states:

Of course, this term does not have the magic qualities of a divining rod in locating domicile. In fact, the search for th¢ domicile of any person capable of acquiring a domicile of choice is llut a search for his "home." See Beale, Social Justice and Business Costs, 49 Harv.L.Rev. 593, 596; 1 Beale, Conflict of Laws, § 19.1.[181]

Now, if we are to adopt the view that petitioner failed to meet the animus manendi requirement on the ground that she maintains two houses in the US, I pose this question: in our search for petitioner's home, are we making a realistic and conscientious review of all the facts?

Additionally, it is not required for purposes of establishing a new domicile that a person must sever all contacts with the old domicile.[182] I therefore find nothing wrong with petitioner maintaining residential properties in the old domicile.

It has been further suggested that petitioner's invocation of acquisition of residential property as a factor showing animus manendi does not benefit her considering that she purchased in 2008 a residential property in the US, which was subsequent to her purchase of the condominium unit and the residential lot in the Philippines, and that she maintained the one she acquired in 1992. But what is considered for animus manendi purposes as a factor is acquisition of a house in the new domicile. Acquisition of a house in the old domicile is not a factor for determining animus manendi.

That petitioner still maintains two houses in the US does not negate her abandonment of her US domicile. First, it has, not been shown that petitioner actually lived in the residential house acquired in 1992. What is clear is that there was only one family home in Virginia, US, and petitioner had already reestablished her residence in the Philippines before it was even sold.

Second, the residential house acquired in 2008 has no bearing in the cases before us with regard to determining the validity of petitioner's abandonment of her US domicile, particularly because it was purchased after she had already reacquired her Filipino citizenship. In this regard, even respondent Valdez claims that "it is only upon her reacquisition of Filipino citizenship on 18 July 2006, that she can be considered to have established her domicile in the Philippines."[183] This concession already leaves no question as to petitioner's abandonment of her US domicile and intent to reside permanently in the Philippines at the time that the residential house in the US was purchased in 2008.

1. Intent to Abandon the Old Domicile

To prove her intent to abandon her old domicile in the US, petitioner presented the following evidence: (1) email exchange's between petitioner or her husband and the property movers regarding relocation of their household goods, furniture and vehicles from the US to the Bhilippines; (2) invoice document showing delivery from the US and to the Philippines of the personal properties of petitioner and her family; (3) acknowledgment of change of address by the US Postal Service; (4) sale lof the family home on 27 April 2006.

Plans to Relocate

In Oglesby v. Williams,[184] the Court of Appeals of Maryland noted that plans for removal show intent to abandon the old domicile. The Court said:

[T]here are many citizens of Maryland who intend to change their domicile upon retirement and may make quite elaborate plans toward fulfilling that intent by building a retirement home in the place where they intend to retire. Such plans, by themselves, do not prove the abandonment of an existing domicile, although it is evidence of the intention to do so. Were such planning to be sufficient, the intent requirement would swallow the requirement of an actual removal to another habitation with the intent to reside there indefinitely. (Emphasis supplied)

In this case, petitioner submitted email exchanges showing that the family began planning to move back to the Philippines as early as March 2005. Exhibit "6-series" includes an email letter dated 17 March 2005 and sent to petitioner by Karla Murphy on 18 March 2005. Based on the email, Karla worked at Victory Van, a company engaged in moving personal belongings. Apparently, petitioner had asked for an estimate of moving personal properties from the US to the Philippines. The email reply reads:

From: Karla Murphy MURPHY@VictoryVan.com
To: gllamanzares gllamanzares@aol.com
Subject: Relocation to Manila Estimate
Date: Fri, 18 Mar 2005
3.17.05

Hi Grace:

Sorry for the delay in getting this to you. I know you are eager to get some rates for budgetary purposes.

I estimate that you have approximately 28,000 lbs of household goods plus your two vehicles. This will necessitate using THREE 40' containers. You not only have a lot of furniture but many of your pieces plus the toys are very voluminous. We will load the containers from bottom to top not to waste any space but I sincerely believe you will need two containers just for your household goods.

To provide you with door to door service which would include packing, export wrapping, custom crating for chandeliers, marble top and glass tops, loading of containers at your residence, US customs export inspection for the vehicles, transportation to Baltimore, ocean freight and documentation to arrival Manila, customs clearance, delivery, with collection of vehicles from agent in Manila unwrapping and placement of furniture, assisted unpacking, normal assembly (beds, tables, two piece dressers and china closets), container return to port and same day debris removal based on three 40' containers, with 28,000 lbs of HHG and two autos will be USD 19,295.

Grace, I predict you will have some questions. I will be out of the office tomorrow and will be in the office all day on Monday. If your questions can't wait please call me on my cell number at 703 297 27 88.

I'll talk to you soon.

Kind regards and again, thanks for your patience.

Karla (Emphases Supplied)

The email indicates that petitioner was planning to move an estimated 28,000 pounds of household goods plus two vehicles from Virginia, US to Manila. The email further shows that three forty-foot containers were estimated to be used in the movement of these items.

Twenty-eight thousand pounds of personal properties, including two vehicles, is not difficult to visualize. The exchanges during the oral arguments held by this Court for this case shows that three forty-foot containers is about the size of a three-storey house. The exchange is quoted below:

CHIEF JUSTICE SERENO:
Okay. Alright. Now when you come, you see you have thrown out the fact of relocation, continuous schooling, you have thrown that out. May I now ask you what you did in looking at the e-mail that they submitted dated 18 March 2005. Have you [looked] closely at that e-mail?

COMMISSIONER LIM:
Yes, Your Honor.

CHIEF JUSTICE SERENO:
Okay. Can you tell us what that e-mail said?

COMMISSIONER LIM:
These correspondences, e-mail correspondences evinced a strong desire to bring your belongings here to seemingly on the surface, Your Honor, to transfer residence here and to inquire about the cost of moving to the Philippines, Your Honor. . .

CHIEF JUSTICE SERENO:
Did you look at the, how much they were planning to move back to the Philippines?

COMMISSIONER LIM:
Well they said they sold their house there already, Your Honor. . .

CHIEF JUSTICE SERENO:
Twenty eight thousand pounds.

COMMISSIONER LIM:
Yes, Your Honor.

CHIEF JUSTICE SERENO:
And the estimate of the forwarding company is that they need three forty foot containers, correct?

COMMISSIONER LIM:
No question as to, no question as to that, Your Honor.

CHIEF JUSTICE SERENO:
Okay. Alright. Including can you look at what a forty foot container looks like. This. (image flashed on the screen) Please look at this Commissioner Lim.

COMMISSIONER LIM:
I'm quite familiar having been a maritime lawyer in the past. . .

CHIEF JUSTICE SERENO:
Alright. Thank you very much. You see one forty foot container already contains an office, and an entire residence. And then if you put three on top of the other, okay, . . . (image flashed on the screen)

COMMISSIONER LIM:
Yes, Your Honor.

CHIEF JUSTICE SERENO:
That's already the content of an entire house. And they're talking about glass tops, marble tops, chandeliers, in addition to that two cars and pets. Of course, it's not in the e-mail.

In other words, even this there is no intention, Commissioner Lim?[185]

Definitely, the email shows that as early as 18 March 2005, petitioner already had plans to relocate to Manila. It must be stressed that not only household goods would be moved to Manila, but two vehicles as well. Petitioner was certainly not planning for a short trip. The letter, therefore, shows the intent of petitioner to abandon her old domicile in the US as early as March of 2005.

Change of Postal Address

Petitioner also adduced as evidence the email of the US Postal Service acknowledging the notice of change of address made by petitioner's husband. It has been argued that the online acknowledgment merely establishes that petitioner's husband only requested a change of address and did not notify the US Postal service of the abandonment of the old US address. This reasoning fails to appreciate that a notice of change of address is already considered an indicium sufficient to establish the intent to abandon a domicile.

The already discussed Hale v. State of Mississippi Democratic EC[186] utilized change of postal address as a factor for determining the intent to abandon a domicile. In the case of Farnsworth v. Jones,[187] the Court of Appeals of North Carolina noted, among others, the failure of the candidate to change his address. It ruled out the possibility that defendant had actually abandoned his previous residence.

To the contrary, defendant maintained the condominium at Cramer Mountain, ate dinner weekly at the Country Club there, exercised there, and spent approximately 50% of his time there. He additionally did not change his address to Ashley Arms for postal purposes, or for any other purposes. He executed a month-to-month lease for a furnished apartment because he wanted to "see what would happen" in the election. Although defendant acquired a new residence at the Ashley Arms address and expressed his intention to remain there permanently, there is little evidence in the record to indicate that he was actually residing there. x x x. (Emphasis supplied)

I do agree with the observation that the online acknowledgement never showed that the change of address was from the old US address to the new Philippine address. To my mind, however, the deficiency is not crucial considering that there are other factors (discussed elsewhere in this opinion) showing that petitioner's intent was to relocate to the Philippines. What matters as far as the online acknowledgement is concerned is that it indicates an intent to abandon the old domicile of petitioner.

Sale of Old Residence

Another factor present in this case is the sale of petitioner's family home in the US.

In Imbraguglio v. Bernadas[188] decided by the Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit, Bernard Bernadas filed a "Notice of Candidacy" for the office of Sheriff of St. Bernard Parish. Petrina Imbraguglio filed a petition objecting to the candidacy of Bernadas on the ground of failure to establish residence in the parish. It was found that Bernardas sold his home on Etienne Drive on 23 February 2006. Since 31 August 2006, Bernadas has lived with his family at a home he purchased at 7011 General Haig Street in New Orleans. The Louisiana appellate court ruled that Bernardas had abandoned his domicile in the parish by selling his home therein and had not reestablished the same. The Louisiana appellate court held that:

We also find no error in the trial court's finding that the defendant established a new domicile for purposes of La. R.S. 18:451.3 (which took effect on June 8, 2006) by voluntarily selling his home, the only property owned in St. Bernard Parish, and moving to New Orleans without residing anywhere in St. Bernard Parish for two years preceding the date he filed his notice of candidacy to run for sheriff. (Emphasis supplied)

Location of personal belongings

Another vital piece of evidence is the invoice issued by Victory Van to petitioner indicating the actual delivery of personal property to Manila in September 2006 and the cost of shipping of the household goods. Pertinent portions of the Invoice dated 13 September 2006 are quoted below:

Hello! As you may have heard from your agent in the Philippines, there was an overflow. Every effort was made to make it fit in the two 40's and all went except for about 1900 lbs, which will be sent in lift vans. An invoice is attached. Thank you.

x x x x

CUSTOMER:
ORIGIN:
DESTINATION:
Grace Llamanzares
Sterling, VA
Manila, Philippines
DATE:
REFERENCE #:
9/13/2006
EXP06020
WEIGHT:
VOLUME:
VOLUME
25,241 lbs
2-40' S-SC
2 - Lift Vans
Overflow LCI,
Shipment (293 Cu
Ft.)

The invoice proves that 25,241 pounds of personal property owned by petitioner and her family were moved from Sterling, Virginia, US to Manila, Philippines. This proves another factor: the consummation of the previously discussed plan to relocate to Manila. The location of the majority of the personal belongings matters in the determination of a change in domicile. This factor was used in the already discussed Oglesby and in Bell v. Bell.[189]

It must be noted that Bell held that unimportant belongings are not considered in that determination. In that case, the wife sought before a Pennsylvania court the issuance of an injunction restraining the husband from obtaining a divorce in Nevada. She filed the suit on the ground that the husband failed to establish a domicile in Nevada' as he once lived in Pennsylvania. Also, he was away from Nevada most of the time since he worked in Nigeria.

The Pennsylvania Superior Court, in holding that the husband succeeded in establishing a domicile in Nevada, disregarded the fact that the husband left behind a crate of his clothing at the home in Pennsylvania.

As for the relevancy of the clothing left behind at the Pennsylvania location by Mr. Bell after his departure, we, as did the trial court, find this element to be "of little moment. That [Mr. Bell] has done without them for so long shows that they are not of particular importance to him." (Emphasis supplied)

It is worthy to note that the case did not reject movement/ non-movement of personal belongings as a factor for determining domicile. Rather, what it rejected was unimportant personal properties. Thus, this case, combined with the Oglesby case, provides that movement of properties that are valuable/important indicates intent to abandon the previous domicile. Another take-away from this case is that when only unimportant belongings remain in the old domicile, the intent to abandon the old domicile is not diminished.

What is more, it must be emphasized that petitioner donated to the Salvation Army, as shown by Exhibit "15" and Exhibit "15-A," which are receipts showing donations to the Salvation Army of clothes, books and miscellaneous items. The receipts are dated 23 February 2006. The value of the personal effects donated was placed by petitioner's husband at USD300.00 and USD575.00,[190] certainly little personal items that were even then, fully disposed.

What can be gleaned from the above facts is that petitioner intended to bring along with her in the Philippines only those items she deemed important to her, and that those that were left behind were unimportant. It should be stressed that the items donated to charity included books and clothes, which presumably are not valuable to petitioner; hence, the donations to the Salvation Army. Accordingly, petitioner was able to establish another factor indicating the intent of petitioner to abandon her old domicile and establish a new domicile in the Philippines.

In sum, there is more than sufficient evidence indicating petitioner's intent to abandon her domicile in the US. Several factors have been established: plans to transfer to the Philippines, sale of the residence in the old domicile, change of postal address, and relocation of valuable personal belongings to the new domicile.

2. Actual removal from old domicile and relocation to new domicile

The third requirement for establishment of a new domicile is bodily presence in or the actual removal to the new domicile.

In Oglesby v. Williams,[191] the Court of Appeals of Maryland faced the issue of whether Beau H. Oglesby met the two-year residency requirement to run for State's Attorney for Worcester County in the November 2002 general election. Oglesby admitted that he had been domiciled in Wicomico County for a period of time beginning in December 1995. He argued, however, that his purchase of real property in Worcester County on 5 September 2000, more than two years before the election, coupled with his intention to be domiciled there, effectively established that he had changed his domicile to Worcester County.

We do not question, to be sure, that the appellant intended to make Worcester County his residence, his fixed, permanent home and habitation and, thus, to abandon his Wicomico County residence. We simply do not believe that the intent was perfected before the appellant moved into the Worcester County home; the appellant's intent was not actualized until then.

[T]here are many citizens of Maryland who intend to change their domicile upon retirement and may make quite elaborate plans toward fulfilling that intent by building a retirement home in the place where they intend to retire. Such plans, by themselves, do not prove the abandonment of an existing domicile, although it is evidence of the intention to do so. Were such planning to be sufficient, the intent requirement would swallow the requirement of an actual removal to another habitation with the intent to reside there indefinitely.

x x x x

The evidence shows that the appellant established a domicile in Wicomico County in December, 1995 and remained domiciled in that county until, at the earliest, December, 2000. He voted in the November 7, 2000 election in Wicomico County and he did not move into a residence in Worcester County until December, 2000. We hold that the appellant did not become a domiciliary of Worcester County until, at the earliest, he actually moved into his new home on December 20, 2000.

Oglesby makes the date of actual transfer as the reckoning point for the change of domicile. Had the actual removal happened prior to the two-year period, Oglesby would have satisfied the residency requirement in that case.

Applying the rule to this case, it appears that the intent was actualized in 24 May 2005, the date when petitioner arrived in the Philippines, as revealed by her US passport bearing a stamp showing her entry in the Philippines. The fact that she arrived here for the purpose of moving back to the Philippines was not denied by COMELEC during the oral arguments, although it did not recognize the legal implications of such fact.

We must not lose sight of the fact that petitioner registered as a voter in this country on 31 August 2006. Thus, the implication of petitioner having registered on 31 August 2006 is that she had already been a resident in the country for at least one year as of the day of her registration. The reason is that the Voter's Registration Act of 1996[192] requires among other things that the citizen must have resided in the Philippines for at least one year.

That being said, the registration of petitioner as voter bolsters petitioner's claim that she concretized her intent to establish a domicile in the country on 24 May 2005. Take note that if we use 24 May 2005 as the reckoning date for her establishment of domicile in the Philippines, she would have indeed been a resident for roughly one year and three months as of 31 August 2006, the date she registered as a voter in the Philippines.

Besides, when we consider the other factors previously mentioned in this discussion - the enrolment of petitioner's children shortly after their arrival in the Philippines, the purchase of the condominium unit during the second half of 2005, the construction of their house in Corinthian Hills in 2006, the notification of the US Postal Service of petitioner's change of address - there can only be one conclusion: petitioner was here to stay in the Philippines for good when she arrived in May 2005.

Let me highlight the fact of enrolment of petitioner's children in 2005. This happened shortly after their arrival in the Philippines, which was in May 2005. Taking together the two facts - the arrival of the family in May and the subsequent attendance of the children in local schools the following month - the logical conclusion that we can derive from them is that petitioner arrived early in May so as to prepare her children's schooling in the Philippines. Now, given that in May, she already had in mind the attendance of her children in local schools, this indicates that petitioner, at the time of her arrival already had the intent to be in the country for the long haul.

Lastly, we must not overlook the proximity of her date of arrival in the Philippines in 24 May 2005 to the death of her father in 14 December 2004. The closeness of the dates confirms the claim of petitioner that the untimely death of her father and the need to give her mother moral support and comfort. The return to the country, it must be emphasized, happened within one year of the death of petitioner's father. It reflects the motive of petitioner for her return to the Philippines: the only child had to return to the Philippines as soon as possible so that she could, be with her grieving mother. More important, this very same motive justifies the acts of relocation she executed, several of which occurred within a year of the death of her father.

As a result, petitioner's arrival in the Philippines on 24 May 2005 was definitely coupled with both animus manendi and animus non revertendi.

True, petitioner's transfer in this case was incremental. But this Court has already recognized the validity of incremental transfers. In Mitra v. COMELEC,[193] We stated:

Mitra's feed mill dwelling cannot be considered in isolation and separately from the circumstances of his transfer of residence, specifically, his expressed intent to transfer to a residence outside of Puerto Princesa City to make him eligible to run for a provincial position; his preparatory moves starting in early 2008; his initial transfer through a leased dwelling; the purchase of a lot for his permanent home; and the construction of a house in this lot that, parenthetically, is adjacent to the premises he leased pending the completion of his house. These incremental moves do not offend reason at all, in the way that the COMELEC's highly subjective non-legal standards do. (Emphasis supplied)

Even the Superior Court of Pennsylvania in Bell v. Bell[194] recognized the notion of incremental transfers in a change of domicile:

Intent, being purely subjective, must to a large extent be determined by the acts which are manifestations of that intent. However, it does not follow from that that the acts must all occur simultaneously with the formation of the intent. Such a conclusion would be contrary to human nature. One does not move to a new domicile and immediately change church membership, bank account, operator's license, and club memberships. Nor does he immediately select a neighborhood, purchase a home and buy furniture. All of those acts require varying degrees of consideration and as a consequence cannot be done hastily nor simultaneously. (Emphases supplied)

The foregoing considered, the COMELEC used a wrong consideration in reaching the conclusion that petitioner failed to meet the durational residency requirement of 10 years. There is no falsity to speak of in the representation made by petitioner with regard to her residence in the country. For using wrong or irrelevant considerations in deciding the issue, COMELEC tainted its cancellation of petitioner's 2016 certificate of candidacy for president with grave abuse of discretion.

Long Residence in the Philippines

We must remember that petitioner and her children would have stayed in the Philippines for 10 years and 11 months by 9 May 2016. For nearly 11 years, her children have studied and spent a substantial part of their formative years here. On this, the case of Hale is again instructive:

We have held that '[t]he exercise of political rights, admissions, declarations, the acts of purchasing a home and long-continued residency are circumstances indicative of his intention to abandon his domicile of origin and to establish a new domicile.' Taking into consideration all of these factors, the circuit court did not err in determining that Stone's domicile has existed in Marshall County since October of 2013. (Emphasis supplied and citations omitted)

Petitioner's intention to abandon US
domicile was not negated

The COMELEC First Division and the COMELEC En Banc in SPA Nos. 15-002 (DC), 15-007 (DC) and 15-139 (DC) ruled that the fact that petitioner's husband remained and retained his employment in the US in May 2005 negated her intent to reside permanently in the Philippines. Furthermore, petitioner travelled frequently to the US using her US passport even after she reacquired her Philippine citizenship. According to the COMELEC, these show that she has not abandoned her domicile in the US. Respondent Valdez also points to two houses in the US that petitioner maintains up to the present, and alleges that this fact also negates her alleged intent to reside permanently in the Philippines.

The fact that petitioner's husband was left in the US and retained his employment there should be viewed based on the totality of the circumstances and the reason for such separation. There is no question that the impetus for petitioner to move back to the Philippines was the death of her father in December 2004 and the desire to be back in the Philippines and comfort her grieving mother. There is also no question that by May 2005, petitioner and her children were already living in the Philippines and the children already enrolled in Philippine schools.

Petitioner and her family could not have been expected to uproot their lives completely from the US and finish all arrangements in the span of six months. One of the spouses had to remain in the US to wind up all logistical affairs. There is also no showing that petitioner is able to readily find a job in the Philippines upon their return. Again, one of the spouses has to continue earning a living for the family's upkeep and to finance the heavy cost of relocation. The conjugal decision became clear when it was the husband who kept his employment in the us and came to join his family in the Philippines only after the sale of the house in the US.

To my mind, that petitioner's husband remained in the US until April 2006 only showed that the family endured a period of separation in order to rebuild their family life together in the Philippines. The fact that the husband stayed behind should not have been considered in isolation but contemplated in light of the realities of the situation.

The COMELEC also faults petitioner for travelling to the US "frequently" using her US passport. A closer examination of the factual circumstances at the time, however, reveals that petitioner had a justifiable reason for doing so.

When petitioner came back to the Philippines in May 2005, she was admittedly still a US citizen. She reacquired her Philippine citizenship on 7 July 2006 under the auspices of Republic Act No. 9225 and became a dual citizen of the Philippines and the US. It was only on 20 October 2010 that petitioner renounced her US citizenship and became a pure Filipino citizen. Thus, petitioner was a US citizen from May 2005 to 20 October 2010.

Section 215(b) of the US Immigration and Nationality Act provides that "it shall be unlawful for any citizen of the United States to depart from or enter, or attempt to depart from or enter, the United States unless he bears a valid United States passport." This provision is echoed in Section 53.1 of the US Code of Federal Regulations, unless the US citizen falls under any of the exceptions provided therein.[195]

Petitioner, as a US citizen, was required by law to use her US passport when travelling to and from the US. Notwithstanding her dual citizenship and the abandonment of her US domicile, she could not have entered or departed from the US if she did not use her US passport.

In Maquiling v. COMELEC,[196] which I penned for the Court, while we ruled that the use of a foreign passport negates the earlier renunciation of such foreign citizenship, did not say, however, that the use of a foreign passport after reacquisition of Philippine citizenship and before the renunciation of the foreign citizenship adversely affects the residency of a candidate for purposes of running in the elections. This case cannot, therefore, be used as basis to negate petitioner's residency. This Maquiling decision involved Rommel Arnado who was elected Mayor of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte in the 2010 elections. He ran also for the 2013 elections for the same post and won again. The Court affirmed the Maquiling doctrine in the case of Arnado v. COMELEC.[197] The doctrine was not expanded in any manner as to affect petitioner's citizenship claim. The Maquiling doctrine solely has to do with the effect of the continued use of a US passport after the renunciation of US citizenship. In the case of petitioner, there is absolutely no evidence, which even COMELEC admits, that she used a US passport after she renounced her US citizenship on 20 October 2010. Clearly, Maquiling and Arnado are not relevant to the petitioner's case until new proof can be adduced contradicting the present state of the evidence on record that petitioner never used her US passport after she renounced her US citizenship.

Taking into account all these pieces of evidence, it cannot be said that petitioner made a false material representation in her 2016 certificate of candidacy for president as far as her residency is concerned. The totality of these circumstances shows that indeed, she had re-established her residence in the Philippines for 10 years and 11 months until the day before the elections in May 2016, which is sufficient to qualify her to run for president in the country. At the very least, it negates a finding of deliberate intention on her part to mislead the electorate with regard to her residency. Evidently, a single statement in her 2013 certificate of candidacy for senator cannot be deemed to overthrow the entirety of the evidence on record, which shows that her residence in the Philippines commenced in May 2005.

IV.
B. ON CITIZENSHIP

In the assailed Resolutions, the COMELEC also declared that petitioner made a false material representation when she declared that she was a natural-born citizen of the Philippines. According to the commission, petitioner's inability to prove her blood relationship to a Filipino parent precluded her from ever claiming natural-born status under the 1935 Constitution. COMELEC argues, therefore, that her declaration as to her citizenship must necessarily be considered false.

I find no support whatsoever for these legal conclusions.

Petitioner did not make a false material
representation regarding her citizenship in
her 2016 Certificate of Candidacy for
president.

Considering that there has been no definitive ruling on the citizenship of foundlings, it would be unreasonable and unfair for the COMELEC to declare that petitioner deliberately misrepresented her status as a natural-born citizen of the Philippines. In fact, the evidence she submitted in support of her claim of citizenship gives us every reason to accept her assertion of good faith.

In any event, I believe that there is sufficient legal basis to sustain a presumption of citizenship in favor of petitioner notwithstanding the absence of any physical proof of her filiation. Her natural-born status can be founded from solid interpretation of the provisions of the Constitution.

There was no deliberate attempt to
mislead, misinform, or hide a fact
that would otherwise render her
ineligible.

Contrary to claims that petitioner committed deliberate misrepresentation when she declared that she is a natural-born Filipino citizen, the following documents support a finding of good faith on her part:

1. Adoption Decree

The adoption decree issued in favor of petitioner in 1974 allows her to legally claim to be the daughter of Ronald Allan Poe and Jesusa Sonora Poe. This proposition finds support in statutes and jurisprudence.

In Republic v. Court of Appeals, We held that upon entry of an adoption decree, the law creates a relationship in which adopted children were declared "born of' their adoptive parents.[198]

Congress confirmed this interpretation when it enacted R.A. 8552, which provides that the "adoptee shall be considered the legitimate son/daughter of the adopter for all intents and purposes and as such is entitled to all the rights and obligations provided 1 by law to legitimate sons/daughter born to them without discrimination of any kind."[199]

Apart from obtaining the status of legitimate children, adoptees are likewise entitled to maintain the strict confidentiality of their adoption proceedings. The provisions of P.D. 603,[200] R.A. 85152[201] and the Rule on Adoption[202] stipulate that all records, books, and papers relating to the adoption cases in the files of the court, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, or any other agency or institution participating in the

adoption proceedings shall be kept strictly confidential. The records are permanently sealed and may be opened only upon the court's determination that the disclosure of information to third parties if "necessary" and "for the best interest of the adoptee."[203] This grant of confidentiality would mean very little if an adoptee is required to go beyond this decree to prove her parentage.

2. Certificate of Live Birth

Upon the issuance of an adoption decree, an amended certificate of birth is issued by the civil registrar attesting to the fact that the adoptee is the child of the adopters by being registered with their surname.[204] Like all persons, petitioner has the right to rely on this birth certificate for information about her identity, status and filiation.

Article 410 of the Civil Code states that the books making up the civil register and all documents relating thereto are considered public documents and shall be prima facie evidence of the facts therein contained.[205] As a public document, a registered certificate of live birth enjoys the presumption of validity.[206]

Petitioner's birth certificate also has the imprimatur of no less than the Municipal Court of San Juan, Rizal Province.[207] In the absence of a categorical pronouncement in an appropriate proceeding that the decree of adoption is void, the birth certificate and the facts stated therein are deemed legitimate, genuine and real.[208]

Petitioner thus cannot be faulted for relying on the contents of a public document which enjoys strong presumptions of validity under the law. She is actually obliged to do so because the law does not provide her with any other reference for information regarding her parentage. It must be noted that records evidencing her former foundling status have been sealed after the issuance of the decree of adoption. In Baldos v. Court of Appeals and Pillazar,[209] We held that it is not for a person to prove the facts stated in his certificate of live birth, but for those who are assailing the certificate to prove its alleged falsity.

The issuance of an amended certificate without any notation that it is new or amended or issued pursuant to an adoption decree, should not be taken against petitioner, because it merely complies with the confidentiality provisions found in adoption laws.[210] Under Section 16 of the Rule on Adoption (A.M. No. 02-6-02-SC, 31 July 2002), it shall be the responsibility of the civil registrar where the foundling was registered to annotate the adoption decree on the foundling certificate, and to prepare and a new birth certificate without any notation that it is a new or amended certificate.

3. Voter's ID

The Voter's ID issued to petitioner likewise prove that she acted in good faith when she asserted that she was a natural-born citizen of the Philippines. Precisely because of the entries in these documents, Poe could not be expected to claim any citizenship other than that of the Philippines. Hence, she could not have committed a material misrepresentation in making this declaration.

4. Philippine Passport

In 1996, R.A. 8239 (Philippine Passport Act of 1996) was passed. The law imposes upon the government the duty to issue passport or any travel document to any citizen of the Philippines or individμal who complies with the requirements of the Act.[211] "Passport" has been defined as a document issued by the Philippine government to its citizens and requesting other governments to allow its citizens to pass safely and freely, and in case of need to give him/her all lawful aid and protection.[212]

Section 5 of R.A. 8239 states that no passport shall be issued to an applicant unless the Secretary or his duly authorized representative is satisfied that the applicant is a Filipino citizen who has complied with the requirements. Conversely, a Philippine passport holder like petitioner is presumed to be a Filipino citizen, considering the presumption of regularity accorded to acts of public officials in the course of their duties. When the claim to Philippine citizenship is doubtful, only a "travel document" is issued.[213] A travel document, in lieu of a passport, is issued to stateless persons who are likewise permanent residents, or refugees granted such status or asylum in the Philippines.[214] If the State considers foundlings to be anything else but its citizens (stateless persons, for example), it would not have given them passports. However, since the 1950s, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has been issuing passports to foundlings.[215] A quick look at the official website[216] of the DFA would show an enumeration of supporting documents required of foundlings for the issuance of a Philippine passport; to wit, certificate of foundling authenticated by the Philippine Statistics Authority, clearance from the Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD), passport of the person who found the applicant, and letter of authority or endorsement from DSWD for the issuance of passport. The only conclusion that can be made is that foundlings are considered by the State, or at least by the executive, to be Philippine citizens.

Rule 130, Section 44[217] of the Rules of Court has been cited by the Court to support the finding that entries in the passport are presumed true.[218] On its face, the Philippine passport issued to Poe on 16 March 2014 indicates her citizenship to be "Filipino." Hence, the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion in not even considering this as evidence in determining whether Poe intended to deceive the electorate when she indicated that she was a natural-born Filipino.

5. Bureau of Immigration Order

While findings made by Bureau of Immigration (BI) on the citizenship of petitioner is not conclusive on the COMELEC,[219] such negate any notion of bad faith or malice on the part of petitioner when she made the representation in her CoC that she was a natural-born citizen. At the time, the presumption created by the Order was in operation. In effect, petitioner had color of authority to state that she was a natural-born citizen of the Philippines.

It has been argued that petitioner had obtained the BI order only because she misrepresented herself to have been "born ... to Ronald Allan Kelley Poe and Jesusa Sonora Poe."[220] However, as previously discussed, the potent policy interests[221] embedded in the confidentiality of adoption records fully justifies her decision to write the names of her adoptive parents as indicated in her birth certificate.

6. The Decision of the Senate Electoral Tribunal in SET Case No. 001-05

The SET Decision is a prima facie finding of natural-born citizenship that petitioner can rely on. The fact that the SET Decision was issued later than the filing by petitioner of her CoC for president does not take away from its validity as another tangible basis of petitioner to validly claim that she was a natural-born Filipino. It should be borne in mind that the SET Decision is a determination of petitioner's natural-born status as of the time she was elected and assumed her duties as senator of the Philippines. While the Decision was later in issuance, the application of this ruling by the SET significantly predates the filing of her 2016 certificate of candidacy for president.

Taken together, the enumerated documents provide petitioner with sufficient basis for her claim of citizenship. She cannot be faulted for relying upon these pieces of evidence, particularly considering that at the time she made her declaration that she was a natural-born citizen, the presumption created by these documents has not been overturned.

At any rate, it would be absurd for petitioner to answer "foundling" in every document where her filiation and citizenship is required when her birth certificate and other official documents provide otherwise. Not only would this defeat the purpose of the degree of confidentiality prescribed by the law, she would even run the risk of causing offense to her parents whom she would deprive of actual recognition.

Petitioner's honest belief that she was a natural-born citizen is further shown by her constant assertion of her status and is corroborated by official documents and acts of government issued in her favor. I believe that these documents, at the very least, negate any deliberate intent on her part to mislead the electorate as to her citizenship qualification.

Legal Significance of Confirmation of Renunciation

It had been posited that petitioner's repatriation as a citizen of the Philippines under R.A. 9225 had been rendered doubtful by her subsequent acts in 2011, in particular her execution of an Oath/Affirmation of Renunciation of Nationality of United States before a Vice Consul of the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines;[222] her completion of a Questionnaire on Information for Determining Possible Loss of U.S. Citizenship;[223] and the issuance of a Confirmation of Loss of Nationality of the United States.[224]

Suffice it to state that these documents were; executed by petitioner only for the purpose of complying with the requirements of U.S. law. It had no relevance to petitioner's reacquisition of citizenship under Philippine law. The fact remains that she had already properly renounced her U.S. citizenship by executing the Affidavit of Renunciation required in Section 5 of R.A. 9225. Any act done thereafter served only to confirm this earlier renunciation of foreign citizenship.

Respondent validly presumed that
she is a citizen of the Philippines.

The failure of the COMELEC to properly appreciate evidence showing good faith on the part of petitioner is compounded by its narrow-minded approach to the question of citizenship. There is sufficient basis to support the presumption that foundlings are citizens of the Philippines.

Although the citizenship of foundlings is not expressly addressed by the language of Article IV of the Constitution, Philippine statutes, administrative regulations and jurisprudence support this conclusion, even in light of the absence of physical proof to establish foundlings filiation.

Moreover, a presumption of foundlings their natural-born status can be established by the deliberations of the 1935 Constitution and the history of its provisions. These legal authorities and materials serve as sufficient justification for any foundlings good faith belief that she is a natural-born citizen.

The standard proposed by the COMELEC - physical proof of blood relation to a parent who is a citizen of the Philippines - is an impossible, oppressive and discriminatory condition. To allow the imposition of this unjust and unreasonable requirement is to sanction a violation of the Constitution and our obligations under existing international law.

In Philippine law, a foundling refers to a deserted or abandoned infant; or a child whose parents, guardian, or relatives are unknown; or a child committed to an orphanage or charitable or similar institution with unknown facts of birth and parentage, and registered as such in the Civil Register.[225]

The ruling of the COMELEC is premised solely on the admitted fact that petitioner is a foundling. As explained in the assailed Resolutions, petitioner was found abandoned in the parish church of Jaro, Iloilo, on 3 September 1968 by a certain Edgardo Militar. She was later on legally adopted by Ronald Allan Poe and Jesusa Sonora Poe. To date, however, her biological parents are unknown.

According to the COMELEC, these circumstances render the citizenship of petitioner questionable. It claims that I since she is unable to establish the identities of her parents, she is likewise incapable of proving that she is related by blood to a Filipino parent. Accordingly, she cannot be considered a natural-born Filipino citizen. These arguments are unmeritorious.

Filiation as a matter of legal fiction

Under Philippine law, the parentage of a child is a matter of legal fiction. Its determination relies not on physical proof, but on legal presumptions and circumstantial evidence. For instance, a child is disputably or conclusively presumed legitimate, i.e. born of two married individuals depending on the period that elapsed between the birth of that child and the ce1ebration[226] or termination[227] of the spouses' marriage. The presumption of the fact of legitimacy is one of the strongest known to the law, and cannot be overthrown except by stronger evidence.[228] As the Court explained in Rodolfo A. Aguilar v. Edna G. Siasat:[229]

There is perhaps no presumption of the law more firmly established and founded on sounder morality and more convincing reason than the presumption that children born in wedlock are legitimate. This presumption indeed becomes conclusive in the absence of proof that there is physical impossibility of access between the spouses during the first 120 days of the 300 days which immediately precedes the birth of the child due to (a) the physical incapacity of the husband to have sexual intercourse with his wife; (b) the fact that the husband and wife are living separately in such a way that sexual intercourse is not possible; or (c) serious illness of the husband, which absolutely prevents sexual intercourse. Quite remarkably, upon the expiration of the periods set forth in Article 170, and in proper cases Article 171, of the Family Code (which took effect on 03 August 1988), the action to impugn the legitimacy of a child would no longer be legally feasible and the status conferred by the presumption becomes fixed and unassailable. (Emphases supplied)

The Family Code also allows paternity and filiation to be established through any of the following methods: (1) record of birth; (2) written admission of filiation; (3) open and continuous possdssion of the status of a legitimate or an illegitimate child; (4) or other means allowed by the Rules or special laws.[230] Notably, none of these methods requires physical proof of parentage:

(a) The entries in a record of birth depend only on the statements of certain persons identified by law: in general, administrator of the hospital, or in absence thereof, either of the following: the physician/nurse/midwife/hilot who attended the birth. In default of both, either or both parents shall cause the registration of the birth; and if the birth occurs in a vessel/vehicle/airplane while in transit, registration shall be the joint responsibility of the driver/captain/pilot and the parents.[231]

(b) Filiation may also be proved by an admission of legitimate filiation in a public document or a private handwritten instrument and signed by the parent concerned. In Aguilar, the Court declared that such due recognition in any authentic writing is, in itself, a consummated act of acknowledgment of the child and requires no further court action.[232]

(c) With respect to open and continuous possession of the status of children and other means allowed by the Rules of Court, the relevant sections of Rule 130 provide:

SEC. 39. Act or declaration about pedigree. - The act or declaration of a person deceased, or unable to testify, in respect to the 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.

SEC. 40. Family reputation or tradition regarding pedigree. - The reputation or tradition existing in a family previous to the controversy, in respect to the pedigree of any one of its members, may be received in evidence if the witness testifying thereon be also a member of the family, either by consanguinity or affinity. Entries in family bibles or other family books or charts, engraving on rings, family portraits and the like, may be received as evidence of pedigree.

Evidently, there is no legal basis for the standard proposed by the COMELEC and private respondents. Physical or scientific proof of a blood relationship to a putative parent is not required by law to establish filiation or any status arising therefrom such as citizenship. In fact, this Court has repeatedly emphasized that DNA evidence is not absolutely essential so long as paternity or filiation may be established by other proof.233 There is, therefore, no reason to impose this undue burden on petitioner, particularly in light of her situation as a foundling. Instead of requiring foundlings to produce evidence of their filiation - a nearly impossible condition - administrative agencies, the courts and even Congress have instead proceeded on the assumption that these children are citizens of the Philippines.

Contemporaneous and subsequent
construction by the legislature, executive
and judicial branches of government

Although the details of their births cannot be established, foundlings are provided legal protection by the state through statutes, rules, issuances and judicial decisions allowing their adoption. As early as 1901, the Code of Civil Procedure[234] recognized that children whose parents are unknown have a right to be adopted. Failure to identify the parents of the child was not made an obstacle to adoption; instead, the rules allowed a legal guardian, or the trustees/directors of an orphan asylum, to grant the required consent on behalf of the unknown parents. Similar provisions were included in the subsequent revisions of the Rules of Court in 1940[235] and 1964.[236]

Early statutes also specifically allowed the adoption of foundlings. Act No. 1670 was enacted precisely to provide for the adoption of poor children who were in the custody of asylums and other institutions. These children included orphans or "any other child so maintained therein whose parents are unknown":[237]

SECTION 548. Adoption of child from institution for poor children. - Upon the application of any person to the competent authorities of any asylum or institution where the poor children are maintained at public expense to adopt any child so maintained therein, it shall be the duty of such authorities, with the approval of the Secretary of the Interior, to report the fact to the provincial fiscal, or in the City of Manila to the fiscal of the city, and such official shall thereupon prepare the necessary adoption papers and present the matter to the proper court. The costs of such proceeding, in court shall be de oficio.

The provisions of Act No. 1670 were substantially included in the Administrative Code of 1916[238] and in the Revised Administrative Code of 1911.[239]

In 1995, Congress enacted Republic Act No. 8043 to establish the rules governing the "Inter-country Adoption of Filipino Children." The adoption of a foundling was similarly recognized under Section 8 of the statute, which allowed the submission of a foundling certificate to facilitate the inter-country adoption of a child.[240] A few years later or in 1998, the law on "Domestic Adoption of Filipino Children" was amended through R.A. 8552. This time, a specific provision was included to govern the registration of foundlings for purposes of adoption:

SECTION 5. Location of Unknown Parent(s). - It shall be the duty of the Department or the child-placing or child-caring agency which has custody of the child to exert all efforts to locate his/her unknown biological parent(s). If such efforts fail, the child shall be registered as a foundling and subsequently be the subject of legal proceedings where he/she shall be declared abandoned.

In 2009, Congress passed R.A. 9523,[241] which allowed the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to declare a child "legally available for adoption" as a prerequisite for adoption proceedings. Under this statute, foundlings were included in the definition of abandoned children[242] and expressly allowed to be adopted, provided they were first declared by the DSWD as available for adoption.[243] Administrative Order No. 011-09 was adopted by that department in 2009 to implement the statute.[244]

These enactments and issuances on adoption are significant, because they effectively recognize foundlings as citizens of the Philippines. It must be emphasized that jurisdiction over adoption cases is determined by the citizenship of the adopter and the adoptee. As explained by this Court in Spouses Ellis v. Republic,[245] the Philippine Civil Code adheres to the theory that jurisdiction over the status of a natural person is determined by the latter's nationality. This 1uling cites Article 15 of the Civil Code:

ARTICLE 15. 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.

The citizenship of a person is a "status" governed by this provision is clear, pursuant to our ruling in Board of Immigration Commissioners v. Callano.[246] In that case, We applied the nationality rule in Article 15 to determine whether some individuals had lost their Philippine citizenship:

"The question, whether petitioners who are admittedly Filipino citizens at birth subsequently acquired Chinese citizenship under the Chinese Law of Nationality by reason of recognition or a prolonged stay in China, is a fit subject for the Chinese law and the Chinese court to determine, which cannot be resolved by a Philippine court without encroaching on the legal system of China. For, the settled rule of international law, affirmed by the Hague Convention on Conflict of Nationality Laws of April 12, 1930 and by the International Court of Justice, is that." Any question as to whether a person possesses the nationality of a particular state should be determined in accordance with the laws of that state. (quoted in Salonga, Private International Law, 1957 Ed., p. l 12) There was no necessity of deciding that question because so far as concern the petitioners' status, the only question in this proceeding is: Did the petitioners lose their Philippine citizenship upon the performance of certain acts or the happening of certain events in China? In deciding this question no foreign law can be applied. The petitioners are admittedly Filipino citizens at birth, and their status must be governed by Philippine law wherever they may be, in conformity with Article 15 (formerly Article 9) of the Civil Code which provides as follows: "Laws relating to family rights and duties, or to the status, conditions and legal capacity of persons are binding upon citizens of the Philippines, even though living abroad." Under Article IV, Section 2, of the Philippine Constitution, "Philippine citizenship. may be lost or reacquired m the manner provided by law," which implies that the question of whether a Filipino has lost his Philippine citizenship shall be determined by no other than the Philippine law. (Emphasis supplied)

Ellis also discredits the assertion that this Court has no power to determine the citizenship of a foundling based only on presumptions. In that case, an infant named Baby Rose was abandoned at the Heart of Mary Villa, an institution for unwed mothers. When an American couple, the Spouses Ellis, later sought to adopt Baby Rose, the Supreme Court presumed the citizenship of the infant for purposes of adoption:

"In this connection, it should be noted that this is a proceedings in rem, which no court may entertain unless it has jurisdiction, not only over the subject matter of the case an4 over the parties, but also over the res, which is the personal status of Baby Rose as well as that of petitioners herein. Our Civil Code (Art. 15) adheres to the theory that jurisdiction over the status of a natural person is determined by the latters' nationality. Pursuant to this theory, we have jurisdiction over the status of Baby Rose, she being a citizen of the Philippines, but not over the status of the petitioners, who are foreigners. Under our political law, which is patterned after the Anglo-American legal system, we have, likewise, adopted the latter's view to the effect that personal status, in general, is determined by and/or subject to the jurisdiction of the domiciliary law (Restatement of the Law of Conflict of Laws, p. 86; The Conflict of Laws by Beale, Vol. I, p. 305, Vol. II, pp. 713-714). This, perhaps, is the reason why our Civil Code does not permit adoption by nonresident aliens, and we have consistently refused to recognize the validity of foreign decrees of divorce - regardless of the grounds upon which the same are based - involving citizens of the Philippines who are not bona fide residents of the forum, even when our laws authorized absolute divorce in the Philippines. (citations omitted and emphasis supplied)

In the 1976 case Duncan v. CFI of Rizal,[247] the Court again presumed the Philippine citizenship of a foundling for purposes of adoption. Notwithstanding the refusal of the de facto guardian o reveal the identity of the child's mother, the adoption of the abandoned child was allowed in order to prevent a "cruel sanction on an innocent child":

Having declared that the child was an abandoned one by an unknown parent, there appears to be no m re legal need to require the written consent of such parent o the child to the adoption. xxx.

The trial court in its decision had sought refuse in the ancient Roman legal maxim "Dura lexsedlex" to cleanse its hands of the hard and harsh decision it rendered. While this old adage generally finds apt application in many other legal cases, in adoption of children, however, this should be softened so as to apply the law with less severity and with compassion and humane understanding, for adoption is more or the benefit of unfortunate children, particularly those born out of wedlock, than for those born with a silver spoon in their mouths. All efforts or acts designed to provide homes, love, care and education for unfortunate children, who otherwise may grow from cynical street urchins to hardened criminal offenders and become serious social problems, should be given the widest latitude of sympathy, encouragement and assistance. The law is not, and should not be made, an instrument to impede the achievement of a salutary humane policy As often as is legally and lawfully possible, their texts and intendments should be construed so as to give all the chances for human life to exist - with a modicum promise f a useful and constructive existence.

. . . If we are now to sustain the decision of the court below, this Tribunal will be doing a graver injustice to all concerned particularly to said spouses, and worse, it will be imposing a cruel sanction on this innocent child and on all other children who might be similarly situated. We consider it to be justifiable and more humane to formalize a factual relation, that of parents and son, existing between the herein petitioning spouses and the minor child baptized by them as Colin Berry Christensen Duncan, than to sustain the hard, harsh and cruel interpretation of he law that was done by the private respondent court and Judge. It is Our view that it is in consonance with the rue spirit and purpose of the law, and with the policy of the State, to uphold, encourage and give life and meaning to the existence of family relations.

Although the citizenship of the child in Duncan was not elaborated upon, the Court proceeded to assume jurisdiction over the adoption proceedings. From this act, it may be inferred that the Court presumed that the child was a Philippine citizen whose status m y be determined by a Philippine court pursuant to Article 15 of the Civil Code.

The foregoing enactments and decisions prove the contemporaneous and subsequent interpretation of the Constitution b the three branches of government. It is evident that Congress, certain administrative agencies and even the courts have always proceeded on the assumption that these children are Filipino citizens in the absence of evidence to the contrary.

The assertion that citizenship cannot be made to rest upon a presumption is contradicted by the previous pronouncements of this Court. In Board of Commissioners et. al v. Dela Rosa,[248] the Court utilized a presumption of citizenship in favor of respondent William Gatchalian on the basis of an Order of the Bureau of Immigration admitting him as a Filipino citizen.

On March 15, 1973, then Acting Commissioner Nituda issued an Order (Annex "6", counter-petition which affirmed the Board of Special Inquiry No. 1 decision dated July 6, 1961 admitting respondent Gatchalian and others as Filipino citizens; recalled the July 6, 1962 warrant of arrest an revalidated their Identification Certificates.

The above order admitting respondent as a Filipino citizen is the last official act of the government on the basis of which respondent William Gatchalian continually exercised the rights of a Filipino citizen to the present. Consequently, the presumption of citizenship lies in favor of respondent William Gatchalian.

In 2004, a presumption was likewise made y this Court to resolve issues involving the citizenship of presidential candidate Fernando Poe, Jr. in Tecson v. COMELEC.[249] In particular, the presumption that Poe's grandfather had been a resident of San Carlos, Pangasinan, from 1898 to 1902, entitled him to benefit from the en masse Filipinization effected by the Philippine Bill of 1902. We explained:

The death certificate of Lorenzo Pou would indicate that he died on 11 September 1954, at the age of 84 years, in San Carlos, 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 Philippine during the crucial period of from 1898 to 1902 considering that there was no existing record about such fact in the Records Management an 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 Of ice would have had complete records of all residents of the Philippines from 1898 to 1902.

x x x x

(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 private respondent FPJ is a natural-born citizen, which, in turn, depended on whether or not the father of private respondent, Allan F. Poe, would have himself been a Filipino citizen and, in the affirmative, whether or not the alleged illegitimacy of private 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 ho n 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 private respondent FPJ. The 1935 Constitution, during which regime private respondent FPJ has seen first light, confers citizenship to all persons whose fathers e Filipino citizens regardless of whether such children are legitimate or illegitimate. (Emphasis supplied)

It is reasonable to presume that petitioner is a Filipino citizen, considering that she was found abandoned in Iloilo at a time when the number of children born to foreigners in the country as but a small fraction of the total number of births in the Philippines.[250] without evidence to the contrary, this presumption must stand in accordance with the rules on evidence.

The Place of Probability in the Rule of Law

Obedience to the rule of law is the bedrock of the Philippine justice system.[251] In order to expound and define the true meaning and operation of these laws, they must first be ascertained by judicial determination, and in order "to produce uniformity in these determinations, they ought to be submitted, in the last resort, to one supreme tribunal xxx authorized to settle and declare in the last resort a uniform rule of civil justice."[252]

The rules of evidence, authorized by the Constitution, is a means by which uniformity is instituted in the judicial system whether in courts of law or administrative agencies granted quasi-adjudicatory power. These rules govern the means of ascertaining the truth respecting a matter of fact.[253]

It must be emphasized that ascertaining evidence does not entail absolute certainty. Under Rule 128 of the Rules of Court, evidence must only induce belief in the existence of a fact in issue, thus:

Section 4. Relevancy; collateral matters. - Evidence must have such a relation to the fact in issue as to induce belief in its existence or nonexistence. Evidence on collateral matters shall not be allowed, except when it tends in any reasonable degree to establish the probability or improbability of the fact in issue. (Emphasis supplied)

Hence, judges are not precluded from drawing conclusions from inferences based on established facts. In the case of Joaquin v. Navarro,[254] the Court proceeded to discuss this process:[255]

In speaking of inference the rule can not mean beyond doubt, for "inference is never certainty, but it may be plain enough to justify a finding of fact."

x x x x

"Juries must often reason," says one author, "according to probabilities, drawing an inference that the main fact in issue existed from collateral facts not directly proving, but strongly tending to prove, its existence. The vital question in such cases is the cogency of the proof afforded by the secondary facts. How likely, according to experience, is the existence of the primary fact if certain secondary facts exist?" The same author tells us of a case where "a jury was justified in drawing the inference that the person who was caught firing a shot at an animal trespassing on his land was the person who fired a shot about an hour before at the same animal also trespassing." That In fact, the circumstances in the illustration leave greater room for another possibility than do the facts of the case at hand.[256] (Emphasis supplied and citations omitted)

This is enshrined in established legal doctrines, including that of probable cause for preliminary investigation,[257] probable cause for issuance of a warrant of arrest,[258] substantial evidence,[259] preponderance of evidence,[260] and character evidence.[261]

Jurisprudence is replete with cases decided on the basis of probability. For example, the Court affirmed an award of work-related compensation to an employee who contracted rectal cancer based on a probability, stating thus:

The degree of proof required to establish work connection between the disabling ailment and the working conditions is merely substantial evidence, or "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion" Probability not certainty is the touchstone in testing evidence of work-connection.[262] (Emphasis in the original and citations omitted).

In criminal cases, it has also been ruled that "extrajudicial confessions, independently made without collusion, which are identical with each other in their essential details and are corroborated by other evidence on record, are admissible as circumstantial evidence against the person implicated to show the probability of the latter's actual participation in the commission of the crime."[263]

Note that the two cases cited pertain to different quantum of evidence (substantial for administrative and beyond reasonable doubt for criminal), but both have relied upon probabilities to rule upon n issue. In that sense, it can be concluded that probabilities are considered s essential elements of the judicial determination of relevant evidence.

While it is true that administrative or quasi-judicial bodies are not bound by the technical rules of procedure in the adjudication of cases, this procedural rule should not be construed as a lice se to disregard certain fundamental evidentiary rules.[264] In the instant case COMELEC refused to consider evidence that tends to "establish the probability of a fact in issue," which in this case pertains to petitioner's citizenship, claiming that it "did not and could not show bloodline to a Filipino pare t as required under jus sanguinis."[265] This, to my mind, constitutes gross misappreciation of the facts.

First and foremost, it is admitted that petitioner has typical Filipino features, with her brown eyes, low nasal bridge, black hair, oval-shaped face and height. This by itself, does not evince belief that as to her definite citizenship, but coupled with other circumstantial evidence-that she was abandoned as an infant, that the population of Iloilo in 1968 was Filipino[266] and there were not international airports in Iloilo a that time-establishes the probability the she was born of Filipino parents.

Such probability is further enhanced by the statistics obtained from the Philippine Statistics Authority, showing that 10,558,278 children (99.03%) were born to Filipino parents while 15,98 (0.07%) were born to foreigners in the Philippines from 1965 to 1975.[267] Considering that the e1ection cases require a mere preponderance of evidence,[268] then it can be reasonably concluded that petitioner has fulfilled the requirements of citizenship under the law. In the words of Justice Tuazon in Joaquin, this conclusion is not airtight but rational; never certain but plain enough to justify a fact.

The rationale for implementing this policy is simple - to require abandoned children to prove their parentage or status before they are granted protection would compound their already dire predicament. That requirement would render these unfortunate children even more vulnerable, in contravention of the declared policy of the State to "defend the right of children to assistance, including proper care an nutrition, and special protection from all forms of neglect, abuse, cruelty exploitation, and other conditions prejudicial to their development."[269]

Respondent may he considered a natural-born
citizen under the 1935 Constitution.

Having established that foundlings may be presumed citizens of the Philippines, the question now turns to whether they may be considered natural-born. I believe that this issue may be resolved by utilizing both an originalist and a functionalist approach to the interpretation of the Constitution.

Originalist v. Functionalist Interpretation

In its Memorandum, the COMELEC asserted that foundlings cannot be considered natural-born citizens in light of the principle of inclusion unius est exclusion alterius.[270] This line of reasoning stems from an originalist reading of the Constitution, which is anchored on the principle that constitutional issues are to be resolved by looking only at the text of the Constitution and at the clear intent of the framers.[271] Intentionalism is a species of originalism. Another species is textualism, which has been described as "that [which] looks to the Constitution's original public meaning,"[272] or "read[s] the language of the Constitution as the man on the street would understand it."[273]

It is a fallacy, however, to assert that there is only one - originalist/textualist - approach to interpret the Constitution. There are many approaches to constitutional interpretation, sub-classified into a) originalism v. non-originalism, and b) formalism v. functionalism, among others. In his commentary on the Philippine Constitution, Bernas enumerated and described at least five modes of constitutional interpretation, i.e. historical approach,[274] structural approach,[275] doctrinal approach,[276] ethical approach,[277] and prudential approach.[278]

In legal scholarship, the functionalist approach appears to be defined most clearly by what it is not - it is not formalism.[279] William Eskridge, a member of the Yale Law School faculty wrote a paper entitled "Relationships between Formalism and Functionalism in Separation of Powers Cases" in which he distinguished formalism from functionalism:

There are no fewer than three different ways that constitutional formalism and functionalism can be contrasted. One is their apparently different approach to legal rules and standards. Formalism might be associated with bright-line rules that seek to place determinate, readily enforceable limits on public actors. Functionalism, at least as an antipode, might be associated with standards or balancing tests that seek to provide public actors with greater flexibility.

Another way of contrasting formalism and functionalism focuses on the reasoning process by which we reach rules or standards. Formalism might be understood as deduction from authoritative constitutional text, structure, original intent, or all three working together. Functionalism might be understood as induction from constitutional policy and practice, with practice typically being examined over time. Formalist reasoning promises stability and continuity of analysis over time; functionalist reasoning promises adaptability and evolution.

Finally and relatedly, formalism and functionalism could be contrasted as emphasizing different goals for law. Formalism might be understood as giving priority to rule of law values such as transparency, predictability, and continuity in law. Functionalism, in turn, might be understood as emphasizing pragmatic values like adaptability, efficacy, and justice in law.[280]

I emphasize that this Court has utilized different approaches to interpreting the Constitution. It is not mandated to fake only an originalist view of the fundamental law. On the contrary: the Court, through Justice Jose P. Laurel, considered the 1935 Constitution to be a "living constitution.[281] This concept is said to have originated from Missouri v. Holland[282] penned by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes:

When we are dealing with words that also are a constituent act, like the Constitution of the United States, we must realize that they have called into life a being the development of which could not have been foreseen completely by the most gifted of its begetters. It was enough for them to realize or to hope that they had created an organism; it has taken a century and has cost their successors much sweat and blood to prove that they created a nation. (Emphasis supplied)

Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, in his Notion of Living Constitution,[283] ventured to say that the framers purposely couched the United States Constitution in general terms:

The framers of the Constitution wisely spoke in general language and left to succeeding generations the task of applying that language to the unceasingly changing environment in which they would live. Those who framed, adopted, and ratified the Civil War amendments to the Constitution likewise used what have been aptly described as "majestic generalities" in composing the fourteenth amendment. Merely because a particular activity may not have existed when the Constitution was adopted, or because the framers could not have conceived of a particular method of transacting affairs, cannot mean that general language in the Constitution may not be applied to such a course of conduct. Where the framers of the Constitution have used general language, they have given latitude to those who would later interpret the instrument to make that language applicable to cases that the framers might not have foreseen. (Emphasis Supplied)

Theorists utilizing the functionalist approach have likened Constitutions to animate beings that can evolve to the extent that they become hardly recognizable by their framers. In other words, they believe that the Constitution may be interpreted in a manner that goes beyond the original intent of the persons who crafted the text.

In this case, the use of both the originalist and the functionalist approaches leads to the same result - that petitioner pad sufficient reason to believe that she is a natural-born citizen despite the admitted fact that she was a foundling.

The Originalist Approach:
Interpretation in accordance with the
intent of the framers

Respondents urge the Court to resolve the citizenship issue in this case by using the originalist approach, i.e. to make an interpretation based primarily on an examination of the text and the original intent of the framers of the 1935 Constitution. They posit that there was no intent on the part of the delegates to the 1934 Constitutional Convention to consider foundlings as natural-born citizens, "for had it been so, the text of the provision would have explicitly stated it."[284] In thy opinion, this is a simplistic reading of the Constitution that disregards the intent of the framers.

Where the terms of the Constitution itself do not reveal the intent of the framers and the rest of the people, extrinsic aids may be resorted to, even when using an originalist approach. The answer may be provided by the debates or proceedings in the Constitutional Convention, the contemporaneous legislative or executive construction, history, and the effects resulting from the construction contemplated[285] Here, the records of the 1934 Constitutional Convention prove that the framers intended to accord natural-born citizenship to foundlings.

It has been argued that the non-inclusion of a provision on "natural children of a foreign father and a Filipino mother not recognized by the father" negates the intent to consider foundlings natural-born citizens (or even merely citizens). However, the Court cannot infer the absence of intent to include foundlings based on that fact alone. Indeed, the transcript of the deliberations during the 1934 Constitutional Convention shows why it was decided that foundlings were not to be expressly mentioned in Section 1, Article IV of the 1935 Constitution:

Sr. Rafols: For an amendment, I propose that after I subsection 2, the following is inserted: 'The natural children of a foreign father and a Filipino mother not recognized by the father.'

El Presidente: We would like to request a clarification from the proponent of the amendment. The gentleman refers to natural children or to any kind of illegitimate children?

Sr. Rafols: To all kinds of illegitimate children. It also includes natural children of unknown parentage, natural or illegitimate children of unknown parents.

Sr. Montinola: For clarification. The gentleman said 'of unknown parents.' Current codes consider them Filipino, that is, I refer to the Spanish Code wherein all children of unknown parentage born in Spanish territory are considered Spaniards, because the presumption is that - child of unknown parentage is the son of a Spaniard. This may be applied in the Philippines in that a child of unknown parentage born in the Philippines is deemed to be Filipino, and there is no need...

Sr. Rafols: There is a need, because we are relating the conditions that are [required] to be Filipino.

Sr. Montinola: But that is the interpretation of the law, therefore, there is no need for the amendment.

Sr. Rafols: The amendment should read thus: 'Natural or illegitimate of a foreign father and a Filipino mother recognized by one, or the children of unknown parentage.'

Sr. Briones: The amendment [should] mean children born in the Philippines of unknown parentage.

Sr. Rafols: The son of a Filipina to a foreigner, although this [person] does not recognize the child, is not unknown.

El Presidente: Does the gentleman accept the amendment or not?

Sr. Rafols: I do not accept the amendment because the amendment would exclude the children of a Filipina with a foreigner who does not recognize the child. Their parentage is not unknown and I think those children of overseas Filipino mother and father [whom the latter] does not recognize, should also be considered as Filipinos.

El Presidente: The question in order is the amendment to the amendment from the gentleman from Cebu, Mr. Briones. :

Mr. Bulson: Mr. President, don't you think it would be better to leave this matter in the hands of the Legislature? :

Sr. Roxas: Mr. President, my humble opinion is that these cases are few and far between, that the constitution need [not] refer to them. By international law the principle that children or people born in a country of unknown parents are citizens in this nation is recognized, and it is not necessary to include a provision on the subject exhaustively.

The delegates appeared to have been convince4 that there was no need to include a binding provision on the subject for the1 following reasons: the Spanish Civil Code already recognizes foundlings were born of Spanish citizens, and were thus Spanish (Sr. Montinola); that the citizenship of foundlings could be determined by Congress (Sr. Buslon); that the cases were so few and far between that the Constitution did not need to refer to them (Sr. Roxas); or international law already recognized children or people born in a country of unknown parents as citizens of that country (Sr. Roxas).

For these reasons, they believed that it was no long1er necessary to include foundlings among those to be expressly enumerated in the 1935 Constitution. The record is bereft of any proposal by any delegate to deny foundlings Filipino citizenship. It would even appear that those delegates who spoke could not imagine any other interpretation than that foundlings are to be considered Filipinos.

The textual silence on foundlings in Article IV, Section 1 is consistent with the principle that a good Constitution is brief, comprehensive, and definite.[286] The majority[287] of the delegates, being lawyers, must have subscribed to the accepted principle that the Constitution is unavoidably required to be couched in general language:

It did not suit the purposes of the people, in framing this great charter of our liberties, to provide for minute specifications of its powers or to declare the means by which those powers should be carried into execution. It was foreseen that this would be a perilous and difficult, if not an impracticable, task. The instrument was not intended to provide merely for the exigencies of a few years, but was to endure through a long lapse of ages, the events of which were locked up in the ins¢rutable purposes of Providence. It could not be foreseen what new changes and modifications of power might be indispensable to effectuate the general objects of the charter, and restrictions and specifications which at the present might seem salutary might in the end prove the overthrow of the system itself. Hence its powers are expressed in general terms, leaving to the legislature from time to time to adopt its own means to effectuate legitimate objects and to mould and model the exercise of its powers as its own wisdom and the public interests, should require.[288]

The understanding that the Constitution must be brief even as it is broad is evident in Sr. Roxas' statement during the deliberations that cases of children born of unknown parentage were so "few kind far in between, that the constitution need not refer to them." Notably, no one raised a comment or an objection in response to Delegate Roxas' remark. The framers might have also accepted, regardless of its veracity, that international law regards foundlings as citizens of the country where they were found. They may have believed, as a matter of fact, that current codes already considered children of unknown parents as Filipinos.

What is clear from the deliberations is that the framers could not have intended to place foundlings in limbo, as the social justice principle embodied in Section 5, Article II of the 1935 Constitution indiscriminately covered "all of the people." Social justice has been defined as "the humanization of laws and the equalization of social and economic forces by the State so that justice in its rational and objectively secular conception may at least be approximated."[289] It means the promotion of the welfare of all the people.[290] It is founded on the recognition of the necessity of interdependence among diverse units of a society and of the protection that should be equally and evenly extended to all groups as a combined force in our social and economic life. This recognition is consistent with the state's fundamental and paramount objective of promoting the health, comfort, and quiet of all persons and bringing about the greatest good to the greatest number.[291]

The Functionalist Approach:
Interpretation consistent with natural
justice

The issue of citizenship may also be resolved using the functional approach to constitutional interpretation. Under this method, the Court should adopt an interpretation that would allow the Constitution to fulfill its purpose.

Taking historical considerations into account, it is beyond cavil that the Constitution would not function as envisioned if we give judicial imprimatur to the COMELEC's argument. It claims that the 1935 Constitution, as well as the 1973 and 1987 constitutions, excluded foundlings from being citizens merely on the ground that they could not establish a blood relationship with a Filipino father. This interpretation would likewise go against the fundamental principle of natural justice.

Mixture of jus soli and jus sanguinis

The history of citizenship laws in the Philippines shows that we have never adopted a purely jus sanguinis regime. Ours is a mixture of elements of jus soli andjus sanguinis, which we inherited from the Americans and the Spaniards, respectively. In fact, as will be elaborated in the succeeding section, the concept of "natural-born citizenship" originated from a jus soli jurisdiction.

The COMELEC however, opines that only those whose fathers are citizens of the Philippines are considered natural-born citizens under the 1935 Constitution.[292] Citing Valles v. Comelec,[293] it argues that natural-born Philippine citizenship is acquired at the moment of birth on the basis of blood relationship.[294] This is a gross misreading of the case. The Court in Valles did say that the principle of jus sanguinis, which confers citizenship by virtue of blood relationship, was subsequently retained under the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions; however, the Court never stated that jus sanguinis had ever been the exclusive regime in this jurisdiction. On the contrary, Rosalind Lopez's father, from whom she derived her Philippine citizenship, was considered by the Court as a Philippine citizen based on his birth in Daet, Camarines Norte, in 1879, a jus soli application: of citizenship rules.

Far from adhering to an exclusively jus sanguinis regime, at least four modes of acquiring citizenship have operated in the: Philippine jurisdiction since the turn of the century: jus soli, jus sanguinis, res judicata and naturalization. Jus soli used to predominate but upon the effectivity of the 1935 Constitution,jus sanguinis became the predominating regime.[295]

Citizenship prior to the 1935 Constitution

The first Civil Code adopted in the Philippines was the Spanish Civil Code,[296] which became effective on 18 December 1889. It enumerated who were Spaniards:

Article 17. The following are Spaniards:

(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. (Emphasis supplied)

On 21 January 1899, the Malolos Constitution, which was framed by the national assembly of the first Philippine Republic, was promulgated. All persons born in the Philippine territory were considered as Filipinos:

Article 6. The following are Filipinos:

1. All persons born in the Philippine territory. A vessel of Philippine registry is considered, for this purpose, as part of Philippine territory.

2. Children of a Filipino father or mother, although born outside of the Philippines.

3. Foreigners who have obtained certification of naturalization.

4. Those who, without such certificate, have acquired a domicile in any town within Philippine territory.

It is understood that domicile is acquired by uninterrupted residence for two years in any locality within Philippine territory, with an open abode and known occupation, and contributing to all the taxes imposed by the Nation.

The condition of being a Filipino is lost in accordance with law. (Emphasis supplied)

The Malolos Constitution was short-lived and was in force only in the places were the first Philippine Republic had control On 11 April 1899, the Treaty of Paris between Spain and America took effect. Justice Jose C. Vitug, in Tecson v. Comelec[297] implied that between 10 December 1898 when the parties entered into the treaty and 11 April 1899, when it took effect, Spanish civil law remained intact.[298]

The term "citizens of the Philippine Islands" was introduced a few years later through Section 4 of the Philippine Bill of 1902:

Section 4. That all inhabitants of the Philippine Islands continuing to reside therein who were Spanish subjects on the eleventh clay of April, eighteen hundred and ninety-nine, and then resided in said Philippine 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.

Under the Philippine Bill, a citizen of the Philippines was one who was an inhabitant of the Philippines and a Spanish subject on 11 April 1899. The term inhabitant was taken to include 1) a native-born inhabitant; 2) an inhabitant who was a native of Peninsular Spain; or 3) an inhabitant who obtained Spanish papers on or before 11 April 1899.[299]

Controversy arose on the status of children born in the Philippines from 11 April 1899 to 1 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 governed those born in the Philippine Archipelago within that period.[300] Jus soli was also known as the principle of territoriality, which was operative in the United States and England.

In 1916, the Philippine Autonomy Act, also known as the Jones Law, restated virtually the provisions of the Philippine Bill: of 1902 as amended by the Act of Congress in 1912:[301]

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 ;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, native-born inhabitants of the Philippines were deemed to be citizens of the Philippines as of 11 April 1899 if they were (1) subjects of Spain on 11 April 1899; (2) residing in the Philippines on that date; and (3) since that date, not citizens of some other country.[302]

Citizenship under the 1935, 1973 and 1987
Constitutions

Article IV, Section 1 of the 1935 Constitution provides:

Section 1. 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.

2. Those born in the Philippine 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.

Items 1 and 4 of the foregoing section show that the 1935 Constitution was not based purely on the jus sanguinis principle. Taking into account the history of our citizenship provisions, the phrase "those who were citizens of the Philippine Islands at the time of the adoption of this Constitution" clearly included those who did not have a single drop of Filipino blood in them. Moreover, "those born in the Philippine Islands of foreign parents who, before the adoption of this Constitution, had been elected to public office" were also automatically considered citizens despite the fact that they were of foreign blood.

Significantly, the provisions of Section 1 (1) of Article IV of the 1935 Constitution were carried over to the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions.[303] The only difference was the reference to the country as Philippines instead of "Philippine Islands."

Considering the mixture of citizenship regimes currently in force, it is not correct to say that there is an exclusive jus sanguinis principle in place, and because of that principle, that petitioner is thereby required, regardless of the fact that she is a foundling, to submit proof of her blood relationship to a Filipino father. To rule otherwise would be to implement a purely jus sanguinis regime contrary to the history of the Constitution.

Functionality in accord with natural justice

As previously explained, the Constitution is meant to advance the fundamental values of the Filipino people, in particular, those articulated in the Preamble: the promotion of general welfare;[304] the creation of a just and humane society;[305] and the protection of the blessings of independence and democracy under a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality, and peace in accordance with the rule of law.[306] The Constitution must be interpreted to allow it to function in accordance with these ideals. Thus, the Court should not construe the citizenship provisions of the 1935 Constitution in a manner that would unjustly deprive foundlings of citizenship and render them stateless.

To emphasize, from the time that the Supreme Court was vested with the power to interpret the law, We have exercised this power in accordance with what is right and just. Citizenship cases are no exception. In previous cases, the Court has in fact interpreted the law on citizenship in accordance with natural justice.

In Roa v. Collector,[307] We have assumed that the principle of jus soli was applicable. This assumption was affirmed in Torres v. Tan Chim[308] and Gallofin v. Ordonez,[309] in which this Court held that the principle of jus soli was followed with reference to individuals who were born of Chinese fathers and Filipino mothers.[310]

In Talaroc v. Uy,[311] We held that in making jus sanguinis the predominating principle in the determination of Philippine citizenship, the Constitution did not intend to exclude those who were citizens of the Philippines by judicial declaration at the time of its adoption. We ruled that if, on the strength of Roa, a person was considered al full-fledged Philippine citizen on the date of the adoption of the Constitution when jus soli was the prevailing doctrine, that person cannot be divested of Filipino citizenship.[312] The Court also stated that "it would be neither fair nor good policy to hold Uy an alien after he had exercised the privileges of citizenship in the face of legal principles that have the force of law."[313]

The principles of natural justice were also utilized in other cases to avoid an unfair outcome. In Sale de Porkan v. Yatco,[314] We upheld the validity of a contract over a parcel of land in favor of a "non-Christian inhabitant of the Department of Mindanao and Sulu." The contract was considered valid despite the lack of approval by the provincial governor of the province where the contract was executed as mandated by the Administrative Code of Mindanao and Sulu. The Court held:

But if the contract, Exhibit B, is avoided, the result would be just the contrary, for the non-Christian plaintiff-appellant here would be divested of ownership over the houses which were ceded to him by C de S and which he now possesses. This would defeat the legislative aim and purpose, destroy substantial equities, and thwart the postulates of natural justice.

In Van Dorn v. Romillo,[315] We also prevented injustice by freeing a Filipino woman from her marital obligations after she had been divorced by her foreigner husband:

To maintain, as private respondent does, that, under our laws, petitioner has to be considered still married to private respondent and still subject to a wife's obligations under Article 109, et. seq. of the Civil Code cannot be just. Petitioner should not be obliged to live together with, observe respect and fidelity, and render support to private respondent. The latter should not continue to be one of her heirs with possible rights to conjugal property. She should not be discriminated against in her own country if the ends of justice are to be served.

Concept of "natural-born" citizenship

The requirement of natural-born citizenship should serve only to deny certain privileges to those who have gone through the process of naturalization in order to acquire and perfect their citizenship. The concept, originally meant to distinguish those who are "natural-born" from those who are "foreign-born" in jus soli jurisdictions, cannot: be used to justify the denial of citizenship status to foundlings because of their inability to prove a certain blood relationship.

"Natural-born" citizenship and jus soli

An examination of the origin of the term "natural-born" reveals that it was lifted by the Philippines from the United States (U.S.) Constitution, which states:

No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of the President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.[316] (Capitalization in the original)

The U.S. Constitution itself does not define the term. However, numerous holdings and references in federal and state cases have clearly indicated that those born in the United States and subject to its jurisdiction (i.e., not born to foreign diplomats or to occupying military forces), even if they were born to alien parents, are citizens "at birth" or "by birth," and are "natural born," as opposed to "naturalized," U.S. citizens.[317]

As a matter of inclusion, it has been held that it is beyond dispute that anyone born on American soil with an American parent is a "natural born citizen."[318] As a matter of exclusion, anyone whose citizenship is acquired after birth as a result of "naturalization" is not a "natural born citizen."[319] The meaning of the natural-born citizen clause became politically salient in the U.S. when John McCain became the Republican nominee for President in September of 2008. He was born in the Panama Canal Zone to parents who were American citizens.[320]

The phrase "natural-born citizen" found its way to America from England. While there had been no extensive usage of the phrase during the founding era of the US (1774-1797), it seems clear that it was derived from "natural born subject," which had a technical meaning in English law and constitutional theory.[321] The framers of the US Constitution would have been familiar with Blackstone's Commentaries - which James Madison (hailed as the "Father of the Constitution") described as "a book which is in every man's hand" - and would have understood that the fundamental premise of natural-born citizenship was a concept of allegiance to the sovereign at birth.[322]

Indeed, the English lexicographer Samuel Johnson defined "natural" as "native," which may mean either an "inhabitant" or an "offspring."[323] The conception of natural- born subjects under British law is tied to that of natural allegiance to a sovereign. This conception is based primarily on being born within the territory subject to the sovereign's rule, but with the addition of others (such as the children of ambassadors or of the sovereigns themselves) who have a "natural allegiance" to the sovereign.

Blackstone writes:

The first and most obvious division of the people is into aliens and natural-born subjects. Natural-born subjects are such as are born within the dominions of the crown of England, that is, within the ligeance, or as it is generally called, the allegiance of the king; and aliens, such as are born out of it. Allegiance is the tie, or ligamen, which binds the subject to the king, in return for that protection which the king affords the subject. The thing itself, or substantial part of it, is founded in reason and the nature of government; the name and the form are derived to us from our Gothic ancestors.

x x x x

Allegiance, both express and implied, is however distinguished by the law into two sorts or species, the one natural, the other local; the former being also perpetual, the latter temporary. Natural allegiance is such as is due from all men born within the king's dominions immediately upon their birth. For, immediately upon their birth, they are under the king's protection; at a time too, when (during their infancy) they are incapable of protecting themselves.

x x x x

When I say, that an alien is one who is born out of the king's dominions, or allegiance, this also must be understood with some restrictions. The common law indeed stood absolutely so; with only a very few exceptions: so that a particular act of parliament became necessary after the restoration, for the naturalization of children of his majesty's English subjects, born in foreign countries during the late troubles. And this maxim of the law proceeded upon a general principle, that every man owes natural allegiance where he is born, and cannot owe two such allegiances, or serve two masters, at once. Yet the children of the king's ambassadors born abroad were always held to be natural subjects: for as the father, though in a foreign country, owes not even a local allegiance to the prince to whom he is sent; so, with regard to the son also, he was held (by a kind of postliminium) to be born under the king of England's allegiance, represented by his father, the ambassador.[324] (Emphasis supplied)

Based on the foregoing, it appears that the original opposite of the term "natural-born" is not "naturalized," but "foreign-born." The term was meant to distinguish between those born within a certain territory and those born outside it. Blood or descent was irrelevant. However, because of the mixture of common law and civil law in our jurisdiction, the original concept of natural-born citizenship seems to have been diluted.

Citizens by Birth v. Citizens by
Naturalization

Irrespective of the origin of the concept, the term "natural-born" was used by the framers of the 1935, 1973 and 1987 Constitutions to delineate the privileges of those who are citizens at birth, from those enjoyed by citizens who are naturalized.

The word "natural-born" appeared thrice in the 1935 Constitution as a qualification for the presidency and vice-presidency, as well as membership in the Senate and House of Representatives.[325] The framers of the 1935 Constitution, however, did not define the term.

In their commentary on the 1935 Constitution, Tañada and Fernando opined that the requirement that a person be a natural-born citizen may be interpreted to mean that at the time of birth, the candidate was a Filipino citizen; naturalized citizens are excluded.[326] Proceeding from this logic, citizens who did not acquire their Philippine citizenship through naturalization have the citizenship qualification to run for the presidency.

The statements in these commentaries are supported by the deliberations of the framers of the 1935 Constitution. During the 1934 Constitutional Convention, Delegate Alejandrino proposed to limit eligibility for the presidency and vice-presidency only to Filipino citizens born in the Philippines of parents who were not naturalized.[327] This proposal was shot down. It must be noted, though, that he referred to parents who were "not naturalized," instead of those who were "natural-born." It may be inferred that the framers of the 1935 Constitution only intended to exclude those citizens who had been naturalized from occupying certain positions. Another section of the deliberations proceeded in this manner:

Delegate Artadi. - I am going to ask a reconsideration with respect to the matter appearing on page 22-A which treats of the interpretation of the words, 'natural-born,' because I would like to inform the Assembly that I have had a conversation with some members of the committee ... and they explained to me that the words, 'natural-born,' do not necessarily mean 'born in the Philippines;' that is to say, translated into Spanish, they mean that one who possesses all the qualifications to be President of the republic, as it is written, is not necessarily born in the Philippines. So that for purposes of the record, I would like one of the members of the committee to explain the true interpretation of the words, 'natural-born,' for the information of the Assembly.

The President. - The delegate from Capiz, Mr. Roxas, may please tell what is the exact equivalent of those words.

Delegate Roxas. - Mr. President, the phrase, 'natural-born citizen' appears in the Constitution of the United States; but the authors say that this phrase has never been authoritatively interpreted by the Supreme Court of the United States in view of the fact that there has never been raised the question of whether or not an elected President fulfilled this condition. The authors are uniform in the fact that the words, 'natural-born citizen,' means a citizen by birth, a person who is a citizen by reason of his birth, and not by naturalization or by a further declaration required by law for citizenship. In the Philippines, for example, under the provisions of the article on citizenship which we have approved, all those born of a father who is a Filipino citizen, be they persons born in the Philippines or outside, would be citizens by birth or natural-born.

And with respect to one born of a Filipino mother but of a foreign father, the article which we approved about citizenship requires that, upon reaching the age of majority, this child needs to indicate the citizenship which he prefers, and if he elects Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority, then he shall be considered a Filipino citizen. According to this interpretation, the child of a Filipino mother with a foreign father would not be a citizen by birth, because the law or the Constitution requires that he make a further declaration after his birth. Consequently, the phrase, 'natural-born citizen,' as it is used in the English text means a Filipino citizen by birth, regardless of where he was born.[328] (Emphasis supplied)

The requirement of "natural-born" citizenship was carried over to the 1973 Constitution[329] and then to the present Constitution.[330] Confirming the original vision of the framers of the 193 5 Constitution, the 1973 Constitution defined the term as "one who is a citizen of the Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect his Philippine citizenship."[331] The 1973 definition was adopted in the present Constitution, with the added proviso that those who elect Philippine citizenship in accordance with paragraph (3),[332] Section 1 of Article IV, shall be deemed natural-born citizens:

Art. IV, 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 shall be deemed natural-born citizens.

Since the term was defined in the negative, it is evident that the term "natural-born citizens" refers to those who do not have to perform any act to acquire or perfect their Philippine citizenship. The definition excludes only those who are naturalized. From this interpretation, it may be inferred that a Filipino citizen who did not undergo the naturalization process is natural-born. As We explained in Bengson III v. House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal:[333]

A citizen who is not a naturalized Filipino, i.e., did not have to undergo the process of naturalization to obtain Philippine citizenship, necessarily is a natural-born Filipino. Noteworthy is the absence in said enumeration of a separate category for persons who, after losing Philippine citizenship, subsequently reacquire it. The reason therefor is clear: as to such persons, they would either be natural-born or naturalized depending on the reasons for the loss of their citizenship and the mode prescribed by the applicable law for the reacquisition thereof.

In Bengson, We also ruled that private respondent regained his status as a natural-born citizen the moment he reacquired his Filipino citizenship through repatriation. That part of the Decision will be discussed in further detail in the succeeding sections.

Not Purity of Blood

Naturalized citizens are former aliens or foreigners who had to undergo a rigid procedure, in which they had to adduce sufficient evidence to prove that they possessed all the qualifications and none of the disqualifications to become Filipino citizens as provided by law.[334] In contrast, as stated in the early case Roa v. Collector of Customs,[335] a natural-born citizen is a one who has become such at the moment of birth.

It may be observed from the exchanges during the deliberations on the qualifications of members of the Supreme Court that the concern about the natural-born requirement was not all about the questionable allegiance of those without Filipino blood, but of those born abroad of Filipino parents. Delegate Lim expressed his understanding that the requirement was for the President to be "native-born," and his reservations about installing as magistrates those who are not familiar with the "idiosyncrasies of the people:"

How can we figure out that naturalized citizens could really interpret the purposes of this Constitution including the idiosyncrasies of the people? We have as a matter of policy adopted the principle that the President of the Commonwealth should be a native born. Our Supreme Court in some instances has the power much bigger than that of the President by declaring our laws passed by the National Assembly as unconstitutional. That power makes the Supreme Court the supreme interpreter of our laws of the land, and who else but native born persons, individuals who have been born in the country, can interpret, as I said, the customs and habits of our people?[336]

It must be emphasized that natural-born status was never intended to be a measure of the purity of blood. This Court, on reconsideration in Tan Chong,[337] explained why birth alone may not be sufficient basis for the acquisition of citizenship. Some of the important elements that would make a person living in a country its citizen: youth spent in the country; intimate and endearing association with the citizens among whom they live; knowledge and pride of the country's past; belief in the greatness and security of its institutions, in the loftiness of its ideas, and in the ability of the country's government to protect them, their children and their earthy possessions against perils from within and from without; and their readiness to defend the country against those perils.[338]

In the same manner, blood relationship alone is not controlling.[339] The following groups of people, who technically have no "Filipino blood," were effectively considered citizens by virtue of Commonwealth Act No. 473 or the "Revised Naturalization Law":

Section 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 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. (Emphasis supplied)

A necessary implication of the above provision is that children born within the Philippines after the naturalization of their parent are unqualifiedly citizens of the country. This implication holds true even if the naturalized parent is purely of foreign blood. Moreover, because they do not need to perform any act to acquire Philippine citizenship, they must be considered natural-born citizens by definition.

Like foundlings, these groups are not expressly mentioned in the Constitution. However, by implication of law, they are considered natural-born citizens despite the absence of a single drop of Filipino blood in them. From this fact, one can draw no other conclusion: that the natural-born classification has nothing to do with bloodline or birthright.

Foundling not "naturalized in accordance with law"

It has been argued that a foundling may obtain only naturalized citizenship, because an act is supposedly required to acquire this status, i.e., the registration of the child as a foundling after an administrative proceeding. In other words, it is contended that the process of registration effectively amounts to naturalization in accordance with law. This contention is unacceptable for three reasons.

First, the phrase "naturalized in accordance with law" must be understood with reference to the naturalization process provided under naturalization statutes. In several decisions, this Court has construed the meaning of the expression "in accordance with law" as an allusion to enabling legislation.[340] Hence, naturalization in Article IV, Section 1 of the 1935 Constitution, does not refer to just any act, but to the specific procedure for naturalization prescribed by the legislature. The Court does not have the right to engage in judicial legislation on naturalization when the Constitution exclusively vests said power in Congress.

Second, registration is not an act that can be attributed to a foundling. Pursuant to Section 5 of Act No. 3752,[341] the person who finds an abandoned child shall report the place, date and hour of finding and other attendant circumstances to the local civil registrar for purposes of registration. This prescribed act is in sharp contrast to the naturalization process provided under the Revised Naturalization Law,[342] which requires the applicants to themselves personally and voluntarily perform certain acts to avail of naturalized citizenship. In particular, applicants are required to (a) file a declaration under oath their bona fide intention to become a citizen of the Philippines;[343] (b) file a petition for citizenship with a competent court;[344] (c) participate in a hearing before a competent court;[345] and (d) take an oath of allegiance to the Philippines.[346] Needless to state, foundlings do not perform acts equivalent to any of these when they are registered. More often than not, they are not aware of their circumstances when they are being registered as foundlings.

Third, it is possible to register a foundling by reporting the circumstances of the discovery to the local civil registrar without any administrative proceeding, if the registration is done prior to the surrender of the custody of the child to the DSWD or an institution.[347] It is only when the child is turned over to the DSWD without having been registered with the local civil registrar that an administrative proceeding is required prior to the issuance of a Foundling Certificate.[348] If a child is already registered by the finder, the administrative proceeding under the Rules of the DSWD[349] is followed not for the purpose of allowing that registration, but only to determine whether the child may be declared legally available for adoption.

Petitioner did not lose her natural-born
status when she reacquired Philippine
citizenship under R.A. 9225.

Respondents also question the reacquisition by petitioner of her citizenship under R.A. 9225 or the Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003. They claim that only natural-born citizens are allowed to reacquire citizenship under the law. Since petitioner is allegedly not a citizen of the Philippines, she is not entitled to this privilege.

The premise of petitioner's argument has already been extensively addressed above. For reasons previously explained, petitioner may be considered a natural-born citizen; hence, she may validly reacquire her citizenship under R.A. 9225. The other arguments raised by respondents are addressed below.

Adoption Decree and Amended Birth
Certificate

In my view, petitioner was entitled to rely upon the adoption decree issued in her favor and the amended birth certificate issued pursuant thereto. These documents named Fernando Poe, Jr. and Susan Roces, and no other, as her parents for all intents and purposes. Her reliance on these documents justifies her belief that she is a natural-born citizen entitled to avail herself of the provisions of R.A. 9225.

It must be emphasized that adoption severs all legal ties between the biological parents and the adoptee and vests those rights in the adopter.[350] Section 17 of R.A. 8552, in particular, provides that the "adoptee shall be considered the legitimate son/daughter of the adopter for all intents and purposes and as such is entitled to all the rights and obligations provided by law to legitimate sons/daughter born to them without discrimination of any kind." Hence, upon the entry of an adoption decree, the law creates a relationship in which adopted children are deemed "born of" their adoptive parents:

... The act of adoption fixes a status, viz., that of parent and child. More technically, it is an act by which relations of paternity and affiliation are recognized as legally existing between persons not so related by nature. It has been defined as the taking into one's family of the child of another as son or daughter and heir and conferring on it a title to the rights and privileges of such. The purpose of an adoption proceeding is to effect this new status of relationship between the child and its adoptive parents, the change of name which frequently accompanies adoption being more an incident than the object of the proceeding. The welfare of the child is the primary consideration in the determination of an application for adoption. On this part, there is unanimous agreement.

It is the usual effect of a decree of adoption to transfer from the natural parents to the adoptive parents the custody of the child's person, the duty of obedience owing by the child, and all other legal consequences and incidents of the natural relation, in the same manner as if the child had been born of such adoptive parents in lawful wedlock, subject, however, to such limitations and restrictions as may be by statute imposed.[351] (Emphasis supplied)

As proof of this new relationship, an adoptee's original birth certificate is cancelled and sealed in the records of the Civil Registry. Thereafter, an amended birth certificate is issued in its place "attesting to the fact that the adoptee is the child of the adopter(s)"[352] This amended certificate is issued without any notation that it is new or amended.[353] Once issued, this document has the same legal effect as any other birth certificate, and is entitled to a presumption of validity as a public document.[354]

Evidently, to require adoptees to go beyond the parentage established in their birth certificates would defeat the purpose of R.A. 8552 in requiring courts and other institutions to seal adoption records, including the child's original birth certificate, and to maintain the confidentiality of those papers.[355]

By these provisions, the legislature clearly intended to protect the privacy of the parties to the adoption, thereby allowing them to avoid the stigma resulting from the proceedings. The rationale behind these confidentiality provisions was elucidated by the U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, in Alma Society Incorporated v. Mellon.[356] In that decision, which was later affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court,[357] the U.S. Court of Appeals explained:

Judged by these standards, the New York sealed record statutes do not want constitutional validity. The statutes, we think, serve important interests. New York Domestic Relations Law s 114 and its related statutes represent a considered legislative judgment that the confidentiality statutes promote the social policy underlying adoption laws. See In re Anonymous, 89 Misc.2d 132, 133, 390 N.Y.S.2d 779, 781 (Surr.Ct.1976). Originally, sealing adoption records was discretionary with the court, 1924 N.Y. Laws, ch. 323, s 113, but in 1938 confidentiality of adoption records became mandatory. 1938 N.Y. Laws, ch. 606 s 114. As late as 1968, the legislature enacted various amendments to increase the assurance of confidentiality. 1968 N.Y. Laws, ch. 1038. Moreover, the purpose of a related statute, Section 4138 of the Public Health Laws, was to erase the stigma of illegitimacy from the adopted child's life by sealing his original birth certificate and issuing a new one under his new surname. And the major purpose of adoption legislation is to encourage natural parents to use the process when they are unwilling or unable to care for their offspring. New York has established a careful legislative scheme governing when adoption may occur and providing for judicial review, to encourage and facilitate the social policy of placing children in permanent loving homes when a natural family breaks up. As the court of appeals stated in Scarpetta v. Spence-Chapin Adoption Service, 28 N.Y.2d 185, 195, 321 N.Y.S.2d 65, 73, Cert. denied, 404 U.S. 805, 321 N.Y.S.2d 65, 269 N.E.2d 787 (1971), "(i)t cannot be doubted that the public policy of our State is contrary to the disclosure of the names and identities of the natural parents and prospective adoptive parents to each other." (Footnote omitted.) Forty-two other states, according to the State of New York, require that birth and adoption records be kept confidential, indicating the importance of the matter of confidentiality. See also Uniform Adoption Act (U.L.A.) s 16(2) (rev. 1969) (adoption records "are subject to inspection only upon consent of the Court and all interested persons; or in exceptional cases, only upon an order of the Court for good cause shown"). These significant legislative goals clearly justify the State's decision to keep the natural parents' names secret from adopted persons but not from non-adopted persons. (Emphasis supplied)

Applicability of Bengson v. HRET

As to whether petitioner also reacquired her natural-born status, the Court must apply the ruling in Bengson III v. HRET,[358] which allowed the applicant to reacquire not only his citizenship, but also his original natural-born status. In that case, the Court noted that those who reacquire Philippine citizenship must be considered natural-born or naturalized citizens, since the Constitution does not provide a separate category for them. Between the two categories, the Court found it more appropriate to consider them natural-born citizens, since they were not required to go through the tedious naturalization procedure provided under the law:

The present Constitution, however, now considers those born of Filipino mothers before the effectivity of the 1973 Constitution and who elected Philippine citizenship upon reaching the majority age as natural-born. After defining who are natural-born citizens, Section 2 of Article IV adds a sentence: "Those who elect Philippine citizenship in accordance with paragraph (3), Section 1 hereof shall be deemed natural-born citizens." Consequently, only naturalized Filipinos are considered not natural-born citizens. It is apparent from the enumeration of who are citizens under the present Constitution that there are only two classes of citizens: (1) those who are natural-born and (2) those who are naturalized in accordance with law. A citizen who is not a naturalized Filipino, i.e., did not have to undergo the process of naturalization to obtain Philippine citizenship, necessarily is a natural-born Filipino. Noteworthy is the absence in said enumeration of a separate category for persons who, after losing Philippine citizenship, subsequently reacquire it. The reason therefor is clear: as to such persons, they would either be natural-born or naturalized depending on the reasons for the loss of their citizenship and the mode prescribed by the applicable law for the reacquisition thereof. As private respondent Cruz was not required by law to go through naturalization proceedings in order to reacquire his citizenship, he is perforce a natural-born Filipino. As such, he possessed all the necessary qualifications to be elected as member of the House of Representatives.

Although Bengson referred to R.A. 2630 or the repatriation of persons who served in the U.S. Armed Forces,[359] a similar process is undergone by those who reacquire citizenship under R.A. 9225. In previous cases, this Court has also consistently characterized R.A. 9225 as a "repatriation" statute[360] that allows former Filipino citizens to recover their natural-born status.[361]

Accordingly, the logic used by this Court in Bengson also applies to this case - the procedure provided by R.A. 9225 does not amount to naturalization; consequently, a citizen who reacquires citizenship under this statute cannot be deemed naturalized.

Determination of natural-born status at birth

When R.A. 9225 provides for the loss, reacquisition and retention of citizenship, it refers only to the fact of citizenship, not natural-born status:

Section 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.

Section 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 re-acquired 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. (Emphasis supplied)

These provisions are consistent with Article IV,[362] Section 2 of the 1935 Constitution, which indicates that what may be lost or reacquired is Philippine citizenship and not natural-born status. These terms were carried over into the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions.

The precise character of the citizenship reacquired under the law was no longer made an issue in these provisions, because natural-born status is determined at the time of birth.[363] This characteristic cannot be changed, unless an individual undergoes naturalization in any of the instances provided by law.[364] As will be explained below, the procedure for the reacquisition of citizenship under R.A. 9225 does not amount to naturalization.

Reacquisition is not naturalization

It has been argued that the taking of an oath under R.A. 9225, as petitioner has done, should be considered as an "act to acquire or perfect citizenship" under Section 2, Article IV of the present Constitution. As previously discussed, however, there are only two classes of citizens under the Constitution - those who are natural-born and those who are naturalized. The "act" adverted to in the Constitution must therefore be understood as pertaining only to the act of naturalization.

The 1935, 1973, and 1987 Constitutions conferred on Congress the power to determine who are naturalized citizens:

1935 CONSTITUTION
ARTICLE IV
Citizenship

Section 1. The following are citizens of the Philippines:

xxxx

(5) Those who are naturalized in accordance with law. (Emphasis supplied)

1973 CONSTITUTION
ARTICLE III
Citizenship

Section 1. The following are citizens of the Philippines:

xxxx

(4) Those who are naturalized in accordance with law. (Emphasis supplied)

1987 CONSTITUTION
ARTICLE IV
Citizenship

Section 1. The following are citizens of the Philippines:

x x x x

(4) Those who are naturalized in accordance with law. (Emphasis supplied)

In compliance with this constitutional mandate, Congress enacted the required enabling statute in 1939 when it passed Commonwealth Act No. 473 or the Revised Naturalization Law. This piece of legislation identifies those who are to be considered naturalized citizens of the country, and it is not the province of the Court to encroach upon this legislative prerogative. Accordingly, we cannot unilaterally declare those who have availed themselves of the benefits of R.A. 9225 and similar laws as naturalized citizens. To do so would violate the principle of separation of powers.

It must be emphasized that R.A. 9225 merely discusses the retention and reacquisition of citizenship, not naturalization. As early as 1936, Congress already treated naturalization as a different species apart from repatriation and other modes that may later be introduced by the national assembly:

Section. 2. How citizenship may be reacquired. - Citizenship may be reacquired:

(1) By naturalization: Provided, That the applicant possess none of the disqualification's prescribed in section two of Act Numbered Twenty-nine hundred and twenty-seven,

2) By repatriation of deserters of the Army, Navy or Air Corp: Provided, That a woman who lost her citizenship by reason of her marriage to an alien may be repatriated in accordance with the provisions of this Act after the termination of the marital status; and

(3) By direct act of the National Assembly.[365]

The reacquisition and retention of citizenship under R.A. 9225 or R.A. 2630[366] and repatriation under R.A. 8171[367] are different from naturalization under C.A. 473. Reacquisition, retention, and repatriation are effected by merely taking the necessary oath of allegiance and registering in the proper civil registry (and in the Bureau of Immigration in accordance with R.A. 8171). On the other hand, naturalization is a tedious process that begins with the filing of a declaration of intention one year prior to filing a petition for admission to Philippine citizenship and ends with the issuance of a certificate of naturalization.

Here, petitioner did not have to undergo the process of naturalization in order to reacquire her Philippine citizenship. She only had to follow the procedure specified in R.A. 9225. In this light, to declare her a naturalized citizen would thus be contrary to law.

To refuse to recognize foundlings as
citizens of the Philippines is to
contravene our obligations under
existing international law
.

The Philippines is obligated by existing customary and conventional international law to recognize the citizenship of foundlings.

Customary International Law

Petitioner asserts that international law in the 1930s granted a foundling the right to acquire a nationality "from birth." In my opinion, she has not presented sufficient evidence to prove that in 1935, the Philippines was bound by customary international law to recognize foundlings as Philippine citizens.

It must be remembered that norms of customary international law become binding on the Philippines as part of the law of the land by virtue of the Incorporation Clause in the Constitution.[368] For incorporation to occur, however, two elements[369] must be established: (a) widespread and consistent practice on the part of states; and (b) a psychological element known as the opinio Juris sive necessitatis or a belief on the part of states that the practice in question is rendered obligatory by the existence of a rule of law requiring it.[370] For evident reasons, a statement made by one of the framers of the 1935 Constitution and the Hague Convention cannot, by themselves, prove widespread state practice or opinio Juris. Without more, We cannot declare the existence of a binding norm of customary international law granting citizenship to foundlings in 1935.

I believe, however, that this customary norm exists in international law at present. Although matters of citizenship were traditionally considered to be within the exclusive jurisdiction of states, contemporary developments indicate that their powers in this area are now "circumscribed by their obligations to ensure the full protection of human rights."[371] In particular, the right of children to acquire a nationality is enshrined in a number of international[372] and regional[373] conventions. The presumption of citizenship accorded to foundlings in a state's territory is specifically mentioned in three conventions: the 1930 Hague Convention,[374] the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness[375] and the European Convention on Nationality.[376] These treaties, concurred in by various state parties,[377] show that on the part of the members of the international community, there is widespread recognition of the right to nationality of children in general and foundlings in particular.

As important as these international instruments are the actions of states in their own domestic spheres. The International Court of Justice itself has considered national legislation as sufficient evidence of state practice.[378] In this case, a survey of the citizenship laws of 189 countries all over the world reveals that 165 of these nations consider foundlings as citizens by operation of law. Twenty-three of these states[379] grant citizenship to foundlings in observance of the jus soli principle, or the general grant of citizenship to all individuals born within their territory. Meanwhile, one hundred forty-two countries[380] have enacted foundling statutes to grant citizenship to a child found in their territories if the parents are unknown, unless there is proof to the contrary. Depending on the rule followed by the state, the foundling is presumed either to have been born in the territory[381] or to have been born to citizens of the state.[382]

That states have agreed to be bound by these obligations under various conventions and have even enacted domestic legislation to fulfill their responsibilities under the law of nations indicates their recognition of the binding character of this norm. These acts demonstrate the opinio Juris of those states, i.e., their recognition that the grant of nationality to foundlings is obligatory under international law.[383]

In view of the concurrence of these two elements, it is evident that a rule requiring states to accord citizenship to foundlings has crystallized into a customary norm. The Philippines is therefore bound at present to act in compliance with these obligations.

The ICCPR and the CRC

As a state party to the ICCPR[384] and the CRC,[385] the Philippines is also obligated to respect the right of every child to acquire a nationality. While these treaties ostensibly pertain only to a "right to acquire" a nationality, this right has been interpreted as the duty of a state to "grant nationality," particularly where there is a link only with the state on whose territory the child was born. As the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Committee explained:

64. Regardless of the general rules which govern acquisition of nationality, States should ensure that safeguards are in place to ensure that nationality is not denied to persons with relevant links to that State who would otherwise be stateless. This is of particular relevance in two situations, at birth and upon State succession. As regards the right to acquire a nationality under article 24, paragraph 3, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Human Rights Committee stated that "States are required to adopt every appropriate measure ... to ensure that every child has a nationality when he is born". In this context, birth on the territory of a State and birth to a national are the most important criteria used to establish the legal bond of nationality. Where there is only a link with the State on whose territory the child was born, this State must grant nationality as the person can rely on no other State to ensure his or her right to acquire a nationality and would otherwise be stateless. Indeed, if nationality is not granted in such circumstances then article 24, paragraph 3, of the International Covenant as well as article 7 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child would otherwise be meaningless. In concrete terms, the circumstance referred to above may arise, for example, where a child is born on the territory of a State to stateless parents or with respect to foundlings. Given the consequences to the children concerned, denial of nationality in such instances must be deemed arbitrary.[386] (Emphasis supplied)

In its Concluding Observations on Fiji's compliance with the CRC, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child likewise directed states to take all measures to avoid statelessness in compliance with their obligations under Article 7 of the CRC:

The Committee takes note of article 7 of the Citizens Decree, which stipulates that any infant found abandoned in Fiji is deemed to have been born in Fiji unless there is evidence to the contrary. However, the Committee is concerned that this stipulation might carry a risk of statelessness for children of whom it can be proven that they have not been born in Fiji, but whose nationality can nevertheless not be established. [...] The Committee recommends that the State party take all the necessary measures to avoid a child found abandoned in Fiji being stateless.[387]

Considering these international norms, it is the obligation of the Philippines not only to grant nationality to foundlings, but also to ensure that none of them are arbitrarily deprived of their nationality. Needless to state, the Court cannot interpret the Constitution in a manner contrary to these obligations. We cannot sanction a violation of international law.

A declaration that foundlings are stateless
persons would have unconscionable
consequences.

The duty of the Court to interpret the Constitution is impressed with the equally vital obligation to ensure that the fundamental law serves the ends of justice and promotes the common good. After all, the Constitution is meant to be the legal embodiment of these values, and to be the people's instrument for the protection of existing natural rights and basic human liberties. As Chief Justice Reynato Puno explained in his Separate Opinion in Republic v. Sandiganbayan:

But while the constitution guarantees and protects the fundamental rights of the people, it should be stressed that it does not create them. As held by many of the American Revolution patriots, "liberties do not result from charters; charters rather are in the nature of declarations of pre-existing rights." John Adams, one of the patriots, claimed that natural rights are founded "in the frame of human nature, rooted in the constitution of the intellect and moral world." Thus, it is said of natural rights vis-a-vis the constitution:

. . . (t)hey exist before constitutions and independently of them. Constitutions enumerate such rights and provide against their deprivation or infringement, but do not create them. It is supposed that all power, all rights, and all authority are vested in the people before they form or adopt a constitution. By such an instrument, they create a government, and define and limit the powers which the constitution is to secure and the government respect. But they do not thereby invest the citizens of the commonwealth with any natural rights that they did not before possess. (Italics supplied)

A constitution is described as follows:

A Constitution is not the beginning of a community, nor the origin of private rights; it is not the fountain of law, nor the incipient state of government; it is not the cause, but consequence, of personal and political freedom; it grants no rights to the people, but is the creature of their power, the instrument of their convenience. Designed for their protection in the enjoyment of the rights and powers which they possessed before the Constitution was made, it is but the framework of the political government, and necessarily based upon the preexisting condition of laws, rights, habits and modes of thought. There is nothing primitive in it; it is all derived from a known source. It presupposes an organized society, law, order, propriety, personal freedom, a love of political liberty, and enough of cultivated intelligence to know how to guard against the encroachments of tyranny.[388] (Citations omitted and emphasis supplied)

I believe that disputes involving the Constitution must be resolved with these precepts in mind. As the Constitution is no ordinary legal document, this Court should strive to give meaning to its provisions not only with reference to its text or the original intention of its framers. Behind the text are the ideals and aspirations of the Filipino people - their intent to "promote the general welfare;"[389] to "build a just and humane society;"[390] and to "secure the blessings of independence and democracy under the rule of law and a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality, and peace."[391] Any construction that would derogate from these fundamental values cannot be countenanced.

In this case, a declaration that foundlings are natural-born citizens are unconscionable. First, such a declaration would effectively render all children of unknown parentage stateless and would place them in a condition of extreme vulnerability.[392] As citizenship is "nothing less than the right to have rights,"[393] its deprivation would leave foundlings without any right or measure of protection. During the proceedings of the 1st European Conference on Nationality, the Senior Legal Adviser of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees explained the nature of the right to citizenship:

The Right to a Given Nationality in the Avoidance of Statelessness

Citizenship, or nationality, has been described as man's basic right, as, in fact, the right to have rights. Nationality is not only a right of itself, it is a necessary precursor to the exercise of other rights. Nationality provides the legal connection between an individual and a State, which serves as a basis for certain rights for both the individual and the State, including the State's entitlement to grant diplomatic protection.[394]

In the Philippines, a stateless individual is deprived of countless rights and opportunities under the Constitution, statutes and administrative regulations. These include the rights to suffrage;[395] education and training;[396] candidacy and occupation of public office and other positions in government;[397] use and enjoyment of natural resources;[398] investment;[399] ownership and control of certain types of businesses;[400] practice of rofessons;[401] engagement in certain occupations;[402] and even participation in legal proceedings involving status, condition and legal capacity.[403]

Second, a declaration that petitioner is a citizen but is not natural-born is no less odious to foundlings considering the privileges that would be deemed unavailable to them. These include certain state scholarships[404] and a number of government positions requiring natural-born citizenship as a qualification, i.e. a range of national[405] and local[406] offices, various posts in government commissions,[407] corporations,[408] banks,[409] educational institutions,[410] professional regulatory boards[411] and the military.[412]

The repercussions of such a ruling for foundlings currently holding the enumerated positions are too compelling to ignore. A declaration that individuals of unknown parentage are not Filipinos, or at best naturalized citizens, may lead to their removal from government posts; a demand to return all emoluments and benefits granted in connection with their offices; and even the end of pension benefits presently being enjoyed by affected retirees. The proposal for Congress to remedy the unjust situation that would result from an affirmance by this Court of unjust COMELEC rulings is too odious a solution to even consider. It is not the function of Congress to correct any injustice that would result from this Court's proposed unhappy ruling on foundlings. Rather, it is this Court's first and foremost duty to render justice to them, as the Constitutions requires

WHEREFORE, I vote to GRANT the consolidated petitions.


[1] 468 Phil. 421 (2004).

[2] Id. at 490.

[3] Id. at 494.

[4] The petition docketed as G.R. No. 221697 assailed the COMELEC En Banc Resolution dated 23 December 2015 in SPA No. 15-001 (DC) denying petitioner's motion for reconsideration of the COMELEC Second Division Resolution dated 1 December 2015. On the other hand, the petition docketed as G.R. No. 221698-700 assails the COMELEC En Banc Resolution dated 23 December 2015 in the consolidated cases docketed as SPA Nos. 15-002 (DC), 15-007 (DC) and 15-139 (DC). The COMELEC En Banc denied petitioner's motion for reconsideration of the COMELEC First Division Resolution dated 11 December 2015.

[5] This provision states: "When the Court in recess and the urgency of the case requires immediate action, the Clerk of Court or the Division Clerk of Court shall personally transmit the rollo to the Chief Justice or the Division Chairperson for his or her action."

[6] For instance, see the COMELEC's use of a dissent in Tecson v. COMELEC, Omnibus Resolution dated 11 December 2015, pp. 24, 46.

[7] Sanchez v. Rosario, 111 Phil. 733 (1961 ), citing Abeede v. Imperial 103 Phil. 136-145 (1958).

[8] Deliberations of the Committee: Ad Hoc, Revision of Laws, 20 May 1985, pp. 65-68.

[9] Deliberations of the Committee: Revision of Laws, 30 May 1985.

[10] G.R. No. 207264, 22 October 2013.

[11] Black's Law Dictionary defines "summary proceeding" as "a nonjury proceeding that settles a controversy or disposes of a case in a relatively prompt and simple manner." (Black's Law Dictionary 1242 [8th ed. 2004]).

[12] 318 Phil. 329 (1995).

[13] Id. at 460-461.

[14] Id. at 457-458. Justice Mendoza then quote Section 12, 68 and 78 of the Omnibus Election Code, Sections 6 and 7 of the Electoral Reforms Law. R.A. 6646, and Section 40 of the Local Government Code, R.A. 7160).

[15] Id. at 462-463.

[16] Fermin v. COMELEC, 595 Phil. 449 (2008).

[17] G.R. No. 194076, G.R. No. 194160, [October 18, 2011]).

[18] G.R. No. 207105, [November 10, 2015]).

[19] G.R. No. 196804, 197015, [October 9, 2012], 696 PHIL 786-918).

[20] G.R. No. 191938, [July 2, 2010], 636 PHIL 753-815).

[21] G.R. No. 207900, [April 22, 2014]).

[22] G.R. No. 195229, [October 9, 2012], 696 PHIL 700-785).

[23] G.R. No. 192856, [March 8, 2011]).

[24] G.R. No, 193237, 193536, [October 9, 2012], 696 PHIL 601-700).

[25] G.R. No. 192221, [November 13, 2012]).

[26] G.R. No. 179430, [July 27, 2009], 611 PHIL 501-517).

[27] G.R. No. 105111, 105384, July 3, 1992.

[28] G.R. No. 100710, 100739, September 3, 1991, 278 PHIL 275-302.

[29] G.R. No. 134015, July 19, 1999, 369 PHIL 793-829.

[30] G.R. No. 209835, September 22, 2015.

[31] G.R. No. 193314, February 26,2013.

[32] G.R. No. 120265, September 18, 1995, 318 PHIL 467-539.

[33] G.R. No. 207264, 25 June 2013.

[34] 511 Phil. 720 (2005).

[35] G.R. No. 207900, 22 April 2014.

[36] 595 Phil. 1172 (2008).

[37] 460 Phil. 459 (2003).

[38] 575 Phil. 253 (2008).

[39] G.R. No. 193314 (Resolution), 25 June 2013.

[40] Labo, Jr. v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 105111, 105384, 3 July 1992.

[41] Labo, Jr. v. Commission on Elections. 257 Phil. 1-23 (1989).

[42] Aratea v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 195229, 9 October 2012.

[43] See Dissenting Opinion of Justice Dante O. Tinga in Tecson v. COMELEC, 468 Phil. 421-755 (2004).

[44] G.R. No. 119976, 18 September 1995.

[45] Id.

[46] 371 Phil. 377-393 (1999).

[47] G.R. No. 180051, 24 December 2008.

[48] Id.

[49] Id.

[50] 593 Phil. 383-397 (2008).

[51] G.R. No. 179430, 27 July 2009.

[52] 636 Phil. 753-815 (2010).

[53] G.R. No. 188671, 24 February 2010.

[54] G.R. No. 192856, 8 March 2011.

[55] 468 Phil. 421-755 (2004).

[56] 575 Phil. 253-266 (2008).

[57] 595 Phil. 449-479 (2008).

[58] 696 Phil. 700-785 (2012).

[59] 696 Phil. 786-918 (2012).

[60] G.R. No. 202202, 19 March 2013.

[61] G.R. No. 136351, 28 July 1999.

[62] Tagolino v. HRET, G.R. No. 202202, 19 March 2013.

[63] Miranda v. Abaya, G.R. No. 136351, 28 July 1999.

[64] Villafuerte v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 206698, 25 February 2014; Hayudini v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 207900, 22 April 2014; Agustin v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 207105, 10 November 2015.

[65] G.R. No. 209286, 23 September 2014.

[66] Fermin v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 179695 & 182369, 18 December 2008.

[67] G.R. No. 119976, 18 September 1995.

[68] Id.

[69] G.R. No. 191938, 2 July 2010.

[70] Id.

[71] Id.

[72] Tagolino v. HRET, supra.

[73] Fermin v. COMELEC, supra.

[74] Almagro v. Spouses Amaya, Sr., G.R. No. 179685, 19 June 2013.

[75] Id.

[76] Id.

[77] Heirs of Limense v. Vda. de Ramos, G.R. No. 152319, 28 October 2009.

[78] Id.

[79] See Tecson v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 161434, 161634, 161824, March 3, 2004, 468 PHIL 421-755; and Salcedo II v. COMELEC, 371 Phil. (1999).

[80] Rules of Court, Rule 133, Section.

[81] See Jison v. Court of Appeals, GR No. 124853, 24 February 1998.

[82] Id.

[83] G.R. No. 191938, 2 July 2010.

[84] 686 Phil. 649 (2012).

[85] Rule 130 ofthe Rules of Court.

[86] Rufina Patis Factory v. Alusitain, supra.

[87] Lacbayan v. Samoy, Jr., supra.

[88] Id.

[89] Sec. 4. Judicial admissions. - An admission, verbal or written, made by a party in the course of the proceedings in the same case, does not require proof. The admission may be contradicted only by showing that it was made through palpable mistake or that no such admission was made.

[90] G.R. No. 123553, 13 July 1998.

[91] Id.

[92] Rules of Court, Rule 132, Section 19 provides:

Sec. 19. Classes of Documents. - For the purpose of their presentation in evidence, documents are either public or private.

Public documents are:

(a) The written official acts, or records of the official acts of the sovereign authority, official bodies and tribunals, and public officers, whether of the Philippines, or of a foreign country;
(b) Documents acknowledged before a notary public except last wills and testaments; and
(c) Public records, kept in the Philippines, of private documents required by law to be entered therein.

All other writings are private. (Emphasis supplied)

[93] Philippine Trust Co. v. CA, G.R. No. 150318, 22 November 2010.

[94] Id.

[95] Chua v. CA, G.R. No. 88383, 19 February 1992.

[96] China Banking Corp., Inc. v. CA, G.R. No. 155299, 24 July 2007.

[97] G.R. No. 5272, 19 March 1910.

[98] Memorandum of petitioner, pp. 284-287.

[99] Cav. HRET, G.R. Nos. 92191-92 & 92202-03,30 July 1991.

[100] Nuval v. Ouray, G.R. No. 30241, 29 December 1928.

[101] Carre v. Carre, G.R. No. L-10128, 13 November 1956.

[102] Ugdaracian, Jr. v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 179851, 18 April 2008.

[103] 25 Am Jur 2d, Domicil § 13, cited in the Concurring and Dissenting Opinion of J. Puno, Macalintal v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 157013, 10 July 2003.

[104] Limbona v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 181097, 25 June 2008.

[105] Romualdez-Marcos v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 119976, 18 September 1995.

[106] Romualdez-Marcos v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 119976, 18 September 1995.

[107] Japzon v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 180088, 19 January 2009; Gayo v. Verceles, G.R. No. 150477, 28 February 2005.

[108] Sabili v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 193261, 24 April 2012; Papandayan, Jr. v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 147909, 16 April 2002; Romualdez-Marcos v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 119976, 18 September 1995; Co v. HRET, G.R. Nos. 92191-92 & 92202-03, 30 July 1991; Faypon v. Quirino, G.R. No. L-7068, 22 December 1954.

[109] Caasi v. CA, G.R. Nos. 88831 & 84508, 8 November 1990.

[110] Caasi v. CA, G.R. Nos. 88831 & 84508, 8 November 1990.

[111] Jalosjos v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 191970, 24 April 2012.

[112] Jalosjos v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 191970, 24 April 2012.

[113] Gallego v. Verra, G.R. No. 48641, 24 November 1941.

[114] Dumpit-Michelena v. Boado, G.R. Nos. 163619-20, 17 November 2005.

[115] Gallego v. Verra, G.R. No. 48641, 24 November 1941.

[116] Gallego v. Verra, G.R. No. 48641, 24 November 1941, p. 456.

[117] Id.

[118] Id. at 668.

[119] G.R. No. 191938, 2 July 2010.

[120] Designating 1 September 1973 to 28 February 1974 as a Homecoming Season for Overseas Filipinos. Pursuant to the program, the executive departments were mobilized to welcome and extend privileges to overseas Filipinos who are coming home to the Philippines. It called for the preparation of a hospitality program for overseas Filipinos, as well as the offering of promotional round-trip airline fares for foreign and domestic flights. A temporary "tax holiday" was also declared for the Homecoming Season in which all tax clearance requirements involved in the travel of overseas Filipinos to and from the Philippines shall be suspended and waived. A program of rewards was initiated for local governments which are able to invite the most number of overseas Filipinos. The presidential issuance also constituted a National Hospitality Committee for Overseas Filipinos, which shall organize and supervise the operations of local hospitality committees, especially in regard to sharing with overseas Filipinos a traditional Filipino Christmas.

[121] The introductory statement of LOI No. 163 dated 7 February 1974 provides:

While projected arrivals by February 28 was 30,000, the 35,000th Balikbayan participant has already actually arrived as of this date.

Numerous requests and petitions for the extension of the Balikbayan program have been received by the Office of the President and the Department of Tourism from individual Overseas Filipinos, from associations thereof, and from officials of the Philippine foreign service. They cite as reasons the non-coincidence of the original Homecoming season (1 September 1973 to 28 February 1974) with the school vacation period overseas, and the lack of time of Overseas Filipinos to arrange for their vacations and leave of absences from their occupations due to the suddenness of the launching of the Balikbayan program.

A common reason, moreover, is that, with the stories about the new Philippines related by Balikbayan participants who have returned to their overseas residences, our countrymen who were unable to participate in Balikbayan are now more eager than ever to observe for themselves the New Society in action and to share the pride of the new Filipino in himself and in his reborn nation.

[122] Six-month Extension of the Balikbayan Program.

[123] Declaring A Balik-Scientist Program, Allowing any Foreign-Based Scientists, Professional, Technician, or any Person with Special Skill or Expertise who is of Filipino Origin or Descent to Practice His/Her Profession or Expertise in the Philippines and Aligning Incentives for Him/Her and for Other Purposes.

[124] 5th "Whereas" clause of P.D. 819.

[125] "Now, therefore" clause of LOI 1044.

[126] Extension of the "BALIKBA YAN" Program dated 9 February 1976.

[127] LOI 493 entitled Extension of Effectivity of the Balikbayan Program dated 30 December 1976.

[128] LOI 652 entitled Extension of the Balikbayan Program dated 6 January 1978.

[129] LOI 811 entitled Extension of Period for Operation of the Balikbayan Program dated 14 February 1979.

[130] LOI 985 entitled Extension of the Balikbayan Program dated 21 January 1980.

[131] Instituting the Balik Scientist Program under the Department of Science and Technology.

[132] Special non-immigrant visas are issued in accordance with Section 47 of The Philippine Immigration Act of 1940, as amended. It states:

Section 47. Notwithstanding the provisions of this Act, the President is authorized

(a) When the public interest so warrants-

(1) To waive the documentary requirements for any class of nonimmigrants, under such conditions as he may impose;

(2) To admit, as nonimmigrants, aliens not otherwise provided for by this Act, who are coming for temporary period only, under such conditions as he may prescribe;

(3) To waive the passport requirements for immigrants, under such conditions as he may prescribe;

(4) To reduce or to abolish the passport visa fees in the case of any class of nonimmigrants who are nationals of countries which grant similar concessions to Philippine citizens of a similar class visiting such countries;

(5) To suspend the entry of aliens into the Philippines from any country in which cholera or other infectious or contagious disease is prevalent;

(b) For humanitarian reasons, and when not opposed to the public interest, to admit aliens who are refugees for religious, political, or racial reasons, in such classes of cases and under such conditions as he may prescribe.

[133] An Act Instituting a Balikbayan Program.

[134] Presidential Decree No. 1183 (Amending and Consolidating the Provisions on Travel Tax of Republic Act No. 1478 as Amended and Republic Act No. 6141, Prescribing the Manner of Collection Thereof, Providing Penalties for Violations Thereof, and for Other Purposes, dated 21 August 1977) and Executive Order No. 283 (Restructuring the Travel Tax Exemptions and Restoring the Reduced Rates on Certain Individuals, Amending for this Purpose, Presidential Decree No. 1183, as Amended, dated July 25, 1987) exempted only Filipino overseas contract workers from the payment of the travel tax.

[135] An Act Amending Republic Act Numbered 6768, Entitled, "An Act Instituting A "Balikbayan Program," by Providing Additional Benefits and Privileges to Balikbayan and for Other Purposes.

[136] Republic Act No. 6768, as emended by Republic Act No. 9174, Section 2(c).

[137] OWWA Board Resolution No. 038-03 dated 19 September 2003 entitled Guidelines on OWWA Membership, Article VIII, Section 2(4)(b).

[138] Id. at Section 6(b).

[139] <http://www.owwa.gov.ph/?q=content/programs-services>
, (last visited 9 March 2016).

[140] Id.

[141] Id.

[142] <http://nrco.dole.gov.ph/index.php/about-us/who-we-are>, (last visited 9 March 2016).

[143] Republic Act No. 8042 (Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995), as amended by Republic Act No. 10022 dated 8 March 2010, Section 17.

[144] An OFW is a person who is to be engaged, is engaged or has been engaged in a remunerated activity in a state of which he or she is not a citizen or on board a vessel navigating the foreign seas other than a government ship used for military or non-commercial purposes or on an installation located offshore or on the high seas [Republic Act No. 8042, Section 3(a)]

[145] Republic Act No. 6768, as amended by Republic Act No. 9174, Section 6, par. 2.

[146] <http://www.immigration.gov.ph/faqs/visa-inquiry/balikbayan-previlege> The website of the Bureau of Immigration states:

Those who are admitted as Balikbayans are given an initial stay of one (1) year. They may extend their stay for another one (1), two (2) or six (6) months provided that they present their valid passport and filled out the visa extension form and submit it to the Visa Extension Section in the BI Main Office or any BI Offices nationwide. An additional requirement will be ask (sic) for (sic) Balikbayans who have stayed in the Philippines after thirty six (36) months.

[147] G.R. No. 151914, 31 July 2002.

[148] G.R. No. 180088, 19 January 2009.

[149] G.R. No. 209835, 22 September 2015.

[150] Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003.

[151] 435 U.S. 647 (1978).

[152] Id.

[153] 284 Md. 425 (1979).

[154] The website of the Bureau of Immigration states:
Those who are admitted as Balikbayans are given an initial stay of one (1) year. They may extend their stay for another one (1), two (2) or six (6) months provided that they present their valid passport and filled out the visa extension form and submit it to the Visa Extension Section in the 81 Main Office or any 81 Offices nationwide. An additional requirement will be ask (sic) for (sic) Balikbayans who have stayed in the Philippines after thirty six (36 months).

This is available at http://www.immigration.gov.ph/faqs/visa-inquiry/balikbayan­-privilege, (last visited 8 March 2016).
[155] Petition to Deny Due Course, dated 21 Oct. 2015 (Elamparo), Annex E.

[156] Jalosjos v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 193314, 26 February 2013; Mitra v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 191938, 2 July 2010; Gayo v. Verceles, G.R. No. 150477, 28 February 2005.

[157] Petitioner submitted as evidence Exhibit "7," which is Brian's official transcript of records from the Beacon School in Taguig City. It states that Brian was enrolled in Grade 8 at the Beacon School for the academic year 2005-2006. Exhibit 7-A, a Certification from Sandra Bernadette Firmalino, Registrar of the De La Salle High School Department, indicates that in 2006, Brian transferred to La Salle Greenhills, and that he studied there until he graduated from high school in 2009. Exhibits "7-B" and "7-C" are Hanna's  permanent records at the Assumption College as an elementary and secondary student, respectively. They show that Hanna was enrolled in Grade 2 at Assumption College in Makati City for academic year 2005-2006.

As for Anika, petitioner alleged that Anika was just under a year old when the former and her family relocated to the Philippines in May 2005 and therefore Anika was not enrolled in any school in 2005. Petitioner presented Exhibit "7-D," which is a Certificate of Attendance dated 8 April 2015 issued by the Directress of the Learning Connection, Ms. Julie Pascual Penaloza. It states that Anika attended pre-school at the Learning Connection in San Juan City from January to March 2007. Petitioner likewise offered as evidence Exhibit "7-E," a Certification dated 14 April 2015 issued by the Directress of the Greenmeadows Learning Center, Ms. Anna Villalima-Reyes, Anika studied at the Greenmeadows Learning Center in Quezon City for academic year 2007-2008. Exhibit "7-F" is the Elementary Pupil's Permanent Record showing that Anika spent her kindergarten and grade school years at the Assumption College. The record covers the years 2007 to 2013. The same Exhibit "7-F" indicates that Anika was born on 5 June 2004.

[158] Marked as Exhibit "8."

[159] Marked as Exhibits "11" and "12."

[160] TCT No. 290260, issued by the Register of Deeds of Quezon City.

[161] G.R. No. 187478 (2009).

[162] 718 A.2d 1111 (1984).

[163] Id.

[164] COMELEC Comment dated 7 January 2016, p. 56.

[165] COMELEC Comment, page 56.

[166] G.R. No. 191970, 24 April 2012.

[167] Jalosjos v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 193314, 26 February 2013.

[168] Oglesby State Election Bd. v. Bayh 521 N.E. 2d 1313 (1988); Farnsworth v. Jones, 114 N.C. App. 182 (1994); Hale v. State of Mississippi Democratic Executive Committee (168 So. 3d 946 (2015).

[169] No. 2015-EC-00965--SCT( 2015).

[170] See p. 47, par. 157.

[171] Section 236 (J) of the Tax Reform Act of 1997, R.A. No. 8424, 11 December 1997 provides:

(J) Supplying of Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN). Any person required under the authority of this Code to make, render or file a return, statement or other document shall be supplied with or assigned a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) which he shall indicate in such return, statement or document filed with the Bureau of Internal Revenue for his proper identification for tax purposes, and which he shall indicate in certain documents, such as, but not limited to the following:

[172] Id.

[173] Affidavit, p. 1.

[174] No. 2015-EC-00965-SCT( 2015).

[175] G.R. No. 28328, 2 October 1928, 52 PHIL 130-138)

[176] Comment-Opposition to the Petition for Certiorari (G.R. No. 221698 700) dated 8 January 2015, p. 51, par. 174.

[177] Petitioner's Memorandum p. 279.

[178] 372 Md. 360 (2002).

[179] 314 U.S. 441 (1941).

[180] 314 u. s. 456.

[181] Id.

[182] Superior Court of North Carolina. Wake County. Business Court. Steve W Fowler and Elizabeth P.  Fowler v. North Carolina Department of Revenue. No. 13 CVS 10989. 6 August 2014, citing Hall v. Wake Cnty. Bd. of Elections, 280 N.C. 600, 187 S.E.2d 52 (1972). See also Robin Cates v. Olga Mescherskaya and Progressive Casualty Insurance Company. Civil Action No. 14-00729. / Signed 1 July 2014. United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana, citing Cox, Cox, Filo, Camel & Wilson, LLC v. Sasol North Am., Inc., No. 11-856,2012 WL 262613, at *5 (W.D.La. Jan. 30, 2012).

[183] Memorandum for respondent Amado D. Valdez, p. 25.

[184] 372 Md. 360 (2002).

[185] Transcript of Stenographic Notes taken during the Oral Arguments on 16 February 2016, pp. 85-86.

[186] No. 2015-EC-00965-SCT( 2015).

[187] 114 N.C. App. 182 (1994).

[188] 968 So. 2d 745 (2007).

[189] Pa. Superior Ct. 237 (1984) 473 A.2d 1069.

[190] Receipt Nos. 827172 and 8220421, dated 23 February 2006.

[191] 372 Md. 360 (2002).

[192] Republic Act No. 8189, 11 June 1996.

[193] G.R. No. 191938, 19 October 2010.

[194] 473 A.2d 1069 (1984).

[195] § 53.2 Exceptions.

(a) U.S. citizens, as defined in § 41.0 of this chapter, are not required to bear U.S. passports when traveling directly between parts ofthe United States as defined in § 51.1 of this chapter.

(b) A U.S. citizen is not required to bear a valid U.S. passport to enter or depart the United States:

(1) When traveling as a member of the Armed Forces of the United States on active duty and when he or she is in the uniform of, or bears documents identifying him or her as a member of, such Armed Forces, when under official orders or permit of such Armed Forces, and when carrying a military identification card; or

(2) When traveling entirely within the Western Hemisphere on a cruise ship, and when the U.S. citizen boards the cruise ship at a port or place within the United States and returns on the return voyage of the same cruise ship to the same United States port or place from where he or she originally departed. That U.S. citizen may present a government-issued photo identification document in combination with either an original or a copy of his or her birth certificate, a Consular Report: of Birth Abroad issued by the Department, or a Certificate of Naturalization issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services before entering the United States; if the U.S. citizen is under the age of 16, he or she may present either an original or a copy of his or her birth certificate, a Consular Report: of Birth Abroad issued by the Department, or a Certificate of Naturalization issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; or

(3) When traveling as a U.S. citizen seaman, carrying an unexpired Merchant Marine Document (MMD) in conjunction with maritime business. The MMD is not sufficient to establish citizenship for purposes of issuance of a United States passport under part 51 of this chapter; or

(4) Trusted traveler programs-(i) NEXUS Program. When traveling as a participant in the NEXUS program, he or she may present a valid NEXUS program card when using a NEXUS Air kiosk or when entering the United States from contiguous territory or adjacent islands at a land or sea port-of-entry. A U.S. citizen who enters the United States by pleasure vessel from Canada under the remote inspection system may also present a NEXUS program card;

(ii) FAST program. A U.S. citizen who is traveling as a participant in the FAST program may present a valid FAST card when entering the United States from contiguous territory or adjacent islands at a land or sea port-of-entry;

(iii) SENTRI program. A U.S. citizen who is traveling as a participant in the SENTRI program may present a valid SENTRI card when entering the United States from contiguous territory or adjacent islands at a land or sea port-of-entry; The NEXUS, FAST, and SENTRI cards are not sufficient to establish citizenship for purposes of issuance of a U.S. passport under part 51 of this chapter; or

(5) When arriving at land ports of entry and sea ports of entry from contiguous territory or adjacent islands, Native American holders of American Indian Cards (Form I-872) issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may present those cards; or

(6) When arriving at land or sea ports of entry from contiguous territory or adjacent islands, U.S. citizen holders of a tribal document issued by a United States qualifying tribal entity or group of United States qualifying tribal entities as provided in 8 CFR 235.1(e) may present that document. Tribal documents are not sufficient to establish citizenship for purposes of issuance of a United States passport under part 51 of this chapter; or

(7) When bearing documents or combinations of documents the Secretary of Homeland Security has determined under Section 7209(b) of Public Law 108-458 (8 U.S.C. 115 note) are sufficient to denote identity and citizenship. Such documents are not sufficient to establish citizenship for purposes of issuance of a U.S. passport underpart 51 ofthis chapter; or

(8) When the U.S. citizen is employed directly or indirectly on the construction, operation, or maintenance of work undertaken in accordance with the treaty concloded on February 3, 1944, between the United States and Mexico regarding the functions of the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC), TS 994, 9 Bevans 1166, 59 Stat. 1219, or other related agreements, provided that the U.S. citizen bears an official identification card issued by the IBWC and is traveling in connection with such employment; or

(9) When the Department of State waives, pursuant to EO 13323 of December 30, 2003, Section 2, the requirement with respect to the U.S. citizen because there is an unforeseen emergency; or

(10) When the Department of State waives, pursuant to EO 13323 of December 30, 2003, Sec. 2, the requirement with respect to the U.S. citizen for humanitarian or national interest reasons; or

(11) When the U.S. citizen is a child under the age of 19 arriving from contiguous territory in the following circumstances:

(i) Children under age 16. A United States citizen who is under the qge of 16 is permitted to present either an original or a copy of his or her birth certificate, a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or a Certificate of Naturalization issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services when entering the United States from contiguous territory at land or sea ports-of-entry; or

(ii) Groups of children under age 19. A U.S. citizen who is under age 19 and who is traveling with a public or private school group, religious group, social or cultural organization, or team associated with a youth sport organization may present either an original or a copy of his or her birth certificate, a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or a Certificate of Naturalization issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services when arriving in the United States from contiguous territory at all land or sea ports of entry, when the group, organization or team is under the supervision of an adult affiliated with the organization and when the child has parental or legal guardian consent to travel. For purposes of this paragraph, an adult is considered to be a person who is age 19 or older. The following requirements will apply:

(A) The group, organization, or team must provide to CBP upon crossing the border on organizational letterhead:

(1)The name ofthe group, organization or team, and the name ofithe supervising adult;
(2) A list of the children on the trip; and
(3) For each child, the primary address, primary phone number, date of birth, place of birth, and the name of at least one parent or legal guardian.

(B) The adult leading the group, organization, or team must demonstrate parental or legal guardian consent by certifying in the writing submitred in paragraph (b)(ll)(ii)(A) of this section that he or she has obtained for each child the consent of at least one parent or legal guardian.

(C) The procedure described in this paragraph is limited to members of the group, organization, or team who are urider age 19. Other members of the group, organization, or team must comply with other applicable document and/or inspection requirements found in 8 CFR parts 211, 212, or 235.

[196] G.R. No. 195649, 16 April 2013.

[197]

[198] Republic v. Court of Appeals G.R. No. 97906, 21 May 1992.

[199] Section 17.

[200] Child and Youth Welfare Code (1974), Article 38.

[201] Domestic Adoption Act of 1998, Sec. 15.

[202] A.M. No. 02-6-02-SC, Sec. 18.

[203] It must be noted that in the US, adoption statutes prohibit adoption files from being inspected by birth parents, the general public, and even the adult adoptees themselves, with most states providing that sealed adopted records could be opened only by court order.203 In the case of In Re: Roger B 418 N.E.2d 751 (III.1981), the Court eventually held that the adoptee has no fundamental right to view his adoption records since the status of an adoptee does not result at birth. It is derived from legal proceedings the purpose of which is to protect the best interests of the child.

[204] Republic Act No. 8552 entitled "Domestic Adoption Act of 1998," Section 14.

[205] CIVIL CODE, Art. 410.

[206] Baldos v. Court of Appeals and Pillazar, 638 Phil. 601 (2010).

[207] Marked as Exhibit "2."

[208] Reyes v. Sotero, 517 Phil. 708 (2006).

[209] Id.

[210] The original certificate of birth shall be stamped "cancelled," annotated with the issuance of an amended birth certificate in its place, and shall be sealed in the civil registry records. With due regard to the confidential nature of the proceedings and records of adoption, the civil registrar where the foundling was registered is charged with the duty to seal the foundling certificate in the civil registry records, which can be opened only upon order ofthe eourt which issued the decree of adoption (Section 16(B)(3)(c), A.M. No. 02-6-02-SC, 31 July 2002).

[211] Section 2, Statement of Policy.

[212] Section 3(d).

[213] Section 3(e).

[214] Section 13(e)

[215] In 1950, an application for a Philippine passport was filed for a boy, who had been found by Sps. Hale in an air raid shelter. The boy was only three years old when he was found. His parents, sister and grandmother were among the dead. The DFA asked for a DOJ opinion with the regard to the status of foundlings. In 1951, the Secretary of Justice released DOJ Opinion No. 189, series of 1951 which stated that, following international conventions, a foundling is presumed to have assumed the citizenship of the place where he or she is found. Since then, the OFA has been issuing passports to foundlings.

[216] <http://www.dfa.gov.ph/index.php/consular-services/passport-information> (last accessed 8 March 2016).

[217] Section 44. 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 off duty specially enjoined by law, are prima facie evidence of the facts therein stated. (38)

[218] Lejano v. People, 652 Phil. 512 (2010).

[219] In Go, Sr. v. Ramos, G.R. Nos. 167569, 167570, 171946, 4 Septembr 2009, 614 PHIL 451-484, the Court explained that res judicata applies only when the following concur: (a) a person's citizenship is raised as a material issue in a controversy where that person is a party; (b) the Solicitor General or an authorized representative took active part in the resolution of the issue; and (c) the finding of citizenship is affirmed by this Court. These conditions do not obtain in this case.

[220] Petition for Certiorari (G.R. No. 221697) dated 28 December 2015, Annex I-series, Exhibit 20.

[221] In In Re: Roger B, the Supreme Court of Illinois explained the potent policy interests which are promoted by the sealing of adoption records. Included in those interests are the facilitation of the adoption process by maintaining the anonymity and the right to privacy of the natural parents, and the integrity of the new adoptive family:
Confidentiality is needed to protect the right to privacy of the natural parent. The natural parents, having determined it is in the best interest of themselves and the child, have placed the child for adoption. This process is not done merely with the expectation of anonymity, but also with the statutory assurance that his or her identity will be shielded from public disclosure. Quite conceivably, the natural parents have established a new family unit with the expectation of confidentiality concerning the adoption that occurred several years earlier.

x x x x

Confidentiality also must be promoted to protect the right of the adopting parents. The adopting parents have taken into their home a child whom they will regard as their own and whom they will love, support, and raise as an integral part of the family unit. They should be given the opportunity to create a stable family relationship free from unnecessary intrusion. The Section creates a situation in which the emotional attachments are directed toward the relationship with the new parents. The adoptive parents need and deserve the child's loyalty as they grow older, and particularly in their later years.

x x x x

The State's concern of promoting confidentiality to prot ct the integrity of the adoption process is well expressed by the following excerpt from Klibanoff, Genealogical Information in Adoption: The Adoptees Quest and the Law:
"The primary interest of the public is to preserve the integrity of the adoptive process. That is, the continued existence of adoption as a humane solution to the serious social problem of children who are or may become unwanted, abused or neglected. In order to maintain it, the public has an interest in assuring that changes in ilaw, policy or practice will not be made which negatively affect the supply of capable adoptive parents or the willingness of biological parents to make decisions which are best for them and their children. We should not increase the risk of neglect to any child, nor should we force parents to resort to the black market in order to surrender children ithey can't care for.

x x x x

No one has yet shown that decades of policy protecting the anonymity of the biological parents and the security from intrusion of the parent-child relationship after adoption have been misguided. Quite the contrary. The overwhelming success of adoption aan institution which has provided millions of children with families, and vice-versa, cannot be easily attacked.

The public has a strong interest, too, in preserving the confidential non-public nature of the process. Public attitudes toward illegitimacy and parents who neglect or abuse children have not changed sufficiently to warrant careless disclosure of the circumstances leading to adoption.

But the public also has an interest in the mental health of children who have been adopted-in order that they not become burdens to society. Some provision for the relatively small group of adoptees whose psychological needs are compelling would appear: necessary."
x x x x

The State certainly must protect the interest of the adoptee, as well as the rights of the natural and adopting parents. When the adoptee is a minor, there is no dispute that the sealed-record provisions serve this end. The child, in his new family environment, is insulated from intrusion from the natural parents. The child is protected from any stigma resulting from illegitimacy, neglect, or abuse. The preclusion of outside interference allows the adopted child to develop a relationship of love and cohesiveness with the new family unit. Prior to adulthood, the adoptee's interest is con istent with that of the adopting and natural parents.

Upon reaching majority, the adoptee often develops a countervailing interest that is in direct conflict with the other parties, particularly the natural parents. The adoptee wishes to determine his natural identity, while the privacy interest of the, natural parents remain, perhaps stronger than ever. The Section recognizes that the right of privacy is not absolute. It allows the court to evaluate the needs of the adoptee as well as the nature of the relationships and choices made by all parties concerned. The statute, by providing for release of adoption records only upon issuance of a court order, does no more than allow the court to balance the interests of all the parties and make a det rmination based on the facts and circumstances of each individual case.221 (Citations omitted)
[222] Exhibit 30, Annex I-series in G.R. No. 229697; Exhibit 30 (Tatad), Exhibit 20-22 (Contreras/Valdez), Annex M-series of Petition for Certiorari in G.R. Nos. 229688-700.

[223] Exhibit 30-A, Annex I-series in G.R. No. 229697; Exhibit 30-A (Tatad), Exhibit 23 (Contreras/Valdez), Annex M-series of Petition for Certiorari in G.R. Nos. 229688-700.

[224] Exhibit 31, Annex I-series in G.R. No. 229697; Exhibit 31 (Tatad), Exhibit 34 (Contreras/Valdez), Annex M-series of Petition for Certiorari in G.R. Nos. 229688-700.

[225] Section 3(h), Rules and Regulations to Implement the Domestic Adoptin Act of 1998, IRR-R.A. 8552 (1998); Also see Rule 26, Implementing Rules and Regulations of Act No. 3753 and Other Laws on Civil Registration, NSO Administrative Order No. 1-93 (1992); Section 3(e), Rule on Adoption, A.M. No. 02-6-02-SC (2002).

[226] Articles 255 and 258 of the Civil Code state:
Article 255. Children born after one hundred and eighty days following the celebration of the marriage, and before three hundred days following its dissolution or the separation of the spouses shall be presumed to be legitimate.

Against this presumption no evidence shall be admitted other than that of the physical impossibility of the husband's having access to his wife within the first one hundred and twenty days of the three hundred which preceded the birth of the child.

Article 258. A child born within one hundred eighty qays following the celebration of the marriage is prima facie presumed to be legitimate. Such a child is conclusively presumed to be legitimate in any of these cases:

(1) If the husband, before the marriage, knew of the pregnancy of the wife;
(2) If he consented, being present, to the putting of his surname on the record of birth of the child;
(3) If he expressly or tacitly recognized the child as his own.
A similar provision is found in the Family Code:
Article 168. If the marriage is terminated and the mother contracted another marriage within three hundred days after such termination of the former marriage, these rules shall govern in the absence of proof to te contrary:

(1) A child born before one hundred eighty days after the solemnization of the subsequent marriage is considered to have been corceived during the former marriage, provided it be born within three hundred days after the termination of the former marriage;

(2) A child born after one hundred eighty days following te celebration of the subsequent marriage is considered to have been con eived during such marriage, even though it be born within the three hu dred days after the termination of the former marriage.
[227] Rule 131, Section 3 ofthe Rules of Court, states:

Section 3. Disputable presumptions. - The following presumptions are satisfactory if uncontradicted, but may be contradicted and overcome by other eividence.

x x x x

(dd) That if the marriage is terminated and the mother contracted another marriage within three hundred days after such termination of the former marriage these rides shall govern in the absence of proof to the contrary:     

(1) A child born before one hundred eighty days after the solemntzation of the subsequent marriage is considered to have been conceived during the former marriage, provided it be born within three hundred days after the termination of the former marriage;

(2) A child born after one hundred eighty days following the celebration of the subseq
546+45
56uent marriage is considered to have been conceived during such marriage, even though it be born within the three hundred days after the termination of the former marriage.

[228] Alejandro E. Sebastian, The Philippine Law on Legitimacy, 11 PHIL. L.J. 35 (1931), p. 42.

[229] G.R. No. 200169, 28 January 2015.

[230] CIVIL CODE, Art. 172.

[231] Section 5, Act No. 3753 states:
SECTION 5. Registration and Certification of Births. - The declaration of the physician or midwife in attendance at the birth or, in default thereof, the declaration of either parent of the newborn child, shall be sufficient for the registration of a birth in the civil register. Such declaration shall be exempt from the documentary stamp tax land shall be sent to the local civil registrar not later than thirty days after the birth, by the physician, or midwife in attendance at the birth or by either parent of the newly born child.

In such declaration, the persons above mentioned shall certify to fhe following facts: (a) date and hour of birth; (b) sex and nationality of infant; (c) names, citizenship, and religion of parents or, in case the father is not known, of the mothr alone; (d) civil status of parents; (e) place where the infant was born; (f) and such other data may be required in the regulation to be issued.

In case of an illegitimate child, the birth certificate shall be signed nd sworn to jointly by the parents of the infant or only the mother if the father refuses. In the latter case, it shall not be permissible to state or reveal in the document the name othe father who refuses to acknowledge the child, or to give therein any information by which such father could be identified.
[232] Supra note 229.

[233] In Lucas v. Lucas (G.R. No. 190710, 665 Phil. 795-815 [2011]), the Court explained:
Notwithstanding these, it should be stressed that the issuance of a DNA testing order remains discretionary upon the court. The court may, for example, consider whether there is absolute necessity for the DNA testing. If there is already preponderance of evidence to establish paternity and the DNA test result would only be corroborative, the court may, in its discretion, disallow a DNA testing.
This pronouncement was reiterated in Tecson v. COMELEC (G.R. Nos. 161434, 161634, 161824, 468 Phil. 421-75 [2004]), in which the Court stated: 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 residuof the long dead parent could be resorted to."

[234] Section 765 of Act 190 states:

SECTION 765. How a Child May be Adopted. — An inhabitant of the Philippine Islands, not married, or a husband and wife jointly, may petition the Court of First Instance of the province in which they reside for leave to adopt a minor child but a written consent must be given for such adoption by the child, if of the age of fourteen years, and by each of his or her living parents who is not hopelessly insane or intemperate, or has not abandoned such child, or if there are no such parents, or if the parents are unknown, or have abandoned such child, or if they are hopelessly insane or intemperate, then by the legal guardian, or if there is no such guardian, then by a discreet and suitable person appointed by the court to act in the proceedings as the next friend of such child; but when such child is an inmate of an orphan asylum or children's home, organized under the laws of the Philippine Islands, and has been previously abandoned by its parents or guardians, or voluntarily surrendered by its parents or guardians to the trustees or directors of an asylum or children's home, then the written consent of the president of the board of trustees or directors of such asylum must be given: Provided, nevertheless, That nothing herein contained shall authorize a guardian to adopt his ward before the termination of the guardianship and the final settlement and approval of his accounts as guardian by the court. (Emphases supplied)

[235] Sections 3 and 7, Rule 100 (Adoption and Custody of Minors) of the 1940 Rules of Court, state: 
SECTION 3. Consent to Adoption. - There shall be filed with the petition a written consent to the adoption signed by the child, if over fourteen years of age and not incompetent, and by each of its known living parents who is not insane or hopelessly intemperate or has not abandoned such child, or if there are no such parents by the general guardian or guardian ad litem of the child, or if the child is in the custody of an orphan asylum, children's home, or benevolent society or person, by the proper officer or officers of such asylum, home, or society, or by such person; but if the child is illegitimate and has not been recognized, the consent of its father to the adoption shall not be required.

SECTION 7. Proceedings as to Vagrant or Abused Child. When the parents of any minor child are dead, or by reason of long absence or legal for physical disability have abandoned it, or cannot support it through vagrancy, negligence, or misconduct, or neglect or refuse to support it, or unlawfully beat or otherwise habitually maltreat it, or cause or allow it to engage in common begging, or to commit o fenses against the law, the proper Court of First Instance, upon petition filed by some reputable resident of the province setting forth the facts, may issue an order requiring such parents to show cause, or, if the parents are dead or cannot be found, requiring the fiscal of the province to show cause, at a time and place fixed in the order, why the child should not be taken from its parents, if living; and if upon hearing it appear that the allegations of the petition are true, and that it is for the best interest of the child, the court may make an order taking it from its parents, if living, and committing it to any suitable orphan asylum, children's home, or benevolent society or person, to be ultimately placed, by adoption or otherwise, in a home found for it by such asylum, children's home, society, or person.
[236] Sections 3 and 7, Rule 99 ofthe 1964 Rules of Court, provide:

SECTION 3. Consent to Adoption. - There shall be filed witli the petition a written consent to the adoption signed by the child, if fourteen years of age or over and not incompetent, and by the child's spouse, if any, and by each of it known living parents who is not insane or hopelessly intemperate or has not abandoned such child, or if there are no such parents by the general guardian or guardian ad litem of the child, or if the child is in the custody of an orphan asylum, children's home, or benevolent society or person, by the proper officer or officers of such asylum, home, or society, or by such person; but if the child is illegitimate and has not been recognized, the consent of its father to the adoption shall not be required.

If the person to be adopted is of age, only his or her consent and that of the spouse, if any, shall be required.

SECTION 7. Proceedings as to Vagrant or Abused Child. - When the parents of any minor child are dead, or by reason of long absence or legal or physical disability have abandoned it, or cannot support it through vagrancy, negligence, or misconduct, or neglect or refuse to support it, or treat it with excessive harshnes or give it corrupting orders, counsels, or examples, or cause or allow it to engage in egging, or to commit offenses against the law, the proper Court of First Instance, upon petition filed by some reputable resident of the province setting forth the facts, may issue an order requiring such parents to show cause, or, if the parents are dead or cannot be found, requiring the fiscal of the province to show cause, at a time and place fixed in the order, why the child should not be taken from its parents, if living; and if upon the hearing it appears that the allegations of the petition are true, and that it is for the est interest of the child, the court may make an order taking it from its parents, if living; and committing it to any suitable orphan asylum, children's home, or benevolent society or person to be ultimately placed, by adoption or otherwise, in a home found for it by such sylum, children's home, society or person.

[237] Sections 1 and 5 of Act No. 1670 provide:
SECTION 1. The board of trustees or directors of any asylum or institution in which poor children are cared for and maintained at public expense are hereby authorized, with the consent of the Director of Health, to place any orpran or other child so maintained therein whose parents are unknown, or being known are unable or unwilling to support such child, in charge of any suitable person who may desire to take such child and shall furnish satisfactory evidence of his ability suitably to maintain, care for, and educate such child.

SECTION 5. Upon the application of any person to the trustees or directors of any asylum or institution where poor children are maintained at public expense to adopt any child so maintained therein, it shall be the duty of such trustes or directors, with the approval of the Director of Health, to report the fact to the provincial fiscal, or in the city of Manila to the city attorney, and such official shall hereupon prepare the necessary adoption papers and present the matter to the proper court. The costs of such proceedings in court shall be de oficio.
[238] Administrative Code, Act No. 2657, 31 December 1916.

[239] Sections 545 and 548 of Act No. 2711 provide:
SECTION 545. Transfer of child from institution for poor children. - The competent authorities of any asylum or institution in which poor children are cared for and maintained at public expense are authorized, subject to regul tions approved by the Secretary of the Interior, to place any orphan or other child so maintained therein whose parents are unknown, or being known are unable or unwilling to support such child, in charge of any suitable person who may desire to take such child and shall furnish satisfactory evidence of his ability suitably to maintain, care for, and educate such child.
The intrusting of a child to any person as herein provided shall not constitute a legal adoption and shall not affect the civil status of such child or pr judice the right of any person entitled to its legal custody or guardianship.
SECTION 548. Adoption of child from institution for poor children. - Upon the application of any person to the competent authorities of anasylum or institution where the poor children are maintained at public expense tadopt any child so maintained therein, it shall be the duty of such authorities, with the approval of the Secretary of the Interior, to report the fact to the provincial fiscal, in the City of Manila to the fiscal of the city, and such official shall thereupon prepare the necessary adoption papers and present the matter to the proper court. The costs of such proceeding in court shall be de oficio.
[240] The law provides:
SECTION 8. Who May Be Adopted. - Only a legally free child may be the subject of inter-country adoption. In order that such child may be considered for placement, the following documents must be submitted to the Board:

a) Child study;
b) Birth certificate/foundling certificate;
c) Deed of voluntary commitment/decree of abandonm nt/death certificate of parents;
d) Medical evaluation/history;
e) Psychological evaluation, as necessary; and
f) Recent photo of the child
[241] An Act Requiring the Certification of the Department of Social Welfae and Development (DSWD) to Declare a "Child Legally Available for Adoption" as a Prerequisite for Adoption Proceedings (2009).

[242] Pursuant to Section 2(3) of R.A. 9523, an "Abandoned Child" refer to a child who has no proper parental care or guardianship, or whose parent(s) have deserted him/her for a period of at least three (3) continuous months, and the term includes a founding.

[243] Sections 4 and 5 ofR.A. 9523 state:
Section 4. Procedure for the Filing of the Petition. - The petition shall be filed in the regional office of the DSWD where the child was found or abandred.

The Regional Director shall examine the petition and its supporting documents, if sufficient in form and substance and shall authorize the postipg of the notice of the petition conspicuous place for five (5) consecutive days in the locality where the child was found.

The Regional Director shall act on the same and shall render a rdcommendation not later than five (5) working days after the completion of its posting. He/she shall transmit a copy of his/her recommendation and records to the Office of the Secretary within forty-eight (48) hours from the date of the recommendation.

Section 5. Declaration of Availability for Adoption. - Upon finding merit in the petition, the Secretary shall issue a certification declaring the child legallavailable for adoption within seven (7) working days from receipt of the recommendation.

Said certification, by itself shall be the sole basis for the immedi te issuance by the local civil registrar of a foundling certificate. Within seven (7) working days, the local civil registrar shall transmit the founding certificate to the National Statistic Office (NSO).
[244] Guidelines on the Issuance of DSWD Certification Declaring a Child Legally Available for Adoption, DSWD Administrative Order No. 012-11 (2011).

[245] G.R. No. L-16922, 30 April 1963.

[246] 134 Phil. 901-912 (1968).

[247] G.R. No. L-30576, 10 February 1976.

[248] 274 Phil. 1157-1249 (1991).

[249] G.R. Nos. 161434, 161634, 161824, 468 Phil. 421-75 (2004).

[251] People v. Veneracion, 319 Phil. 364 (1995).

[252] Alexander Hamilton, Federalist Paper No. 22; emphasis supplied.

[253] RULES OF COURT, Rule 128, Sec. 1.

[254] 93 Phil. 257 (1953).

[255] Id. The passage cited In re Bohenko's Estate, 4 N.Y.S. 2nd. 427, which also cited Tortora vs. State of New York, 269 N.Y. 199 N.E. 44; Hart vs. Hudson River Bridge Co., 8 N.Y. 622.

[256] Id. The passage cited l Moore on Facts, Sec. 596.

[257] RULES OF COURT, Rule 112

Section 1. Preliminary Investigation Defined;When Required. - Prelim nary investigation is an inquiry or proceeding to determine whether there is sufficient ground to enge der a well-founded belief that a crime has been committed and the respondent is probably guilty thereof, and should be held for trial.

[258] Section 6. When warrant of arrest may issue. - (a) By the Regional Trial Court. Within ten (10) days from the filing of the complaint or information, the judge shall personally evaluate the resolution of the prosecutor and its supporting evidence. He may immediately dismiss the case if the evidence on record clearly fails to establish probable cause. If he finds probable cause, he shall issue a warrant of arrest, or a commitment order if the accused has already been arrested pursuant to a warrant issued by the judge who conducted the preliminary investigation or when the complaint or information was filed pursuant to Section 7 of this Rule. In case of doubt on the existence of probable cause, the judge may order the prosecutor to present additional evidence within five (5) days from notice and the issue must be resolved by the court within thirty (30) days from the filing of the complaint of information.

[259] RULES OF COURT, Rule 133

Section 5. Substantial evidence. In cases filed before administrative or quasi-judicial bodies, a fact may be deemed established if it is supported by substantial evidence, or that amount of relevant evidence which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to justify conclusion.

[260] RULES OF COURT, Rule 133

Section 1. Preponderance of evidence, how determined. In civil cases, the party having the burden of proof must establish his case by a preponderance of evidence. In determining where the preponderance or superior weight of evidence on the issues involved, lies, the court may consider all the facts and circumstances of the case, the witnesses' manner of testifying, their intelligence, their means and opportunity of knowing the facts to which they are testlfying, the nature of the facts to which they testify, the probability or improbability of their testimony, their interest or want of interest, and also their personal credibility so far as the same may legitimate appear upon the trial. The court may also consider the number of witnesses, though the preponderance is not necessarily with the greater number.

[261] RULES OF COURT, Rule 130

Section 51. Character evidence not generally admissible; exceptions. - (a) In Criminal Cases:

(1) The accused may prove his good moral character which is pertinent to the moral trait involved in the offense charged.

(2) Unless in rebuttal, the prosecution may not prove his bad moral character which is pertinent to the moral trait involved in the offense charged.

(3) The good or bad moral character of the offended party may be proved if it tends to establish in any reasonable degree the probability or improbability of the offense charged.

[262] Mercado, Jr. v. Employees' Compensation Commission, 223 Phil. 483-493 (1985).

[263] People vs. Condemena, L-22426, May 29, 1968, 23 SCRA 910, 919.

[264] Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company v. Dumapis, G.R. No. 163110, 13 August 2008, 562 SCRA 103, 113-114.

[265] Memorandum for public respondent COMELEC, p. 21

[266] Petition for Certiorari (G.R. 221697), p. 107.

[267] Oral Arguments, TSN, 16 August 2016.

[268] Tecson v. COMELEC, 468 Phil. 421 (2004).

[269] 1987 Constitution, Article XV, Section 3(2).

[270] See p. 55

[271] Erwin Chemerinsky, Constitutional Law: Principles and Policies 17-19 (3rd ed. 2006).

[272] William Michael Treanor, Against Textualism, 103 Nw. U.L . Rev. 983-1006 (2009). :
http://scholarship.law.georgetown.edu/facpub, Last Accessed: 8 March 2016.

[273] Joaquin Bernas, SJ, The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines; A Commentary, p. 997 (2009).

[274] In this approach, the justice analyzes the intention of the frames of the Constitution and the circumstances of its ratification.

[275] The justice draws inferences from the "three-cornered power relation hips" found in the Constitution.

He gives as example "separation of powers." In other words, a justic relies, not on the text of the Constitution, but on structure.

[276] This relies on established precedents. For Bernas, the Supreme Court Decisions are, to a certain extent, a "second set of constitutional texts."

[277] This form of interpretation "seeks to interpret the Filipino moral commitments that are embedded in the constitutional document. The Constitution, are all, as the Preamble says, is meant to be an embodiment of 'our ideals and aspirations.' Among these may be our innate religiosity, respect for human dignity, and the celebration of cultural and ethnic diversity."

[278] The justice weighs and compares the costs to benefits that might be found in conflicting rules.

[279] Madisonian Tectonics: How Form Follows Function in Constitutional and Architectural Interpretation, Jonathan Turley, The George Washington Law Review, Vol. 83: 308.

[280] Eskridge, William N. Jr., "Relationships between Formalism and Functionalism in Separation of Powers  Cases" (1998).  Faculty  Scholarship  Series Available  online  at http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/fss_papers/3807. Last Accessed on: 8 March 2016.

[281] Angara v. Electoral Commission, 63 Phil. 139 (1936).

[282] 252 u.s. 416 (1920).

[283] Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, Vol. 29, pp. 401-415.

[284] Petition, p. 12.

[285] Tañada and Fernando, Constitution of the Philippines, VoL I, 4th Ed., pp. 23-24 (1952).

[286] Tañada and Fernando, Constitution of the Philippines, Vol. I, 4th Ed. p. 13. (1952).

[287] A majority of the delegates elected - 142 out of 202 were lawyers. Of these lawyers, 10 were law professors. Likewise there were 6 other educators who were elected as delegates, 2 of them political scientists. There were also a respectable number of farmers and businessmen. Fifty-five of them can be classified under this category. Almost a majority of the total number of delegates had previously served as public officials mostly in an elective capacity. Thus there were many former senators, and representatives and assemblymen in the ranks of the delegates (Id. at 6).

[288] Martin v. Hunter's Lessee, 14 U.S. 304 (1816).

[289] Calalang v. Williams, 70 Phil. 726 (1940).

[290] Id.

[291] Id.

[292] Memorandum for public respondent COMELEC, p. 56.

[293] 392 Phil. 327 (2000).

[294] COMELEC Comment, p. 28.

[295] The following excerpts show that the Court characterized jus sanguinis the predominating regime of citizenship:

a) Roa v. Insular Collector of Customs (1912)

"A reading of article 17 of the Civil Code, above copied, is sufficient to show that the first paragraph affirms and recognizes the principle of nationality by place of birth, jus soli. The second, that of jus sanguinis; and the last two that of free selection, with the first predominating."

b) Torres v. Tan Chim (1940)

"In abrogating the doctrine laid down in the Roa case and making jus sanguinis the predominating principle in the determination of Philippine citizenship, the Constitution did not intend to exclude those who were citizens of the Philippines by judicial declaration at the time of its adoption. If on the strength of the Roa decision a person was considered a full-pledged Philippine citizen (Art. IV, sec. 1, No. 1) on the date of the adoption of the Constitution when jus soli had been the pr vailing doctrine, he cannot be divested of his Filipino citizenship."

c) Villahermosa v. Commissioner of Immigration (1948)

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

d) Talaroc v. Uy (1952)

"In abrogating the doctrine laid down in the Roa case and making jus sanguinis the predominating principle in the determination of Philippine citizenship, the Constitution did not intend to exclude those who were citizens of the Philippines by judicial declaration at the time of its adoption. If on the strength of the Roa decision a person was considered a full-pledged Philippine citizen (Art. IV, sec. 1, No. 1) on the date of the adoption of the Constitution when jus soli had been the prevailing doctrine, he cannot be divested of his Filipino citizenship."

[296] Translated by Licenciados Cliffor S. Walton and Nestor Ponce de Leon. Published under authority of Major-General Willam Ludlow Military Governor of Havana. Edited by Major Clifford S. Walton. Available online at https://archive.org/stream/spanishcivilcode00spairich/spanishcivilcode00spairich

_djvu.txt. (last visited at 9 March 2016).

[297] Supra note 1.

[298] Justice Vitug wrote: "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."

[299] Tecson v. Comelec citing Leon T. Garcia, The Problems of Citizenship in the Philippines, Rex Bookstore, 1949, at pp. 31-32, supra note 1.

[300] Id at. 23-26, cited in Tecson v. Comelec, supra note 1.

[301] Teeson v. Comelec, supra note 1.

[302] Tecson v. Comelec, supra note ___.

[303] Article III, Section 1 of the 1973 Constitution states:

Section 1. The following are citizens of the Philippines:

1. Those who are citizens of the Philippines at the time of the adoption of this Constitution.

xxxx

Article IV, Section 1 ofthe 1987 Constitution, states:

Section 1. The following are citizens of the Philippines:

1. Those who are citizens of the Philippines at the time the adoption of this Constitution;

xxxx

[304] 1987 Constitution, Preamble.

[305] Id.

[306] Id.

[307] 23 Phil. 315 (1912).

[308] 69 Phil. 518 (1940).

[309] 70 Phil. 287 (1940).

[310] Tañada and Fernando, Constitution of the Philippines, Vol. II, 4th Ed. (1952), p. 649.

[311] Talaroc v. Uy, 92 Phil. 52 (1952).

Facts: This is an action to contest the election of Uy to the office of Municipal Mayor on the ground that he is Chinese, therefore, ineligible. He was born in the Philippines in 1912 of a Filipino mother and a Chinese father. His parents did not get married until 1914. His father died in 1917, while his mother died in 1949. Uy had voted in previous elections and held various positions in the government. He never went to China.    

Held: On the strength of the Roa doctrine, Uy can be considered a Filipino citizen on the date of the adoption of the Constitution when jus soli has been the prevailing doctrine. The status of those persons who were considered Filipino citizens under the prevailing doctrine of jus soli would not be affected by the change of doctrine upon the effectivity of the Philippine Constitution.

[312] Id.

[313] 92 Phil. 61 (1952).

[314] 70 Phil. 161-166 (1940).

[315] 223 Phil. 357-363 (1985).

[316] U.S. Constitution, Art. II, Sec. I.

[317] Jack Maskell, "Qualifications for President and the 'Natural Born' Citizenship Eligibility Requirement", Congressional Research Service, 14 November 2011 <https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42097.pdf> (last visited 8 March 2016).

[318] Lawrence B. Solum, Commentary, "Originalism and the Natural Born Citizen Clause," 107 Mich. L. Rev First Impressions 22, 22 (2010).

[319] Id.

[320] Id.

[321] Id. at 26.

[322] See id; F.E. Edwards, Natural Born British Subjects at Common Law, 14 Journal of the Society of Comparative Legislation 314, 315 (1914) <http://www.jstor.org/stable/752349> (last visited 8 March 2016).

[323] A Dictionary Of The English Language: In Which The Words are Deduced from Their Originals, And Illustrated in Their Different Significations By Examples from the Best Writers, To Which Are Prefixed, A History of the Language, And An English Grammar (2nd ed. 1756).

[324] The Founders' Constitution, Volume 2, Article I, Section 8, Clause 4 (Citizenship), Document I, The University of Chicago Press http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/a1_8_4_citizenships1.html (last visited 8 March 2016).

[325] Sections 4 and 7, Article VI of the 1935 Constitution state:
Section 4. No person shall be a Senator unless he be a natural born citizen of the Philippines and, at the time of his election, is at least thirty-five years of age, a qualified elector, and a resident of the Philippines for not less than two years immediately prior to his election.

Section 7. No person shall be a Member of the House of Representatives unless he be a natural born citizen of the Philippines, and, at the time of his election, is at least twenty­ five years of age, a qualified elector, and a resident of the province in which he is chosen for not less than one year immediately prior to his election.
Section 3, Art. VII of the 1935 Constitution, states:
Section 3. No person may be elected to the office of President or Vice-President, unless he be a natural born citizen of the Philippines, a qualified voter, forty years of age or over, and has been a resident of the Philippines for at least ten years immediately preceding the election.
[326] Tañada and Fernando, Constitution of the Philippines, Vol. II, 4th Ed. (1952), pp. 974-975.

[327] Tañada and Fernando, Constitution of the Philippines, Vol. II, 4th Ed. (1952), p. 975.

[328] Id. at 404-405.

[329] Sections 4 and 2, Art. VII of the 1973 Constitution, state:
Section 4. 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. (as amended in the January 27, 1984 Plebiscite)

Section 2. There shall be a Vice-President who shall have the same qualifications and term of office as the President and may be removed from office in the same manner as the President as provided in Article XIII, Section 2 of this Constitution.
[330] Sections 2 and 3, Art. VII of the 1987 Constitution, read:

Section 2. 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.

Section 3. There shall be a Vice-President who shall have the same qualifications and term of office and be elected with and in the same manner as the President. He may be removed from office in the same manner as the President.

[331] Section 4, Article III.

[332] This section states:

Section 1. The following are citizens of the Philippines:

xxxx

(3) Those born before January 17, 1973, of Filipino mothers, who elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority; and

xxxx

[333] 409 Phil. 633 (2001).

[334] Chief Justice (then Associate Justice) Panganiban's Concurring Opinion in Bengson III, id.

[335] 23 Phil. 315, 338 (1912).

[336] Laurel, Proceedings of the Philippine Constitutional Convention, Vol. V, p. 1032.

[337] 79 Phil. 249, 256 (1947).

[338] Id.

[339] Tañada and Fernando, supra.

[340] See: Ang Bagong Bayani-OFW v. Commission on Elections, 412 Phil. 308-374 (2001).

[341] The provision states:

SECTION 5. Registration and Certification of Births.— xxxx

In the case of an exposed child, the person who found the same shall report to the local civil registrar the place, date and hour of finding and other attendant circumstances.

[342] Commonwealth Act No. 473 (1939).

[343] Section 5 of C.A. 473 states:
SECTION 5. Declaration of Intention. One year prior to the filing of his petition for admission to Philippine citizenship, the applicant for Philippine citizenship shall file with the Bureau of Justice a declaration under oath that it is bona fide his intention to become a citizen of the Philippines. Such declaration shall set forth the name, age, occupation, personal description, place of birth, last foreign residence and allegiance, the date of arrival, the name of the vessel or aircraft, if any, in which he came to the Philippines, and the place of residence in the Philippines at the time of making the declaration. No declaration shall be valid until lawful entry for permanent residence has been established and a certificate showing the date, place, and manner of his arrival has been issued. The declarant must also state that he has enrolled his minor children, if any, in any of the public schools or private schools recognized by the Office of Private Education of the Philippines, where Philippine history, government, and civics are taught or prescribed as part ofthe school curriculum, during the entire period of the residence in the Philippines required of him prior to the hearing of his petition for naturalization as Philippine citizen. Each declarant must furnish two photographs of himself.
[344] Section 7 of C.A. 473 states:
SECTION 7. Petition for Citizenship. - Any person desiring to acquire Philippine citizenship shall file with the competent court, a petition in triplicate, accompanied by two photographs of the petitioner, setting forth his name and surname; his present and former places of residence; his occupation; the place and date of his birth; whether single or married and if the father of children, the name, age, birthplace and residence of the wife and of the children; the approximate date of his or her arrival in the Philippines, the name of the port of debarkation, and, if he remembers it, the name of the ship on which he came; a declaration that he has the qualifications required by this Act, specifying the same, and that he is not disqualified for naturalization under the provisions of this Act; that he has complied with the requirements of section five of this Act; and that he will reside continuously in the Philippines from the date of the filing of the petition up to the time of his admission to Philippine citizenship. The petition must be signed by the applicant in his own handwriting and be supported by the affidavit of at least two credible persons, stating that they are citizens of the Philippines and personally know the petitioner to be a resident of the Philippines for the period of time required by this Act and a person of good repute and morally irreproachable, and that said petitioner has in their opinion all the qualifications necessary to become a citizen of the Philippines and is not in any way disqualified under the provisions of this Act. The petition shall also set forth the names and post-office addresses of such witnesses as the petitioner may desire to introduce at the hearing of the case. The certificate of arrival, and the declaration of intention must be made part of the petition.
[345] Section 10 of C.A. 473 provides:
SECTION 10. Hearing of the Petition. No petition shall be heard within the thirty days preceding any election. The hearing shall be public, and the Solicitor-General, either himself or through his delegate or the provincial fiscal concerned, shall appear on behalf of the Commonwealth of the Philippines at all the proceedings and at the hearing. If, after the hearing, the court believes, in view of the evidence taken, that the petitioner has all the qualifications required by, and none of the disqualifications specified in, this Act and has complied with all requisites herein established, it shall order the proper naturalization certificate to be issued and the registration of the said naturalization certificate in the proper civil registry as required in section ten of Act Numbered Three thousand seven hundred and fifty-three.
[346] Pursuant to Section 12 of C.A. 473, the petitioner shall, in open court, take the following oath before the naturalization certificate is issued:
"I, _________________, solemnly swear that I renounce absolutely and forever all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state of sovereignty, and particularly to the _________ of which at this time I am a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution of the Philippines and that I will obey the laws, legal orders and decrees promulgated by the duly constituted authorities of the Commonwealth of the Philippines; and I hereby declare that I recognize and accept the supreme authority of the United States of America in 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.

"So help me God."
[347] Rule 28 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Act No. 3753 and Other Laws on Civil Registration (NSO Administrative Order No. 1-93 [1992]) provides:
Immediately after finding a foundling, the finder shall report the case to the barangay captain of the place where the foundling was found, or to the police headquarters, whichever is nearer or convenient to the finder. When the report is duly noted either by the barangay captain or by the police authority, the finder shall commit the child to the care of the Department of Social Welfare and Development or to a duly licensed orphanage or charitable or similar institution. Upon commitment, the finder shall give to the charitable institution his copy of the Certificate of Foundling, if he had registered the foundling. (emphasis supplied)
[348] Pursuant to R.A. 9523 (2009), the DSWD may declare a child legally available for adoption in accordance with the following procedure:
SECTION 4. Procedure for the Filing of the Petition. - The petition shall be filed in the regional office ofthe DSWD where the child was found or abandoned.

The Regional Director shall examine the petition and its supporting documents, if sufficient in form and substance and shall authorize the posting of the notice of the petition in conspicuous places for five (5) consecutive days in the locality where the child was found.

The Regional Director shall act on the same and shall render a recommendation not later than five (5) working days after the completion of its posting. He/she shall transmit a copy of his/her recommendation and records to the Office ofthe Secretary within forty­eight (48) hours from the date of the recommendation.

SECTION 5. Declaration of Availability for Adoption. - Upon finding merit in the petition, the Secretary shall issue a certification declaring the child legally available for adoption within seven (7) working days from receipt of the recommendation.

Said certification, by itself, shall be the sole basis for the immediate issuance by the local civil registrar of a foundling certificate. Within seven (7) working days, the local civil registrar shall transmit the foundling certificate to the National Statistics Office (NSO).
[349] Rules and Regulations to Implement the Domestic Adoption Act of 1998, IRR-R.A. 8552, Section 5 (1998).

[350] Section 16, R.A. 8552.

[351] Republic v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 97906, 21 May 1992.

[352] Section 14, R.A. 8552.

[353] Id.

[354] See Baldos v. Court of Appeals and Pillazar, 638 Phil. 601 (2010); Heirs of Cabais v. Court of Appeals, 374 Phil. 681-691 (1999).

[355] Sections 14 and 15 of R.A. 8552 state:
Section 14. Civil Registry Record. - An amended certificate of birth shall be issued by the Civil Registry, as required by the Rules of Court, attesting to the fact that the adoptee is the child of the adopter(s) by being registered with his/her surname. The original certificate of birth shall be stamped "cancelled" with the annotation of the issuance of an amended birth certificate in its place and shall be sealed in the civil registry records. The new birth certificate to be issued to the adoptee shall not bear any notation that it is an amended issue.

Section 15. Confidential Natltre of Proceedings and Records. - All hearings in adoption cases shall be confidential and shall not be open to the public. All records, books, and papers relating to the adoption cases in the files of the court, the Department, or any other agency or institution participating in the adoption proceedings shall be kept strictly confidential.

If the court finds that the disclosure of the information to a third person is necessary for purposes connected with or arising out of the adoption and will be for the best interest of the adoptee, the court may merit the necessary information to be released, restricting the purposes for which it may be used.
[356] 601 F.2d 1225, 1235 (2d Cir. 1979).

[357] 444 U.S. 995, 100 S. Ct. 531,62 L. Ed. 2d 426 (1979).

[358] 409 Phil. 633-672 (2001).

[359] Reacquisition of Philippine Citizenship by Persons Who Served in US Armed Forces (1960).

[360] See Sobejana-Condon v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 198742, 692 Phil. 407-431 (2012).

[361] See Parrefio v. COA, G.R. No. 162224, 551 Phil. 368-381 (2007).

[362] Article IV, Section 2, states:

Section 2. Philippine citizenship may be lost or re-acquired in the manner provided by law.

[363] In Bengson v. HRET (409 PHIL 633-672 [2001]), the Court declared: "A person who at the time of his birth is a citizen of a particular country, is a natural-born citizen thereof." (Emphasis supplied)

[364] Sections 2 and 3 of Commonwealth Act 63 provides:
SECTION 2. How citizenship may be reacquired. - Citizenship may be reacquired:

(1) By naturalization: Provided, That the applicant possess none of the disqualifications prescribed in section two of Act Numbered Twenty-nine hundred and twenty-seven;

(2) By repatriation of deserters of the Army, Navy or Air Corps Provided, That a woman who lost her citizenship by reason of her marriage to an alien may be repatriated in accordance with the provisions of this Act after the termination of the marital status; and (3) By direct act of the National Assembly.

SECTION 3. Procedure incident to reacquisition of Philippine citizenship. - The procedure prescribed for naturalization under Act Numbered Twenty-nine hundred and twenty-seven, as amended; shall apply to the reacquisition of Philippine citizenship by naturalization provided for in the next preceding section: Provided, That the qualitications and special qualifications prescribed in section three and four of said Act shall not be required: And provided, further,

(1) That the applicant be at least twenty-one years of age and shall have resided in the Philippines at least six months before he applies for naturalization;

(2) That he shall have conducted himself in a proper and irreproachable manner during the entire period of his residence in the Philippines, in his relations with the constituted government as well as with the community in which he is living; and

(3) That he subscribes to an oath declaring his intention to renounce absolutely and perpetually all faith and allegiance to the foreign authority, state or sovereignty of which he was a citizen or subject.
[365] Commonwealth Act No. 63, Ways in Which Philippine Citizenship May be Lost or Reacquired (1936).

[366] An Act Providing for Reacquisition of Philippine Citizenship by Persons Who Lost Such Citizenship by Rendering Service To, or Accepting Commission In, the Armed Forces of the United States (1960).

[367] Repatriation of Filipino Women and of Natural-Born Filipinos Who Lost Their Philippine Citizenship (1995).

[368] Article II, Section 2 ofthe 1987 Constitution, provides:

The Philippines xxx adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land and adheres to the policy of peace, equality, justice, freedom, cooperation, and amity with all nations.

[369] Article 38(1)(b) of the Statute of the International Court of Justice states:
1. The Court, whose function is to decide in accordance with international law such disputes as are submitted to it, shall apply:

xxx

a. international custom, as evidence of a general practice accepted as law;
[370] Razon, Jr. v. Tagitis, 621 Phil. 536-635 (2009)

[371] Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Proposed Amendments to the Naturalization Provision of the Constitution of Costa Rica. Advisory Opinion OC-4/84 of January 19, 1984. Series A No. 4, para. 35.

[372] International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 24; United Nations Convention on the Rights ofthe Child, Article 7.

[373] See the 1997 European Convention on Nationality, Article 6; 1969 American Convention on Human Rights (Pact of San Jose, Costa Rica), Article 20; 1999 African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Article 6; 2008 Revised Arab Charter on Human Rights, Article 29.

[374] Article 14 of the Convention states:
A child whose parents are both unknown shall have the nationality of the country of birth. If the child's parentage is established, its nationality shall be determined by the rules applicable in cases where the parentage is known.

A foundling is, until the contrary is proved, presumed to have been born on the territory of the State in which it was found.
[375] Article 2 of the Convention provides:
Article 2

A foundling found in the territory of a Contracting State shall, in the absence of proof to the contrary, be considered to have been born within that territory of parents possessing the nationality of that State.
[376] Article 6(1)(b) of the Convention states:
Article 6 - Acquisition of nationality

l. Each State Party shall provide in its internal law for its nationality to be acquired ex lege by the following persons:

xxx

(b) foundlings found in its territory who would otherwise be stateless.
[377] Based on the databases of the United Nations Treaty Collection (https://treaties.un.org), the number of state parties in the conventions mentioned are as follows: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 168; Convention on the Rights of the Child 196; Hague Convention on Certain Questions Relating to the Conflict of Nationality Laws - 13; Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness - 65; European Convention on Nationality 20.

[378] See Jurisdictional Immunities of the State (Germany v. Italy), Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 2012, p. 99; Arrest Warrant of 11 April 2000 (Democratic Republic of Congo v. Belgium), I.C.J. Reports 2002, p. 3.

[379] Argentina (See Database of European Union Democracy Observatory on Citizenship); Bolivia (Article 141, New Constitution of Bolivia); Brazil (Article 12[1], Constitution of the Federative Republic of Brazil); Chile (Article 10, Constitution); Cuba (Article 29, The Constitution of the Republic of Cuba as amended); Dominica (Article 98, Constitution of the Commonwealth of Dominica, 1978); Dominican Republic (Article 18, Constitution), Ecuador (Article 7, Ecuador Constitution); El Salvador (Article 90, Constitution of the Republic of El Salvador as amended), Equatorial Guinea (Article 10, Fundamental Law of Equatorial Guinea, 1982); Grenada (Item 96, 97, Grenada Constitution, 7 February 1974); Guatemala (Article 144, Guatemalan Constitution), Jamaica (Item 3B, Jamaican Constitution August 1962); Kiribati (Kiribati Independence Order dated July 12, 1979); Niger (Directory of Citizenship Laws compiled by the United States Office of Personnel Management Investigations Service); Pakistan (Sections 4 and 5, Pakistan Citizenship Act 1951, as amended); Palau (The Citizenship Act, 13 PNCA, 1 January 1995); Panama (Article 9, Constitution of Panama); Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (Items 90-91, Constitution of 1979); Tanzania (Sections 5 and 6, Tanzania Citizenship Act No. 6 of 1995, 10 October 1995); Thailand (Section 7, Nationality Act B.E.2508); Venezuela (Article 32, Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela) and Zimbabwe (Section 5, Constitution of Zimbabwe).

[380] Afghanistan (Article 3, Law of Citizenship in Afghanistan, 6 November 1936); Albania (Article 8[1], Law on Albanian Citizenship, Law No. 8389, 6 September 1998); Algeria (Article 7, Ordonnance No. 70-86 du 15 decembre 1970 portant code de Ia nationalite algerienne, 18 December 1970); Andorra (Nationality Act, 5 October 1997); Angola (Article 9, Constituicao da Republica de Angola aos, 21 Janeiro de 2010); Antigua and Barbuda (Article 3[1], Constitution of Antigua and Barbuda) Armenia (Article 12, Law of the Republic of Armenia on the Citizenship of the Republic of Armenia as amended, 27 November 2005); Australia (Section 14, Australian Citizenship Act 2007); Austria (Article 8(1), Federal Law Concerning the Austrian Nationality [Nationality Act of 1985]); Azerbaijan (Article 13, Law of the Azerbaijan Republic on Citizenship of the Azerbaijan Republic, 15 March 1994); Bahrain (Item No. 5[B], Bahraini Citizenship Act for 1963, 16 September 1963); Barbados (Cap. 186, Section 4[1], Barbados Citizenship Act); Belgium (Code of Belgian Nationality, 28 June 1984), Belize (Part III, 7, Belizean Nationality Act, Cap. 161); Benin (Article 10, Code de Ia nationalitedahomeenn, Loi No. 65-17, 23 June 1 965); Bosnia and Herzegovina (Section 7, Bosnia and Herzegovina Nationality Law, 7 October 1992); Bulgaria (Article 11, Law on Bulgarian Citizenship, November 1998); Burkina Fasp (Zatu No. An VIA 0013/FP/PRES du 16 Novembre 1989); Burundi (Article 3, Loi No 1/013 du 18 juillet 2000 portantreforme du code de la nationalite, 18 July 2000), Cambodia (Article 4 [2] [b], Law on Nationality, 9 October 1996); Cameroon (Section 9, Law No. 1968-LF-3 of the 11th June 1968 to set up the Cameroon Nationality Code); Canada (Section 4[1], Canadian Citizenship Act); Cape Verde (Nationality law, Law No. 80/III/90, from 29th of June); Central African Republic (Article I 0, RepubliqueCentrafricaine: Loi No. 1961.212 du 1961 portant code de la nationalitecentrafricaine, 21 April 1961); Chad (Ordonnance 33/PG.-INT. du 14 aoftt 1962 code de la nationalitetchadienne as cited in the Directory of Citizenship Laws compiled by the United States Office of Personnel Management Investigations Service); China (Article 6, Nationality Law of the People's Republic of China, 10 September 1980); Comoros (Article 13, Code of Nationality, Law No. 79-12); Costa Rica (Article 13[4), Political Constitution of the Republic of Costa Rica), Croatia (Law of Croatian Citizenship, June 1991); Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti (Article 6, Code de la NationaliteDjiboutienne [Djibouti], Loi n°79/AN/04/5eme L, 24 October 2004); Democratic Republic of Congo (Article 2[3], LOI No. 87.010 Du ler AOUT 1987, Portant Code de la Famille); Egypt (Article 2[4], Law No. 26 of 1975 Concerning Egyptian Nationality, Official Journal No. 22, 29 May 1975), Eritrea (Item 2[3], Eritrean Nationality Proclamation No. 2111992, 6 April 1992); Estonia (Section 5[2], Citizenship Act of Estonia); Ethiopia (Article 3[2], Proclamation No. 378/2003, A Proclamation on Ethiopian Nationality, 23 December 2003); Fiji (Section 7, Citizenship of Fiji Decree 2009); Finland (Section 12, Finnish Nationality Act 359/2003 as amended); France (Article 19, Title 1, French Civil Code), G. Bissau, Gabon (Article 11[2], Code de la Nationalite Loi No. 37-1998); Georgia (Article 15, Organic Law of Georgia on Georgian Citizenship); Germany (Section 4[2], Nationality Act of 22 July 1913 as amended); Ghana (Citizenship Act, Act 591, 5 January 2001); Greece (Article 1[2][b], Greek Citizenship Code); Guinea (Directory of Citizenship Laws compiled by the United States Office of Personnel Management Investigations Service); Guinea Bissau (Article 5[2], Lei da Cidadania Lei n.o 2/92 De 6 de Abril); Guyana (Item 8[2], Guyana Citizenship Act, Cap. 14:01); Haiti (Article 4, Haiti Citizenship Act); Honduras (Article 23, Constitution of the Republic of Honduras); Hungary (Section 3[3][b], Act LV of 1993 as amended); Iceland (Article 1[1], Icelandic Nationality Act No. 100/1952, 1 January 1953); Indonesia (Article 4[9], 4[10], 4[11], Law of the Republic of Indonesia No. 12 on Citizenship of the Republic of Indonesia, 1 August 2006); Iran (Article 976[3], Iran Nationality Law); Iraq (Article 4[6], Law No. 46 of 1963); Ireland (Item 10, Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 as amended), Israel (Article 4[A], Nationality Law 5712-1952, 14 July 1953); Italy (Article 1[2], Law no. 91/1992); Jamaica, Japan (Article 2[3], Nationality Law - Law No.147 of 1950, as amended); Jordan (Article 3[4], Jordanian Nationality Law 1954, Law No. 6 of 1954 on Nationality, 1 January 1954); Kazakhstan (Article 13, Law on Citizenship of the Republic of Kazakhstan, 1 March 1992); Kenya (Article 9, Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act No. 12 of 2011, 30 August 2011); Korea (Article 2[1][3], 2[2] Law No. 16 of 1948, Nationality Act as amended, 20 December 1948); Kosovo (Article 7, Law Nr. 03/L-034 on Citizenship of Kosovo); Kuwait (Article 3, Nationality Law of 1959); Kyrgyz Republic (Article 2[5], The Law of the Kyrgyz Republic on citizenship of the Kyrgyz Republic as amended, 21 March 2007); Lao PDR (Law on Lao Nationality, 29 November 1990); Latvia (Section 2(1)(3) and 2(1)(5), Law of Citizenship 1994 [as amended]); Lebanon (Article 1[3], Decree No.15 on Lebanese Nationality including Amendments, 19 January 1925); Lesotho (Item 38, Lesotho Constitution of 1993, 2 April 1993); Liberia (Constitution of the Republic of Liberia); Libya (Section 3, Item 3, Law Number (24) for 2010/1378 On Libyan Nationality, 24 May 2010); Liechtenstein (Section 4[a], Act of 4 January 1934 on the Acquisition and Loss of Citizenship); Lithuania (Article 16, Republic of Lithuania Law on Citizenship No. XI-1196, 2 December 2010); Luxembourg (Article 1[2], Luxembourg Nationality Law of 23 October 2008); Macedonia (Article 6, Law on Citizenship of the Republic of Macedonia); Madagascar (Directory of Citizenship Laws compiled by the United States Office of Personnel Management Investigations Service); Malawi (Item 2[5), Malawi Citizenship Act 1966); Malaysia (Second Schedule [Article 39], Part 1: Citizenship by Operation of Law of Persons Born before Malaysia Day [Article 14[l][a] Section 1, Federal Constitution of Malaysia, 31 August 1957); Mali (Article 11, Loi No. 6218 AN-RM du 3 fevrier 1962 portant Code de la nationalitemalienne); Malta (Item 17[3], Maltese Citizenship Act); Marshall Islands (Directory of Citizenship Laws compiled by the United States Office of Personnel Management Investigations Service); Mauritania (Article 11, Loi N° 1961-112, Loiportant code de la nationalitemauritanienne); Mexico (Article 7, Law of Nationality as cited in the database of European Union Democracy Observatory on Citizenship); Moldova (Article 11[2], Law on Citizenship of the Republic of Moldova); Mongolia (Article 7[4], Law of Mongolia on Citizenship, 5 June 1995); Montenegro (Article 7, Montenegrin Citizenship Act); Morocco (Article 11, Code de la nationalitemarocaine (2011), Dahir n. 1-58-250 du 21 safar 1378, 6 September 1958); Mozambique (Article 10[b], Nationality Act, 25 June 1975); Nepal (Item 3[3], Nepal Citizenship Act 2063, 2006), Netherlands (Article 3 (2), Netherlands Nationality Act as in force on 8 February 2015); New Zealand (Section 6, Citizenship Act 1977 061); Nicaragua (Article 16[4), Constitution of Nicaragua); Norway (Section 4, Act on Norwegian Nationality); Oman (Article 1 [3], Royal Decree No. 3/83 - Law on the Organization of the Omani Nationality); Papua New Guinea (Section 77, Constitution); Paraguay (Article 146[1], Constitution of Paraguay); Peru (Article 2[2], Constitution); Poland (Article 15, Law of 2 April 2009 on Polish Citizenship); Portugal (Article 1[2] Portuguese Nationality Act, Law 37/81 of 3 October as amended); Qatar (Article 1[3], Law No. 38 of 2005 on the Acquisition of Qatari nationality 3812005); Romania (Article 3(1), Law No. 21 of 1 March 1991), Russia (Article 12[2], Federal Law on the Citizenship of the Russian Federation, 15 May 2002); Rwanda (Article 9, Organic Law N° 30/2008 of 25/07/2008 relating to Rwandan Nationality 25 July 2008); Saint Kitts and Nevis (Items 95[5][c], 1983 Constitution); Saint Lucia (Article 7[2] of the Law of Nationality, Constitution of I 978 as cited in the database of European Union Democracy Observatory on Citizenship); Samoa (Part II, Item 6(3),Citizenship Act of 2004); San Marino (See Council of Europe bulletin: http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/standardsetting/nationality/Bulletin_en_files/San%20Marino%20E.pdf); Sao Tome & Principe (Article 5(1) (e) and 5(2), Law of Nationality dated September 13, 1990); Saudi Arabia (Item No. 7[2], Saudi Arabian Citizenship System (Regulation), Decision no. 4 of 25/1/1374 Hijra, 23 September 1954); Serbia (Article 13, Law on Citizenship of the Republic of Serbia); Singapore (Article 140[13], Third Schedule, Constitution of the Republic of Singapore, 9 August 1965); Slovakia (Section 5(2)(b), Act No. 40/1993 Coli. On nationality of the Slovak Republic of 19 January 1993); Slovenia (Article 9, Citizenship of the Republic of Slovenia Act); Somalia (Article 15, Law No. 28 of 22 December 1962 Somali Citizenship as amended); South Africa (Article 44, South African Citizenship Act No. 88 of 1995); South Sudan (Item 8[4], Nationality Act of 2011, 7 July 2011); Spain (Spanish Civil Code, Book One Title I, Article 17[1][d]); Sri Lanka (Item No. 7, Citizenship Act of Sri Lanka); Sudan (Section 5, Sudanese Nationality Act 1994); Suriname (Article 4, State Ordinance of24 November 1975 for the Regulation of the Surinamese Nationality and Residence in Suriname), Swaziland (Section 17, Swaziland Citizenship Act, 1992, Act 14/1992, 1 December 1992); Sweden (Section 2, Swedish Citizenship Act); Switzerland (Article 6, Federal Act on the Acquisition and Loss of Swiss Citizenship as amended); Taiwan (Article 2[3], Nationality Act as amended, 5 February 1929), Tajikistan (Article 19, 13 Constitutional Law of the Republic of Tajikistan on Nationality of the Republic of Tajikistan, 8 August 2015); Timor-Leste (Section 3[2][b], Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Timor Leste); Togo (Article 2, Nationality Act); Tunisia (Articles 9 and 10, Code of Tunisian Nationality Law No. 63-6); Turkey (Article 8, Turkish Citizenship Law of 2009); Turkmenistan (Article II [1][8], Law of 2013 on Citizenship, 22 June 2013) Uganda (Item II, Constitution of the Republic of Uganda); Ukraine (Article 7, Law on Ukrainian Citizenship); United Arab Emirates (Article 2[5], Federal Law No. 17 for 1972 Concerning Nationality, Passports and Amendments Thereof, 18 November 1972); United Kingdom (Part I, Item 1(2), British Nationality Act of 1984); United States of America (Immigration and Nationality Act 301(a), 302, 306, 307); Uruguay (Article 74, Constitution of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay); Uzbekistan (Article 16, Law on Citizenship in the Republic of Uzbekistan, 28 July 1992); Vietnam (Article 18, Law on Vietnamese Nationality, Resolution No: 24/2008/QH12, 13 November 2008); and Yemen (Law No.6 of 1990 on Yemeni Nationality, 26 August 1990).

[381] See for instance the Law of Nationality of Mexico, Law No. 63-6.

[382] See the Portuguese Nationality Act, Law 37/81, of 3 October as amended; Spanish Civil Code, Book One: Title II; Cameroon Law No. 1968-LF-3 of the 11th June 1968; Loi n° 1961.212 du 1961 portant code de la nationalitecentrafricaine of the Central African Republic; Code of Nationality, Law No. 79-12 of Comoros; Loi No. 6218 AN-RM du 3 fevrier 1962 portant Code de la nationalitemalienne of Mali; Code de Ia nationalitemarocaine (2011), Dahir n. 1-58-250 du 21 safar 1378, 6 September 1958 of Morocco; Law of Nationality dated September 13, 1990 of Sao Tome and Principe; Law No. 28 of 22 December 1962 Somali Citizenship as amended; Code of Tunisian Nationality Law No. 63.

[383] See Delimitation of the Maritime Boundary in the Gulf of Maine Area (Canada/United States of America), Judgment, ICJ Reports 1984, p. 299.

[384] Article 24 of the ICCPR states:
  1. Every child shall have, without any discrimination as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, national or social origin, property or birth, the right to such measures of protection as are required by his status as a minor, on the part of his family, society and the State.
  2. Every child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have a name.
  3. Every child has the right to acquire a nationality.
[385] Article 7 of the CRC states:
  1. The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right fi:om birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and. as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents.

  2. States Parties shall ensure the implementation of these rights in accordance with their national law and their obligations under the relevant international instruments in this field, in particular where the child would otherwise be stateless.
[386] Annual Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and Reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary General. Arbitrary deprivation of nationality: report of the Secretary-General, A/HRC/10/34, 26 January 2009.

[387] Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding observations on the combined 2-4th Periodic Reports of Fiji, adopted by the committee at its sixty-seventh session (1-19 September 2014), CRC/C/FIJ/C0/2-4.

[388] 454 Phil. 504-642 (2003).

[389] The Preamble of the 1935 Constitution states:
The Filipino people, imploring the aid of Divine Providence, in order to establish a government that shall embody their ideals, conserve and develop the patrimony of the nation, promote the general welfare, and secure to themselves and their posterity the blessings of independence under a regime of justice, liberty, and democracy, do ordain and promulgate this Constitution.
[390] The Preamble of the 1987 Constitution provides:
We, the sovereign Filipino people, imploring the aid of Almighty God, in order to build a just and humane society, and establish a Government that shall embody our ideals and aspirations, promote the common good, conserve and develop our patrimony, and secure to ourselves and our posterity, the blessings of independence and democracy under the rule of law and a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality, and peace, do ordain and promulgate this Constitution.
[391] Id.

[392] Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Proposed Amendments to the Naturalization Provision of the Constitution of Costa Rica. Advisory Opinion OC-4/84 of January 19, 1984. Series A No. 4, para. 35.

[393] See Dissenting Opinion of Chief Justice Warren in 2 356 U.S. 44, 64-65, 78 S. Ct. 568, 579-80, 2 L. Ed. 2d 603 (1958).

[394] Batchelor, Carol A. Developments in International Law: the Avoidance of Statelessness through Positive Application of the Right to a Nationality. 1st European Convention on Nationality. (Strasbourg, 18 and 19 October 1999).

[395] 1987 Constitution, Article V, Section 1.

[396] Id., Article XIV, Section 1 (right to quality education at all levels); Article XIV, Section 2(5) (right to be provided training in civics, vocational efficiency and other skills).

[397] Id., Section 18, Article XI.

[398] The following economic rights are restricted to Philippine citizens under the Constitution: right to the exclusive use and enjoyment of the nation's marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and exclusive economic zoml (Article XII, Section 2); right to engage in small-scale utilization of natural resources (Article XII, Section 2); right to lease not more than five hundred hectares, or acquire not more than twelve hectares of public alienable land, by purchase, homestead, or grant (Article XII, Section 3); right to be a transferee of public land (Article XII, Section 7);

[399] These include the right to participate in certain areas of investments (Article XII, Section 10); right to be granted a franchise certificate, or any other form of authorization for the operation of a public utility (Article XII, Section 11);

[400] The Constitution allows only citizens to exercise the following rights: the right to be the executive and managing officers of a corporation or association engaged in any public utility enterprise (Article XII, Section 11 ); Right to practice a profession (Article XII, Section 14); right to own, control and administer educational institutions (Article XIV, Section [2]); Right to own and manage mass media (Article XVI, Section 11[1]); Right to become an executive and managing officer of an entity engaged in the advertising industry (Article XVI, Section 11[2]); Right to engage in the advertising industry (Article XVI, Section 11[2]).

The ownership of the following businesses are also reserved for Philippine citizens: Retail trade enterprises with paid-up capital of less than US $2,500,000 (Section 5, R.A. 8762); cooperatives (Chapter III, Article 26, R.A. 6938); private security agencies (Section 4, R.A. 5487); small-scale mining (Section 3[C], R.A. 7076); ownership, operation and management of cockpits (Section 5[a], PD 449); Manufacture of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices (Section 5, R.A. 7183).

[401] Article Xll, Section 14; The following professions are also restricted by statute: Aeronautical engineering (Section 14[b], R.A. 1570); Agricultural engineering (Section 13[a], R.A. 8559); Chemical engineering (Section 2, R.A. 9297); Civil engineering (Section 12[b], R.A. 544); Electrical engineering (Section 16[a], R.A. 7920); Electronics and communication engineering (Section 14[a], R.A. 9292); Geodetic engineering (Section 12[a], R.A. 8560); Mechanical engineering (Section 14[a], R.A. 8495); Metallurgical engineering (Section 17[a], R.A. 10688); Mining engineering (Section 19[a], R.A. 4274); Naval architecture and marine engineering (Section 11[b], R.A. 4565); Sanitary engineering (Section 17[b], R.A. 1364); Medicine (Section 9[1], R.A. 2382 as amended); Medical technology (Section 8[1], R.A. 5527 as amended); Dentistry (Section 14[a], R.A. 9484); Midwifery (Section 13, R.A. 7392); Nursing (Section 13[a], R.A. 9173); Nutrition and dietetics (Section 18[a], P.D. 1286); Optometry (Section 19[a], R.A. 8050); Pharmacy (Section 18[a], R.A. 5921); Physical and occupational therapy (Section 15[a], R.A. 5680); Radiologic and x-ray technology (Section 19[a], R.A. 7431); Veterinary medicine (Section 15[a], R.A. 9268); Accountancy (Section 14[a], R.A. 9298); Architecture (Section 13[a], R.A. 9266); Criminology (Section 12[a], R.A. 6506); Chemistry (Section 13[a], R.A. 754); Customs brokerage (Section 16[a], R.A. 9280); Environmental planning (Section 13[b], P.D. 1308); Forestry (Section 14[b], R.A. 6239); Geology (Section 15, R.A. 4209); Interior design (Section 13[a], R.A. 8534); Law (Art. VIII, Section 5[5], 1987 Constitution; Rule 138[2], Rules of Court); Librarianship (Section 15[a], R.A. 9246); Marine deck officers (Section 14[a], R.A. 8544); Marine engine officers (Section 14[a], R.A. 8544); Master plumbing (Section 12[b], R.A. 1378); Sugar technology (Section 14[a], R.A. 5197); Social work (Section 12[a], R.A. 4373); Teaching (Section 15[a], R.A. 7836); Agriculture (R.A. 8435); Fisheries (Section 2[b], R.A. 8550); Guidance counseling (Section 13[a], R.A. 9258); Real estate service (Section 14[a], R.A. 9646); Respiratory therapy (R.A. 10024); and Psychology (Section 12[a], R.A. 10029).

[402] Right to manufacture, repair, stockpile and/or distribute biological, chemical and radiological weapons and anti-personnel mines; and the right to manufacture, repair, stockpile and/or distribute nuclear weapons (10th Foreign Negative Investment List, Executive Order 184, 29 May 2015, citing Article II, Section 8 of the 1987 Constitution and Conventions and Treaties to which the Philippines is a signatory); and right to become members oflocal police agencies (Section 9[1] R.A. 4864).

[403] See Civil Code, Article 15. The next section includes a more detailed discussion of adoption and foundlings.

[404] See Section 2, R.A. 4090: Providing for State Scholarships for Poor But Deserving Students (1964); Part V(A)(1)(1.3), Amended Implementing Rules and Regulations for Republic Act No. 7687, DOST­-DepED Joint Circular (2005); Section 5 (a) (i), Administrative Order No. 57, Educational Reform Assistance Package for Mindanaoan Muslims (1999).

[405] The following  positions  in the Executive branch must be occupied  by natural-born  Philippine citizens: President  (Article  VII,  Section  2,  1987  Constitution);  Vice-President  (Article  VII, Section  3,  1987 Constitution);  Director or Assistant Director of the Bureau of Mines and Geo-Sciences  (Section 2, PD 1281 as amended by PD 1654 [1979]; Undersecretary of Defense for Munitions (Section 2, R.A. 1884, Establishment  of a Government  Arsenal [1957]);  Assistant  Director  of the Forest  Research  Institute (Section 7[a], PD 607, Creating the Forest Research Institute in the Department of Natural  Resources [1974]); Officers of the Philippine Coast Guard (Section 12, R.A. 9993, Philippine Coast Guard Law of 2009 [2010]);  Commissioner  or  Deputy Commissioners  of  Immigration  (Section  4[b],  C.A. 613, The Philippine  Immigration Act of 1940 [1940]); Secretary and Undersecretary  of the Department of Agrarian  Reform  (Section  50,  R.A. 3844  as amended  by  R.A. 6389  [1971]);  Directors,  Assistant Directors of Bureaus in the Department of Agrarian Reform (Section 50-G, R.A. 3844 as amended  by R.A. 6389, Agricultural  Land Reform Code [1971]); Chairman and Commissioners  of the Tariff Commission  (Section  502, PD 1464 as amended,  Harmonized  Commodity  Description  and Coding System 2002 Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines [2002]);  Director or Assistant  Directors of the  Bureau  of  Forest Development  (Section  6,  PD 705,  Revised  Forestry  Code  of the  Philippines [1975]); City Fiscal and Assistant City Fiscals of Manila  (Section  38, R.A. 409 as amended  by R.A. 4631, Revised Charter of City of Manila [1965]); and Prosecutors in the National Prosecution Service (Section 603, DOJ Department Circular No. 050-10, [2010]).

In the legislative  branch, the occupants  of the following  posts are required  to be natural-born  citizens: Senator (Article VI, Section 6, 1987 Constitution);  Members of the House of Representatives  (Article VI, Section 3, 1987 Constitution); nominees for party-list representatives (Section 9, Party-List System Act, R.A. 7941 [1995]).

The following  members of the judicial  branch are required to be natural-born citizens: Members of the Supreme Court and lower collegiate courts (Article VIII, Section 7, 1987 Constitution); Regional Trial Court Judges (Section  15, BP 129 as amended by R.A. 8369, the Family Courts Act of 1997 [1997]); Judges of a Metropolitan Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court, or Municipal Circuit Trial Court (Section 26, BP 129 as amended); Presiding Judge and Associate Justices of the Sandiganbayan  (Section  1, PD 1486  as amended  by  PD 1606,  Creating  the Sandiganbayan  [1978]);  Judges  of the  Shari'a  Circuit Court (Art. 152, PD 1083, Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines [1977]).

Other constitutional  offices are reserved to natural-born citizens: Ombudsman and his Deputies (Article XI, Section 8, 1987 Constitution); BSP  Board  of  Governors (Article XII, Section 20, 1987 Constitution);  Chairman and Commissioners of the Civil Service Commission (Article IX [B], Section I, 1987 Constitution;  Book V, Title  I, Subtitle  A, Chapter  3, Section  10; Executive  Order No. 292, Administrative Code of 1987; Article V, Section 8 (b); PD 807, Civil Service Decree of the Philippines or Civil Service Law of 1975 [1975)); Chairman and Commissioners  of the Commission  on Elections (Article  IX[C], Section  I, 1987 Constitution;  Book V, Title  II, Subtitle C, Chapter 2, Section 4, EO 292, Administrative  Code of 1987 [1987]); Chairman and Commissioners of the Commission on Audit (Article IX [D], Section 1, 1987 Constitution); Chairman and Members of the Commission  on Human Rights (Article XIII, Section 17[2], 1987 Constitution; Book V, Title II, Subtitle A, Section  I, EO 292, Administrative Code of 1987 [1987]).

[406] The following positions in the local government are included: Regional Governor and Vice Governor of the ARMM (Article VII, Section 3, R.A. 9054, Strengthening and Expanding the ARMM Organic Act [2001]); Members of the Regional Assembly of the ARMM (Article VI, Section 6 [I], R.A. 9054, Strengthening and Expanding the ARMM Organic Act [2001]); Regional Secretary, Regional Undersecretaries, Assistant Regional Secretary, Assistant Secretary for Madaris, Bureau Directors, and Assistant Bureau Directors of the ARMM Department of Education (Article II, Section 22, Muslim Mindanao Autonomy Act No. 279-10, ARMM Basic Education Act of 2010 [2010]; Regional Governor and Vice Governor of the Cordillera Autonomous Region (Article V, Sections 2 and 3, R.A. 8438, Organic Act of Cordillera Autonomous Region [1997]).

[407] Members of these government commissions, boards, administrations are required to be natural-born citizens: Chairman and Members of the Energy Regulatory Commission (Section 38, R.A. 9136, Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 [2001]); Commissioners of the Commission on the Filipino Language (Section 6, R.A. 7104, Commission on the Filipino Language Act [1991]); Board of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (Section 9 [a], R.A. 10086, Strengthening Peoples' Nationalism Through Philippine History Act [2010]); Executive Director and Deputy Executive Directors of the NHCP (Section 17, R.A. 10086, Strengthening Peoples' Nationalism Through Philippine History Act [2010]); Commissioners of National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (Section 3 [a] Rules and Regulations Implementing The Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act of 1997, NCIP Administrative Order No. 01-98, [1998]); Members of Provincial, Regional and National Consultative Bodies of the NCIP (Sections 22 [a] NCIP Administrative Order No. 1-03, Guidelines for the Constitution and Operationalization ofthe Consultative Body [2003]); Chairman and Members of the Board of Agriculture (Article III, Section 6 (a] PRC Board of Agriculture Resolution No. 02-02, Rules and Regulations implementing PRC Resolution No. 2000 663 [2002]); Members of the Board of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (Section 2, PD 1986, Creating the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board [1985]); Chairman and Members of the Board of Fisheries (Article III, Section 7 [a] PRC Board of Fisheries Resolution no. 01-02, Rules and Regulations Implementing PRC Resolution No. 2000-664); Representative of Consumers at the Price Control Council (Section 2, R.A. 6124, Fixing of the Maximum Selling Price of Essential Articles or Commodities [1970]); Members of the Anti-Dummy Board (Section 1, R.A. 1130 as amended by R.A. 6082 [1969]); Chairman, Members of the Board and General Manager of the Public Estates Authority/Philippine Reclamation Authority, (Section 6, PO 1084, Charter of the Public Estates Authority [1977]); Chairman and Members of the Land Tenure Administration (Section 4, R.A. 1400, Land Reform Act of 1955 [1955]); Board of Directors of the Panay Development Authority (Section 17, R.A. 3856, Creation of Panay Development Authority [1964]; Administrator of the Agricultural Credit Administration (Section 101, R.A. 3844 as amended by R.A. 6389, Agricultural Land Reform Code [1971]); Director-General, Deputy Director-General, and Executive Directors of the National Manpower Youth Council [absorbed by TESDA pursuant to PO 850] (Article 53, PO 442 as amended by PO 850 Amendments to P.O. No. 442, Labor Code of the Philippines [1975]); Governor and Deputy Governors of the Land Authority (Section 50, R.A. 3844, Agricultural Land Reform Code, [1963]).

[408] Project Director of the Mindoro Office of the Mindoro Integrated Rural Development Office (Section 6 [a], PO 805, Implementing the Mindoro Integrated Rural Development Program and Providing Funds therefore [1975]); Project Director of the Cagayan Integrated Agricultural Development Project (Section 6 [a], PO 1189, Implementing the Cagayan Integrated Agricultural Development Project [1977]); Project Director of the Samar Office of the Samar Integrated Rural Development Project (Section 4 [a], PO 1048, Implementation of the Samar Integrated Rural Development Project [1976]); Members of the Central Luzon-Cagayan Valley Authority (Section 2 [e], R.A. 3054, Creation of Central Luzon-Cagayan Valley Authority [1961]); Project Director of the Rural Infrastructure Project Office in the DOTC (Section 3, PO 1298, Implementing the Rural Infrastructure Project [1978]); Members of the Cooperative Development Authority (Section 5 [a], R.A. 6939, Cooperative Development Authority Law [1990]); Board of Directors of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (Section 9 [b], Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992, R.A. 7227 [1992]); Program Director at the Cotabato-Agusan River Basin Program Office  (Section 3, PO 1556, Creation of the Cotabato-Agusan River Basin Program Office [1978]); Executive Director of the River Basin Council (Section 5, EO 412, Creation of Bicol River Basin Council [1973]); Board of Directors of the Philippine National Oil Company (Section 6, Presidential Decree 334 as amended by PO 405, Creating the Philippine National Oil Company); Board of Governors of the Ospital ng Bagong Lipunan (Section 3, PO 1411, Dissolving the GSIS Hospital, Inc. [1978]); Board of Directors of the Philippine Export Credit Insurance and Guarantee Corporation (Section 8, R.A. 6424, Philippine Export Credit Insurance and Guarantee Corporation Act [1972]); President of the Philippine Export and Foreign Loan Guarantee Corporation [later Trade and Investment Development Corporation, now Phil. Export­ Import Credit Agency (Section 14, PO 1080 as amended by R.A. 8494).

[409] Members of the Board of Directors of the following banks are required to be natural-born citizens: Philippine National Bank (Section 10, EO 80, The 1986 Revised Charter of the Philippine National Bank [1986]); Land Bank of the Philippines (Section 86, Republic Act No. 3844 as amended by R.A. 7907, Code of Agrarian Reform in the Phil. [1995]); Development Bank of the Philippines (Section 8, R.A. 8523, Strengthening the Development Bank of the Philippines [1998]).

[410] Presidents of State Universities imd Colleges (Section 5.1, CHED Memorandum Order 16 [2009]) and the College President of the Compostela Valley State College (Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 10598 [2014]).

[411] These include: Members of the Board of Examiners of Criminologists (Section 3 [1], R .A. 6506, Creation of Board of Examiners for Criminologists [1972]); Chairman and Members of the Professional Regulatory Board of Geology (Section 8 [a], R.A. 10166, Geology Profession Act of 2012 [2012]); Chairperson and Members of the Professional Regulatory Board of Psychology (Section 5 [a], R.A. 10029, Philippine Psychology Act of 2009 [2010]); Chairperson and Members ofthe Board of Respiratory Therapy (Section 5 [a], R.A. 10024, Philippine Respiratory Therapy Act of 2009 [2010]); Chairman and Members of the Professional Regulatory Board of Dentistry (Section 7 [a], R.A. 9484, The Philippine Dental Act of 2007 [2007]); Chairperson and Members of the Professional Regulatory Board for Librarians (Section 7 [a], R.A. 9246, The Philippine Librarianship Act of 2003 [2004]); Members of the Professional Regulatory Board of Accounting (Section 6 [a], R.A. 9298, Philippine Accountancy Act of 2004 [2004]); Chairman and Members of the Board of Chemical Engineering (Section 7 [a], R.A. 9297, Chemical Engineering Law of 2004 [2004]); Members of the Philippine Landscape Architecture Board (Section 4 [a], R.A. 9053, Philippine Landscape Architecture Act of2000 [2001]); Chairperson and Members of the Board of the Professional Regulatory Board of Nursing  Section 4, R.A. 9173, Philippine Nursing Act of 2002 [2002]); Member of the Professional Regulatory Board of Accountancy (Section 6 [a], R.A. 9298, Philippine Accountancy Act of 2004 [2004]); Members of the Board of Agricultural Engineering (Section 5 [a], R.A. 8559, Philippine Agricultural Engineering Act of 1998 [1998]); Members of the Board of Geodetic Engineering (Section 4 [a], R.A. 8560, Philippine Geodetic Engineering Act of 1998 [1998]); Chairperson and members of the Professional Regulatory Board for Foresters (Section 7 [a], R.A. 10690, The Forestry Profession Act [2015]); Members of the Board of Examiners for Forester (Section 6 [a], R.A. 6239, The Forestry Profession Law [1971]; Members ofthe Board of Pharmacy Section 7 [a], R.A. 5921, Pharmacy Law [1969]); Members of the Board of Medical Examiners (Section 14, R.A. 2382 as amended by R.A. 4224, The Medical Act of 1959 as amended [1965]); Members of the Board of Mechanical Engineering (Section 5 [a] R.A. 8495, Philippine Mechanical Engineering Act of 1998 [1998]); Members of the Board of Optometry, (Section 8 [a], R.A. 8050, Revised Optometry Law of 1995 [1995]); Members of the Board of Electrical Engineering (Section 5 [a], R.A. 7920, New Electrical Engineering Law [1995]).

[412] In particular, all officers of the Regular Force of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (Section 4 [b], R.A. 291, Armed Forces Officer Personnel Act of 1948 [1948]); Officers of the Women's Auxiliary Corps (Section 2, R.A. 3835, An Act to Establish the Women's Auxiliary Corps in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, to provide the Procurement of its Officers and Enlisted personnel, and for Other Purposes [1963]).



DISSENTING OPINION

CARPIO, J.:

I dissent from the majority opinion.

With the ruling of the majority today, a presidential candidate who is deemed a natural-born Filipino citizen by less than a majority of this Court, deemed not a natural-born Filipino citizen by five Justices, and with no opinion from three Justices, can now run for President of the Philippines even after having been unanimously found by the Commission on Elections En Banc (COMELEC) to be not a natural-born Filipino citizen. What is clear and undeniable is that there is no majority of this Court that holds that petitioner Mary Grace Natividad S. Poe Llamanzares (petitioner) is a natural-born Filipino citizen. This ruling of the majority will lead to absurd results, making a mockery of our national elections by allowing a presidential candidate with uncertain citizenship status to be potentially elected to the Office of the President, an office expressly reserved by the Constitution exclusively for natural-born Filipino citizens.

This means that the majority of this Court wants to resolve the citizenship status of petitioner after the elections, and only if petitioner wins the elections, despite petitioner having already presented before the COMELEC all the evidence she wanted to present to prove her citizenship status. This will make a mockery of our election process if petitioner wins the elections but is later disqualified by this Court for not possessing a basic qualification for the Office of the President - that of being a natural-born Filipino citizen.

Those who voted for petitioner would have utterly wasted their votes. This is not how the natural-born citizenship qualification for elective office mandated by the Constitution should be applied by the highest court of the land.

There is no dispute that petitioner is a Filipino citizen, as she publicly claims to be. However, she has failed to prove that she is a natural-born Filipino citizen and a resident of the Philippines for at least ten years immediately preceding the 9 May 2016 elections. Petitioner is not eligible to run for President of the Republic of the Philippines for lack of the essential requirements of citizenship and residency under Section 2, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution.[1] Petitioner's certificate of candidacy (COC), wherein she stated that she is qualified for the position of President, contains false material representations, and thus, must be cancelled. Petitioner, not being a natural-born Filipino citizen, is also a nuisance candidate whose COC can motu proprio be cancelled by the COMELEC under Section 69 of the Omnibus Election Code.

The Case

These consolidated certiorari petitions[2] seek to nullify the Resolutions[3] of the COMELEC for allegedly being issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. In the assailed Resolutions, the COMELEC cancelled petitioner's COC for the position of President for the 9 May 2016 elections on the ground of "false material representations" when she stated therein that she is a "natural-born Filipino citizen" and that her "period of residence in the Philippines up to the day before May 09, 2016" is "10 years and 11 months," which is contrary to the facts as found by the COMELEC.

The Issues

The core issues in this case are (1) whether petitioner, being a foundling, is a natural-born Filipino citizen, and (2) whether she is a resident of the Philippines for ten years immediately preceding the 9 May 2016 national elections. The resolution of these issues will in turn determine whether petitioner committed false material representations in her COC warranting the cancellation of her COC. If petitioner is not a natural-born Filipino citizen, the issue arises as a necessary consequence whether she is a nuisance candidate whose COC can motu proprio be cancelled by the COMELEC.

COMELEC Jurisdiction

Section 2(1), Article IX-C of the Constitution vests in the COMELEC the power, among others, to "[e]nforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election, x x x."[4] Screening initially the qualifications of all candidates lies within this specific power. In my dissent in Tecson v. COMELEC,[5] involving the issue of Fernando Poe, Jr.'s citizenship, I discussed the COMELEC's jurisdiction, to wit:

x x x. 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 tu 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 Comelec's 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.

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 wait until after the elections before such candidate may be disqualified.[6] (Italicization in the original; boldfacing supplied)

Clearly, pursuant to its constitutional mandate, the COMELEC can initially determine the qualifications of all candidates and disqualify those found lacking any of such qualifications before the conduct of the elections. In fact, the COMELEC is empowered to motu proprio cancel COCs of nuisance candidates.[7] In Timbol v. COMELEC,[8] the Court stated thus:
Respondent's power to motu proprio
deny due course to a certificate of
candidacy is subject to the candidate's
opportunity to be heard.

Under Article II, Section 26 of the Constitution, "[t]he State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service[.]" This, however, does not guarantee "a constitutional right to run for or hold public office[.]" To run for public office is a mere "privilege subject to limitations imposed by law." Among these limitations is the prohibition on nuisance candidates.

Nuisance candidates are persons who file their certificates of candidacy "to put the election process in mockery or disrepute or to cause confusion among the voters by the similarity of the names of the registered candidates or by other circumstances or acts which clearly demonstrate that the candidate has no bona fide intention to run for the office for which the certificate of candidacy has been filed and thus prevent a faithful determination of the true will of the electorate." x x x. (Emphasis supplied)
It cannot be disputed that a person, not a natural-born Filipino citizen, who files a certificate of candidacy for President, "put[s] the election process in mockery" and is therefore a nuisance candidate. Such person's certificate of candidacy can motu proprio be cancelled by the COMELEC under Section 69 of the Omnibus Election Code, which empowers the COMELEC to cancel motu proprio the COC if it "has been filed to put the election process in mockery."

In Pamatong v. COMELEC,[9] cited in Timbol,[10] the Court explained the reason why nuisance candidates are disqualified to run for public office:
The rationale behind the prohibition against nuisance candidates and the disqualification of candidates who have not evinced a bona fide intention to run for office is easy to divine. The State has a compelling interest to ensure that its electoral exercises are rational, objective, and orderly. Towards this end, the State takes into account the practical considerations in conducting elections. Inevitably, the greater the number of candidates, the greater the opportunities for logistical confusion, not to mention the increased allocation of time and resources in preparation for the election. These practical difficulties should, of course, never exempt the State from the conduct of a mandated electoral exercise. At the same time, remedial actions should be available to alleviate these logistical hardships, whenever necessary and proper. Ultimately, a disorderly election is not merely a textbook example of inefficiency, but a rot that erodes faith in our democratic institutions. x x x.

x x x x

x x x. The organization of an election with bona fide candidates standing is onerous enough. To add into the mix candidates with no serious intentions or capabilities to run a viable campaign would actually impair the electoral process. This is not to mention the candidacies which are palpably ridiculous so as to constitute a one-note joke. The poll body would be bogged by irrelevant minutiae covering every step of the electoral process, most probably posed at the instance of these nuisance candidates. It would be a senseless sacrifice on the part of the State.
To allow a person, who is found by the COMELEC not to be a natural­ born Filipino citizen, to run for President of the Philippines constitutes a mockery of the election process. Any person, who is not a natural-born Filipino citizen, running for President is obviously a nuisance candidate under Section 69 of the Omnibus Election Code. Allowing a nuisance candidate to run for President renders meaningless the COMELEC's constitutional power to "[e]nforce and administer all laws x x x relative to the conduct of an election, x x x." The election process becomes a complete mockery since the electorate is mercilessly offered choices which include patently ineligible candidates. The electorate is also needlessly misled to cast their votes, and thus waste their votes, for an ineligible candidate. The COMELEC cannot be a party to such mockery of the election process; otherwise, the COMELEC will be committing a grave abuse of discretion.

Citizens of the Philippines

It is the sovereign power and inherent right of every independent state to determine who are its nationals. The Philippines, and no other state, shall determine who are its citizens in accordance with its Constitution and laws.

In this case, the 1935 Philippine Constitution shall be applied to determine whether petitioner is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines since she was born in 1968 when the 1935 Constitution was in effect.

Section 1, Article IV of the 1935 Constitution identifies who are Filipino citizens, thus:
Article IV.-Citizenship

Section 1. 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.
  2. Those born in the Philippine 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.
From this constitutional provision, we find that, except for those who were already considered citizens at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, there were, as there are still now, only two methods of acquiring Philippine citizenship: (1) by blood relation to the father (or the mother under the 1987 Constitution) who must be a Filipino citizen; and (2) by naturalization according to law.[11]

The Philippines adheres to the jus sanguinis principle or the "law of the blood" to determine citizenship at birth. An individual acquires Filipino citizenship at birth solely by virtue of biological descent from a Filipino father or mother. The framers of the 1935 Constitution clearly intended to make the acquisition of citizenship available on the basis of the jus sanguinis principle. This view is made evident by the suppression from the Constitution of the jus soli principle, and further, by the fact that the Constitution has made definite provisions for cases not covered by the jus sanguinis principle, such as those found in paragraph 1, Section 1 of Article IV, i.e., those who are citizens of the Philippines at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, and in paragraph 2, Section 1 of the same Article, i.e., those born in the Philippines of foreign parents who, before the adoption of the Constitution, had been elected to public office in the Philippines.[12]

In terms of jurisprudence, there was a period when the Court was uncertain regarding the application of jus soli or "law of the soil" as a principle of acquisition of Philippine citizenship at birth.[13] In Tan Chong v. Secretary of Labor,[14] decided in 1947, the Court finally abandoned the jus soli principle, and jus sanguinis has been exclusively adhered to in the Philippines since then.[15]

Based on Section 1, Article IV of the 1935 Constitution, petitioner's citizenship may be determined only under paragraphs (3), (4) and (5). Paragraph (1) of Section 1 is not applicable since petitioner is not a Filipino citizen at the time of the adoption of the 1935 Constitution as petitioner was born after the adoption of the 1935 Constitution. Paragraph (2) of Section 1 is likewise inapplicable since petitioner was not born in the Philippines of foreign parents who, before the adoption of the Constitution, had been elected to public office in the Philippines.

Of the Filipino citizens falling under paragraphs (3), (4) and (5), only those in paragraph (3) of Section 1, whose fathers are citizens of the Philippines, can be considered natural-born Filipino citizens since they are Filipino citizens from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their Philippine citizenship.[16] In short, they are Filipino citizens by the mere fact of birth.

Under paragraph (4) of Section 1, those Filipino citizens whose mothers are Filipinos and whose fathers are aliens cannot be considered natural-born Filipino citizens since they are still required to elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority -they are not Filipino citizens by the mere fact of birth.

However, under paragraph (2), Section 1 of Article IV of the 1987 Constitution, those whose fathers are Filipino citizens and those whose mothers are Filipino citizens are treated equally. They are considered natural-born Filipino citizens.[17] Moreover, under Section 2, Article IV of the 1987 Constitution, in relation to paragraph (3), Section 1 of the same Article, those born before 17 January 1973 of Filipino mothers and who elected Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority are also deemed natural-born Filipino citizens.

In Co v. Electoral Tribunal of the House of Representatives,[18] the Court held that the constitutional provision treating as natural-born Filipino citizens those born before 17 January 1973 of Filipino mothers and alien fathers, and who elected Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority, has a retroactive effect. The Court declared that this constitutional provision 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."[19] The Court explained:
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 provision of the 1935 Constitution whether the election was done before or qfter 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 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 ofthe 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.[20]
Therefore, the following are deemed natural-born Filipino citizens: (1) those whose fathers or mothers are Filipino citizens, and (2) those whose mothers are Filipino citizens and were born before 17 January 1973 and who elected Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority. Stated differently, those whose fathers or mothers are neither Filipino citizens are not natural-born Filipino citizens. If they are not natural-born Filipino citizens, they can acquire Philippine citizenship only under paragraph (5), Section 1 of Article IV of the 1935 Constitution which refers to Filipino citizens who are naturalized in accordance with law.

Intent of the Framers of the 1935 Constitution

Petitioner concedes that she does not fall under paragraphs (1) and (2) of Section 1, Article IV of the 1935 Constitution. However, petitioner claims that the mere fact that she is a foundling does not exclude her from paragraphs (3) and (4) of the same provision. Petitioner argues in her Petition that "the pertinent deliberations of the 1934 Constitutional Convention, on what eventually became Article IV of the 1935 Constitution, show that the intent of the framers was not to exclude foundlings from the term "citizens" of the Philippines."[21]

Likewise, the Solicitor General asserts in his Comment[22] that "[t]he deliberations ofthe 1934 Constitutional Convention indicate the intention to categorize foundlings as a class of persons considered as Philippine citizens. x x x. The 1935 Constitution's silence cannot simply be interpreted as indicative of an intent to entrench a disadvantaged class in their tragedy. Not only is there no evidence of such intent, but also the silence can be explained in a compassionate light, one that is geared towards addressing a fundamental question of justice."[23]

Petitioner and the Solicitor General are gravely mistaken. The framers of the 1935 Constitution voted to categorically reject the proposal to include foundlings as citizens of the Philippines. Petitioner's Petition, and the Solicitor General's Comment, glaringly omitted that the 1934 Constitutional Convention actually voted upon, and rejected, the proposal to include foundlings as citizens of the Philippines. The following exchange during the deliberations of the Convention shows this unequivocally.
SPANISH
ENGLISH
SR. RAFOLS:
Para una enmienda. Propongo que despues del inciso 2 se inserte lo siguiente: "Los hijos naturales de un padre extranjero y de una madre filipina no reconocidos por aquel.
xxxx
MR. RAFOLS:
For an amendment, I propose that after subsection 2, the following is inserted: "The natural children of a foreign father and a Filipino mother not recognized by the father.
xxxx
EL PRESIDENTE:
La Mesa desea pedir una aclaracion del proponente de la enmienda. Se refiere Su Señoria a hijos naturales o a toda clase de hijos ilegitimos?
PRESIDENT: [We] would like to request a clarification from the proponent of the amendment. The gentleman refers to natural children or to any kind of illegitimate children?
SR. RAFOLS:
A toda clase de hijos ilegitimos. Tambien se incluye a los hijos naturales de padres desconocidos, los hijos naturales o ilegitimos, de padres desconocidos.
MR. RAFOLS: To all kinds of illegitimate children. It also includes natural children of unknown parentage, natural or illegitimate children of unknown parents.
SR. MONTINOLA:
Para una aclaracion. Alli se dice "de padres desconocidos." Los Codigos actuales consideran como filipino, es decir, i me refiero al codigo español quien I considera como espafioles a todos los hijos de padres desconocidos nacidos en territorio español, porque la presuncion es que el hijo de padres desconocidos es hijo de un español, y de esa manera se podra aplicar en Filipinas de que un hijo desconocido aqui y nacido en Filipinas se considerara que es hijo filipino y no hay necesidad ...
MR. MONTINOLA:
For clarification. The gentleman said "of unknown parents." Current codes consider them Filipino, that is, I refer to the Spanish Code wherein all children of unknown parentage born in Spanish territory are considered Spaniards, because the presumption is that a child of unknown parentage is the son of a Spaniard. This may be applied in the Philippines in that a child of unknown parentage born in the Philippines is deemed to be Filipino, and there is no need ...
SR. RAFOLS:
Hay necesidad, porque estamos relatando las condiciones de los que van a ser filipinos.
MR. RAFOLS:
There is a need, because we are relating the conditions that are [required] to be Filipino.
SR. MONTINOLA:
Pero esa es la interpretacion de la ley, ahora, de manera que no hay necesidad de  la enmienda.
MR. MONTINOLA:
But that is the interpretation of the law, therefore, there is no [more] need for the amendment.
SR. RAFOLS:
La enmienda debe leerse de esta manera: "Los hijos naturales o ilegitimos de un padre extranjero y de una madre filipina reconocidos por aquel o los hijos de padres desconocidos.
MR. RAFOLS:
The amendment should read thus: "Natural or illegitimate children of a foreign father and a Filipino mother recognized by the former, or the children of unknown parentage."
SR. BRIONES:
Para una enmienda con elfin de significar: The amendment [should] mean children los hijos nacidos en Filipinas de padres born in the Philippines of unknown desconocidos
MR. BRIONES: The amendment [should] mean children born in the Philippines of unknown parentage.
SR. RAFOLS:
Es que el hijo de una filipina con un extranjero, aunque este no reconozca al hijo, no es desconocido.
MR. RAFOLS:
The son of a Filipina to a foreigner, although the latter does not recognize the child, is not of unknown parentage.
EL PRESIDENTE:
Acepta Su Señoria o no la enmienda?
PRESIDENT:
Does the gentleman accept the amendment or not?
SR. RAFOLS:
No acepto la enmienda, porque la lenmienda excluiria a los hijos de una filipina con un extranjero que este no reconoce. No son desconocidos y yo creo que esos hijos de madre filipina con extranjero y el padre no reconoce, deben ser tambien considerados como filipinos.

MR.RAFOLS:
I do not accept the amendment because the amendment would exclude the children of a Filipina with a foreigner who does not recognize the child. Their parentage is not unknown and I believe that these children of a Filipino mother by a foreigner who does not recognize them should also be considered Filipinos.

EL PRESIDENTE:
La cuestion en orden es la enmienda a la enmienda del Delegado por Cebu, Sr. Briones.

PRESIDENT:
The question to be settled is the amendment to the amendment of the delegate from Cebu, Mr. Briones.

Mr. BULSON:
Mr. President, don't you think it would be better to leave the matter in the hands of the Legislature?
MR. BUSLON:
Mr. President, don't you think it would be better to leave the matter in the hands of the Legislature?
SR.ROXAS:
Senor Presidente, mi opinion humilde es que estos son casos muy pequeños y contados, para que la constitucion necesite referirse a ellos. Por leyes internacionales se reconoce el principia de que los hijo las per o as nacidas en un pais de padres desconocidos son ciudadanos de esa nacion, y no es necesario incluir una disposicion taxativa sobre el particular.
MR. ROXAS:
Mr. President, my humble opinion is that these cases are very insignificant and very few that the constitution need not make reference to them. International law recognizes the principle that the children or persons in a country of unknown parents are citizens of that nation and it is not necessary to include a restrictive provision on this subject.
LA ENMIENDA BRIONES ES RETIRADA
THE BRIONES AMENDMENT IS WITHDRAWN
EL PRESIDENTE:
Insiste el Caballero por Cebu, Sr. Briones, en su enmienda?
PRESIDENT:
Does the gentleman from Cebu, Mr. Briones, insist in his amendment?
SR. BRIONES:
No tengo especial interes, señor Presidente, en esa enmienda y la retiro.
SR. BRIONES:
I have no special interest, Mr. President, in the amendment and I withdraw.
EL PRESIDENTE:
Por retirada.
PRESIDENT:
Withdrawn.
LA ENMIENDA RAFOLS ES RECHAZADA
THE RAFOLS AMENDMENT IS REJECTED
EL PRESIDENTE:
Insiste el Caballero por Cebu, Sr. Rafols, en su enmienda?
PRESIDENT:
Does the gentleman from Cebu, Mr. Rafols, insist in his amendment?
SR. RAFOLS:
Si.
SR. RAFOLS:
Yes.
EL PRESIDENTE: La Mesa sometera a votacion dicha enmienda. Los que esten conformes con la misma, que digan si. (Una minoria: SI.) Los que no lo esten, que digan no. (Una mayoria: NO.) Queda rechazada la enmienda.[24]

PRESIDENT:
Let us submit to a vote the amendment. Those who agree with it, say yes. (a minority: YES.) Those who are not, say no. (a majority: NO.) The amendment is rejected. (Emphasis supplied)

During the 26 November 1934 deliberations of the Constitutional Convention, Delegate Rafols proposed an amendment to declare as Filipino citizens those natural or illegitimate children of Filipino mothers and alien fathers who do not acknowledge them. Such proposed amendment, according to Delegate Rafols, included "children of unknown parentage."

Three delegates voiced their objections to Rafols's amendment, namely Delegates Buslon, Montinola, and Roxas.

Delegate Teofilo Buslon suggested that the subject matter be left in the hands of the legislature, which meant that Congress would decide whether to categorize as Filipinos (1) natural or illegitimate children of Filipino mothers and alien fathers who do not recognize them; and (2) children of unknown parentage. If that were the case, foundlings were not and could not validly be considered as natural-born Filipino citizens as defined in the Constitution since Congress would then provide the enabling law for them to be regarded as Filipino citizens. Foundlings would be naturalized citizens since they acquire Filipino citizenship "in accordance with law" under paragraph (5), Section 1 of Article IV of the 1935 Constitution. Significantly, petitioner and the Solicitor General, who agrees with petitioner's position, conveniently left out Delegate Buslon's opinion.

Petitioner quotes the opinions of Delegates Ruperto Montinola and Manuel Roxas to support her theory. Petitioner argues that "the pertinent deliberations of the 1934 Constitutional Convention show that the intent of the framers was not to exclude foundlings from the term 'citizens of the Philippines,' but simply to avoid redundancy occasioned by explicating what to them was already a clear principle of existing domestic and international law."[25]

Petitioner is again gravely mistaken.

There was no domestic law as well as international law existing during the proceedings of the 1934 Constitutional Convention explicitly governing citizenship of foundlings, and thus, there could not have been a redundancy of any law to speak of.

Delegate Montinola applied the Spanish Civil Code provision, stating that children of unknown parentage born in Spanish territory were considered Spaniards, and opined that the same concept could be applied in the Philippines and thus children of unknown parentage born in the Philippines should be considered Filipino citizens.

However, this was an erroneous application since the provisions of the Spanish Civil Code (which Delegate Montinola was relying on) were no longer in effect as of the end of Spanish rule in the Philippines. The provisions of the Spanish Civil Code cited by Delegate Montinola ceased to have effect upon the cession by Spain of the Philippines to the United States. As early as 1912, in Roa v. Collector of Customs,[26] the Court stated:
Articles 17 to 27, inclusive, of the Civil Code deal entirely with the subject of Spanish citizenship. When these provisions were enacted, Spain was and is now the sole and exclusive judge as to who shall and who shall not be subjects of her kingdom, including her territories. Consequently, the said articles, being political laws (laws regulating the relations sustained by the inhabitants to the former sovereign), must be held to have been abrogated upon the cession of the Philippine Islands to the United States.
"By well-settled public law, upon the cession of territory by one nation to another, either following a conquest or otherwise, * * * those laws which are political in their nature and pertain to the prerogatives of the former government immediately cease upon the transfer of sovereignty." (Opinion, Atty. Gen., July 10, 1889.)
Thus, Delegate Montinola's opinion was based on an erroneous premise since the provisions of the Spanish Civil Code he cited had already long been repealed and could no longer be applied in the Philippines.

The same can be said of Delegate Manuel Roxas's opinion regarding the supposed international law principle which recognizes a foundling to be a citizen of the country where the foundling is found. At that time, there was nothing in international law which automatically granted citizenship to foundlings at birth. In fact, Delegate Roxas did not cite any international law principle to that effect.

Only the 1930 Hague Convention on Certain Questions Relating to the Conflict of Nationality Laws, which articulated the presumption on the place of birth of foundlings, was in existence during the deliberations on the 1935 Constitution. As will be discussed further, the 1930 Hague Convention does not guarantee a nationality to a foundling at birth. Therefore, there was no prevailing customary international law at that time, as there is still none today, conferring automatically a nationality to foundlings at birth.

Moreover, none of the framers of the 1935 Constitution mentioned the term "natural-born" in relation to the citizenship of foundlings. Again, under the 1935 Constitution, only those whose fathers were Filipino citizens were considered natural-born Filipino citizens. Those who were born of Filipino mothers and alien fathers were still required to elect Philippine citizenship, preventing them from being natural-born Filipino citizens. If, as petitioner would like us to believe, the framers intended that foundlings be considered natural-born Filipino citizens, this would have created an absurd situation where a child with unknown parentage would be placed in a better position than a child whose mother is actually known to be a Filipino citizen. The framers of the 1935 Constitution could not have intended to create such an absurdity.

In any event, Delegate Rafols's amendment, when put to a vote, was clearly rejected by the majority of the delegates to the 1934 Constitutional Convention. To reiterate, Delegate Rafols's proposal was defeated in the voting. The rejection of the Rafols amendment not only meant the non­ inclusion in the text of the Constitution of a provision that children with unknown parentage are Filipino citizens, but also signified the rejection by the delegates of the idea or proposition that foundlings are Filipino citizens at birth just like natural-hom citizens. While the framers discussed the matter of foundlings because of Delegate Rafols's amendment, they not only rejected the Rafols proposal but also clearly manifested that foundlings could not be citizens of the Philippines at birth like children of Filipino fathers. Stated differently, the framers intended to exclude foundlings from the definition of natural-born Filipino citizens.

Clearly, there is no "silence of the Constitution" on foundlings because the majority of the delegates to the 1934 Constitutional Convention expressly rejected the proposed amendment of Delegate Rafols to classify children of unknown parentage as Filipino citizens. There would have been "silence of the Constitution" if the Convention never discussed the citizenship of foundlings. There can never be "silence of the Constitution" if the Convention discussed a proposal and rejected it, and because of such rejection the subject of the proposal is not found in the Constitution. The absence of any mention in the Constitution of such rejected proposal is not "silence of the Constitution" but "express rejection in the Constitution" of such proposal.

Further, to include foundlings among those born of Filipino fathers or Filipino mothers based solely on Montinola's and Roxas's opinions during the deliberations of the Constitutional Convention is a strained construction of the Constitution which clearly runs counter to the express provisions of the Constitution and contravenes the jus sanguinis principle underlying the citizenship provisions of the Constitution.

Besides, there is nothing in the deliberations of the 1934 Constitutional Convention indicating that a majority of the delegates agreed with the opinion of either Delegate Montinola or Delegate Roxas. The opinions of Delegates Montinola and Roxas remained their personal opinions, just like the countless opinions of other delegates who aired their opinions during the deliberations of the Convention without such opinions being put to a vote. Delegate Buslon proposed that the citizenship of foundlings be addressed through legislation by Congress, a proposal that carried more weight since it falls squarely under paragraph 5, Section 1 of Article IV of the 1935 Constitution authorizing Congress to enact naturalization laws.

Definition of the Term "'Natural-Born Citizens"

The term "natural-born citizen" was first discussed by the framers of the 1935 Constitution in relation to the qualifications of the President and Vice-President. In particular, Delegate Roxas elaborated on this term, explaining that a natural-born citizen is a "citizen by birth" - a person who is a citizen by reason of his or her birth and not by operation of law. Delegate Roxas explained:
Delegate Roxas. - Mr. President, the phrase, 'natural-born citizen,' appears in the Constitution of the United States; but the authors say that this phrase has never been authoritatively interpreted by the Supreme Court of the United States in view of the fact that there has never been raised the question of whether or not an elected President fulfilled this condition. The authors are uniform in the fact that the words, 'natural-born citizen,' means a citizen by birth, a person who is a citizen by reason of his birth, and not by naturalization or by a further declaration required by law for his citizenship. In the Philippines, for example, under the provisions of the article on citizenship which we have approved, all those born of a father who is a Filipino citizen, be they persons born in the Philippines or outside, would be citizens by birth or 'natural-born.'

And with respect to one born of a Filipino mother but of a foreign father, the article which we approved about citizenship requires that, upon reaching the age of majority, this child needs to indicate the citizenship which he prefers, and if he elects Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority, then he shall be considered a Filipino citizen. According to this interpretation, the child of a Filipino mother with a foreign father would not be a citizen by birth, because the law or the Constitution requires that he make a further declaration after his birth. Consequently, the phrase, 'natural-born citizen,' as it is used in the English text means a Filipino citizen by birth, regardless of where he was born.[27] (Emphasis supplied)
Clearly, it was the intent of the framers of the 1935 Constitution to refer to natural-born citizens as only those who were Filipino citizens by the mere fact of being born to fathers who were Filipino citizens -nothing more and nothing less. To repeat, under the 1935 Constitution, only children whose fathers were Filipino citizens were natural-born Filipino citizens. Those who were born of alien fathers and Filipino mothers were not considered natural-born Filipino citizens, despite the fact that they had a blood relation to a Filipino parent. Since a natural-born citizen is a citizen by birth who need not perform any act to acquire or perfect Philippine citizenship, then those born of Filipino mothers and alien fathers and who had to elect citizenship upon reaching the age of majority, an overt act to perfect citizenship, were not considered natural-born Filipino citizens. As a matter of course, those whose parents are neither Filipino citizens or are both unknown, such as in the case of foundlings, cannot be considered natural­ born Filipino citizens.

Foundlings and International Law

A. Each State Determines its Citizens


Fundamental is the principle that every independent state has the right and prerogative to determine who are its citizens. In United States v. Wong Kim Ark,[28] decided in 1898, the United States Supreme Court enunciated this principle:
It is the inherent right of every independent nation to determine for itself, and according to its own constitution and laws, what classes of persons shall be entitled to its citizenship.
In our jurisdiction, the Court similarly echoed in the 1912 case of Roa v. Collector of Customs[29] this incontrovertible right of each state to determine who are its citizens. Hence, every independent state cannot be denied this inherent right to determine who are its citizens according to its own constitution and laws.

Article 1, Chapter I of the 1930 Hague Convention on Certain Questions Relating to the Conflict of Nationality Laws explicitly provides:
It is for each state to determine under its own law who are its nationals. This law shall be recognized by other States in so far as it is consistent with international conventions, international custom, and the principles oflaw generally recognized with regard to nationality.
This means that municipal law, both constitutional and statutory, determines and regulates the conditions on which citizenship is acquired.[30] There is no such thing as international citizenship or international law by which citizenship may be acquired.[31] Whether an individual possesses the citizenship of a particular state shall be determined in accordance with the constitution and statutory laws of that state.

B. Conventional International Law, Customary International Law, and Generally Accepted Principles of International Law

Petitioner invokes conventional international law, customary international law and generally accepted principles of international law to support her claim that she is a natural-born Filipino citizen. A review of these concepts is thus inevitable.

Article 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice sets out the following sources of international law: (1) international conventions, whether general or particular, establishing rules expressly recognized by the contesting states; (2) international custom, as evidence of a general practice accepted as law; (3) general principles of law recognized by civilized nations; and (4) judicial decisions and the teachings of the most highly qualified publicists of the various nations as subsidiary means for the determination of rules of law.[32]

Essentially, conventional international law is the body of international legal principles contained in treaties or conventions as opposed to customary international law or other sources of intemationallaw.[33]

Customary international law is defined as a general and consistent practice of states followed by them from a sense of legal obligation.[34] I had occasion to explain the concept of customary international law as used in our Constitution in this wise:
Generally accepted principles of international law, as referred to in the Constitution, include customary international law. Customary international law is one of the primary sources of international law under Article 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice. Customary international law consists of acts which, by repetition of States of similar international acts for a number of years, occur out of a sense of obligation, and taken by a significant number of States. It is based on custom, which is a clear and continuous habit of doing certain actions, which has grown under the aegis of the conviction that these actions are, according to international law, obligatory or right. Thus, customary international law requires the concurrence of two elements: [1] the established, wide-spread, and consistent practice on the part of the States; and [2] a psychological element known as opinio juris sive necessitatis (opinion as to law or necessity). Implicit in the latter element is a belief that the practice in question is rendered obligatory by the existence of a rule of law requiring it.[35]
In the North Sea Continental Shelf Cases,[36] the International Court of Justice held that "[n]ot only must the acts concerned amount to a settled practice, but they must also be such, or be carried out in such a way, as to be evidence of a belief that this practice is rendered obligatory by existence of a rule of law requiring it. The need for such a belief, i.e., the existence of a subjective element is implicit in the very notion of the opinio juris sive necessitatis."

Moreover, to be considered as customary international law, a rule must apply to all, or majority of all, states. One possible exception to the universal applicability of customary international law is local or special custom. A local or special customary international rule binds only a group of states, regional or otherwise.[37] "Regional customary international law refers to customary international law that arises from state practice and opinio juris of a discrete and limited number of states; as it departs from generally applicable customary international law, it is only binding upon and opposable against those states participating in its formation."[38]

Generally accepted principles of international law are those legal principles which are so basic and fundamental that they are found universally in the legal systems of the world. These principles apply all over the world, not only to a specific country, region or group of states. Legal principles such as laches, estoppel, good faith, equity and res judicata are examples of generally accepted principles of international law.[39] In Pharmaceutical and Health Care Association of the Philippines v. Duque III,[40] the Court further explained the concept of generally accepted principles of law, to wit:
Some legal scholars and judges look upon certain "general principles of law" as a primary source of international law because they have the "character of jus rationale" and are "valid through all kinds of human societies." (Judge Tanaka in his dissenting opinion in the 1966 South West Africa Case, 1966 I.C.J. 296). O'Connell holds that certain principles are part of international law because they are "basic to legal systems generally" and hence part of the jus gentium. These principles, he believes, are established by a process of reasoning based on the common identity of all legal systems. If there should be doubt or disagreement, one must look to state practice and determine whether the municipal law principle provides a just and acceptable solution. x x x
C. There is No Customary International Law
Presuming a Foundling as a Citizen
of the Country Where the Foundling is Found

Petitioner claims that under customary international law and generally accepted principles of international law, she (1) has a right to a nationality from birth; (2) has a right to be protected against statelessness; and (3) is presumed to be a citizen of the Philippines where she was found.

Petitioner anchors her claims on the (1) 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), (2) 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), (3) 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), (4) 1930 Hague Convention on Certain Questions Relating to the Conflict of Nationality Laws (1930 Hague Convention), and (5) the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness (CRS), among others.

1. The 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child
Article 7

1. The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents.

2. States Parties shall ensure the implementation of these rights in accordance with their national law and their obligations under the relevant international instruments in this field, in particular where the child would otherwise be stateless. (Emphasis supplied)
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, the age of majority is attained earlier.

Since petitioner was born in 1968 or more than 20 years before the Convention came into existence, the Convention could not have applied to the status of her citizenship at the time of her birth in 1968. Petitioner's citizenship at birth could not be affected in any way by the Convention.

The Convention guarantees a child the right to acquire a nationality, and requires the contracting states to ensure the implementation of this right, in particular where the child would otherwise be stateless. Thus, as far as nationality is concerned, the Convention guarantees the right of the child to acquire a nationality so that the child will not be stateless. The Convention does not guarantee a child a nationality at birth, much less a natural­ born citizenship at birth as understood under the Philippine Constitution, but merely the right to acquire a nationality in accordance with municipal law.

2. The 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
Article 24

1. Every child shall have, without any discrimination as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, national or social origin, property or birth, the right to such measures of protection as are required by his status as a minor, on the part of his family, society and the State.

x x x x

3. Every child has the right to acquire a nationality. (Emphasis supplied)
Adopted on 16 December 1966 and entered into force on 23 March 1976, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights recognizes "the ideal of free human beings enjoying civil and political freedom and freedom from fear and want which can only be achieved if conditions are created whereby everyone may enjoy his civil and political rights, as well as his economic, social and cultural rights."[41]

The Philippines is a signatory to this international treaty. Similar to the text of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the ICCPR does not obligate states to automatically grant a nationality to children at birth. The Covenant merely recognizes the right of a child to acquire a nationality. In short, the Covenant does not guarantee a foundling a nationality at birth, much less natural-born citizenship at birth as understood under the Philippine Constitution.

3. The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Article 15.

(1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality. (Emphasis supplied)
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948 whereby "Member States (including the Philippines) have pledged themselves to achieve, in cooperation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms."[42] It sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected.[43]

Article 15(1) of the UDHR simply affirms the right of every human being to a nationality. Being a mere declaration, such right guaranteed by the UDHR does not obligate states to automatically confer nationality to a foundling at birth, much less natural-born citizenship at birth as understood under the Philippine Constitution.

4. The 1930 Hague Convention on Certain Questions Relating to the Conflict of Nationality Laws
Article 14.

A child whose parents are both unknown shall have the nationality of the country of birth. If the child's parentage is established, its nationality shall be determined by the rules applicable in cases where the parentage is known.

A foundling is, until the contrary is proved, presumed to have been born on the territory of the State in which it was found.

Article 15.

Where the nationality of a State is not acquired automatically by reason of birth on its territory, a child born on the territory of that State of parents having no nationality, or of unknown nationality, may obtain the nationality of the said State. The law of that State shall determine the conditions governing the acquisition of its nationality in such cases. (Emphasis supplied)
The Philippines is not a signatory to this Convention, and therefore, it is not bound by the Convention. Petitioner, however, claims that this Convention is evidence of "generally accepted principles of international law," which allegedly created the presumption that a foundling is a citizen at birth of the state in which the foundling is found.

Article 14 merely states that a foundling "shall have the nationality of the country of birth." It does not say that a foundling shall have the nationality at birth of the country where the foundling is found. Nowhere in Article 14 is nationality guaranteed to a foundling at birth, much less natural-born citizenship at birth as understood under the Philippine Constitution. Likewise, Article 14 merely lays down the presumption that a foundling is born in the territory of the state in which the foundling is found. This is the only presumption that Article 14 establishes.

Article 15 acknowledges the fact that acquisition of nationality by reason of birth in a state's territory is not automatic. Article 15 expressly states that municipal law shall "determine the conditions governing the acquisition of its nationality" by a foundling. Thus, to implement the Convention the contracting parties have to enact statutory legislation prescribing the conditions for the acquisition of citizenship by a foundling. This rules out any automatic acquisition of citizenship at birth by a foundling.

5. The 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness
Article 1

1. A Contracting State shall grant its nationality to a person born in its territory who would otherwise be stateless. Such nationality shall be granted:

(a) at birth, by operation of law, or

(b) upon an application being lodged with the appropriate authority, by or on behalf of the person concerned, in the manner prescribed by the national law.
Subject to the provisions of paragraph 2 of this Article, no such application may be rejected.

A Contracting State which provides for the grant of its nationality in accordance with sub-paragraph (b) of this paragraph may also provide for the grant of its nationality by operation of law at such age and subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by the national law.

x x x x

Article 2
A foundling found in the territory of a Contracting State shall, in the absence of proof to the contrary, be considered to have been born within that territory of parents possessing the nationality of that State. (Emphasis supplied)
A 1961 United Nations multilateral treaty, the primary aim of the Convention is the prevention of statelessness by requiring states to grant citizenship to children born in their territory, or born to their nationals abroad, who would otherwise be stateless. To prevent statelessness in such cases, states have the option to grant nationality (1) at birth by operation of law, or (2) subsequently by application. In short, a contracting state to the Convention must enact an implementing law choosing one of the two options before the Convention can be implemented in that state.

The Philippines is not a signatory to this Convention, and thus, the Philippines is a non-contracting state. The Convention does not bind the Philippines. Moreover, this Convention does not provide automatically that a foundling is a citizen at birth of the country in which the foundling is found.

Article 2 of the Convention provides, "A foundling found in the territory of a Contracting State shall, in the absence of proof to the contrary, be considered to have been born of parents possessing the nationality of that state." Dr. Laura van Waas explains the meaning of Article 2 of the Convention, as follows:
Once more, the wording of this provision is evidence of the compromise reached between jus soli and jus sanguinis countries. Rather than determining that a child found abandoned on the territory of the state will automatically acquire the nationality of that state, it declares that the child will be assumed to have both the necessary jus soli and jus sanguinis links with the state: born on the territory to parents possessing the nationality of the state. This means that the child will then simply acquire nationality ex lege under the normal operation of the state's nationality regulations - the effect being the same in both jus soli and jus sanguinis regimes. No attempt is made to further define the type of evidence that may be accepted as "proof to the contrary", this being left to the discretion of the contracting states.[44] (Emphasis supplied)
First, Article 2 applies only to a "foundling found in the territory of a Contracting State." The Philippines is not a contracting state to the Convention and thus Article 2, and the entire Convention, does not apply to the Philippines.

Second
, there must be "absence of proof" that the parents of the foundling do not possess the nationality of another state. This means there must be an administrative or judicial proceeding to determine this factual issue, an act necessary to acquire the citizenship of the state where the foundling is found. This also means that the grant of citizenship under Article 2 is not automatic, as Dr. Laura van Waas explains. This factual determination prevents the foundling from acquiring natural-born citizenship at birth as understood under our Constitution, assuming Article 2 applies to the Philippines.

Third, the grant of citizenship under Article 2 is ex lege which means by operation of law - referring to municipal statutory law. Assuming Article 2 applies to the Philippines, and it does not, this grant of citizenship refers to naturalization by operation of law, the category of citizens under paragraph (5), Section 1 of Article IV of the 1935 Constitution (now Section 1(4), Article IV of the 1987 Constitution), or "[t]hose who are naturalized in accordance with law."

Nationality at birth may result because the law applicable is either jus soli or jus sanguinis. A child born in the United States to foreign parents is a citizen of the United States at birth because the United States adopts the jus soli principle. Under the jus soli principle, the place of birth determines citizenship at birth, not blood relation to the parents. In contrast, a child born in the Philippines to foreign parents is not a Philippine citizen at birth but a foreigner because the Philippines follows the jus sanguinis principle. Under the jus sanguinis principle, citizenship at birth is determined by blood relation to the parents.

Nationality at birth does not necessarily mean natural-born citizenship as prescribed under the Philippine Constitution. The Constitution recognizes natural-born citizens at birth only under the principle of jus sanguinis there must be a blood relation by the child to a Filipino father or mother. Even assuming, and there is none, that there is an international law granting a foundling citizenship, at birth, of the country where the foundling is found, it does not necessarily follow that the foundling qualifies as a natural-born citizen under the Philippine Constitution. In the Philippines, any citizenship granted at birth to a child with no known blood relation to a Filipino parent can only be allowed by way of naturalization as mandated by the Constitution, under paragraph 5, Section 1 of Article IV of the 1935 Constitution,[45] paragraph 4, Section 1 of Article III of the 1973 Constitution,[46] and paragraph 4, Section 1 of Article IV of the 1987 Constitution.[47] Such a child is a naturalized Filipino citizen, not a natural-born Filipino citizen.

In sum, there is no international treaty to which the Philippines is a contracting party, which provides expressly or impliedly that a foundling is deemed a natural-born citizen of the country in which the foundling is found.[48] There is also obviously no international treaty, to which the Philippines is not a party, obligating the Philippines to confer automatically Philippine citizenship to a foundling at birth.

Since the Philippines is not a signatory to the various international conventions regulating nationality,[49] we shall scrutinize whether the relevant provisions on foundlings contained in the international conventions cited by petitioner have become part of customary international law or generally accepted principles of international law on nationality.

We shall first lay down the basic premise for an international rule to be considered customary international law. Such a rule must comply with the twin elements of widespread and consistent state practice, the objective element; and opinio juris sive necessitatis, the subjective element. State practice refers to the continuous repetition of the same or similar kind of acts or norms by states. It is demonstrated upon the existence of the following elements: (1) generality or widespread practice; (2) uniformity and consistency; and (3) duration. On the other hand, opinio juris, the psychological element, requires that the state practice or norm be carried out in the belief that this practice or norm is obligatory as a matter of law.[50]

The pertinent provisions on foundlings are found in the 1930 Hague Convention and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. Article 14 of the 1930 Hague Convention and Article 2 of the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness state, respectively: (1) "A foundling is, until the contrary is proved, presumed to have been born on the territory of the State in which it was found"; and (2) "A foundling found in the territory of a Contracting State shall, in the absence of proof to the contrary, be considered to have been born within that territory of parents possessing the nationality of that State."

We shall limit our discussion to Article 2 of the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness since the presumption in Article 14 of the 1930 Hague Convention concerns merely the place of birth of foundlings. In this case, the parties admit that petitioner was born in Jaro, Iloilo in the Philippines, which is the same place where she was found. Therefore, it is no longer presumed that petitioner was born in the territory of the Philippines since it is already an admitted fact that she was born in the Philippines.

There are only 64 States which have ratified the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness as of February 2016.[51] Out ofthe 193 Member­ States of the United Nations,[52] far less than a majority signified their agreement to the Convention.

One of the essential elements of customary international law is the widespread and consistent practice by states of a specific international principle, in this case, that foundlings are presumed to be born to parents who are citizens of the state where the foundling is found. Petitioner failed to prove this objective element. Prof. Malcolm N. Shaw, in his widely used textbook International Law, explains the meaning of widespread and consistent practice in this way:
One particular analogy that has been used to illustrate the general nature of customary law as considered by de Visscher. He likened the growth of custom to the gradual formation of a road across vacant land. After an initial uncertainty as to direction, the majority of users begin to follow the same line which becomes a single path. Not long elapses before that path is transformed into a road accepted as the only regular way, even though it is not possible to state at which precise moment this latter change occurs. And so it is with the formation of a custom. De Visscher develops this idea by reflecting that just as some make heavier footprints than others due to their greater weight, the more influential states of the world mark the way with more vigour and tend to become the guarantors and defenders ofthe way forward.[53] (Emphasis supplied)
Prof. Shaw concludes, "Accordingly, custom should to some extent mirror the perceptions of the majority of states, since it is based upon usages which are practiced by nations as they express their power and their hopes and fears."[54]

Petitioner manifestly failed to show that Article 2 of the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness is an "established, widespread and consistent practice" of a majority of sovereign states. There is no showing that this Convention was in fact enforced or practiced by at least a majority of the members of the United Nations. Petitioner claims that "ratification by a majority of states is not essential for a principle contained in an international treaty or convention to be 'customary international law.'"[55] On the other hand, it is generally accepted by international law writers that the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness does not constitute customary international law precisely because of the small number of states that have ratified the Convention. Dr. Laura van Waas summarizes the state of the law on this issue:
In order to contend that a rule of customary international law has thereby been established, we must also prove that states are legislating in this way due to the conviction that they are legally compelled to do so - the opinio juris sive necessitatis. The codification of the obligation to grant nationality to foundlings in the 1930 Hague Convention and the 1961 Statelessness Convention cannot be taken as sufficient evidence due, mainly, to the low number of state parties to both instruments.[56] (Emphasis supplied)
It is hornbook law that there is no general international law, whether customary international law or generally accepted principle of international law, obligating the Philippines, or any state for that matter, to automatically confer citizenship to foundlings at birth. As Prof. Serena Forlati writes: "It is thus not possible to conclude that every child who would otherwise be stateless is automatically entitled to the nationality of her or his country of birth under the ICCPR, the CRC or general internationallaw."[57]

Out of the 64 parties to the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, only 13 states provide for the automatic and unconditional acquisition of nationality by foundlings.[58] This means that the majority of the contracting states to the Convention do not automatically confer nationality to foundlings at birth. In fact, the majority of the contracting states impose various conditions for the acquisition of nationality to prevent statelessness, such as proof of unknown parentage, the specific place where the foundling is found, and whether the foundling is a newborn infant or a child of a certain age, among others. These conditions must necessarily be established in the appropriate proceeding before the foundling can acquire citizenship. These conditions for the acquisition of citizenship effectively prevent a foundling from being automatically considered a citizen at birth. In the Philippines, such conditions will prevent a foundling from being considered a natural-born citizen as defined under the Philippine Constitution.

Since the first essential element for an international rule to be considered a customary international law is missing in this case, the second essential element of opinio juris is logically lacking as well. In fact, petitioner failed to demonstrate that any compliance by member states with the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness was obligatory in nature. In Bayan Muna v. Romulo,[59] the Court held:
Absent the widespread/consistent-practice-of-states factor, the second or the psychological element must be deemed non-existent, for an inquiry on why states behave the way they do presupposes, in the first place, that they are actually behaving, as a matter of settled and consistent practice, in a certain manner. This implicitly requires belief that the practice in question is rendered obligatory by the existence of a rule of law requiring it. Like the first element, the second element has likewise not been shown to be present.
Moreover, aside from the fact that the Philippines is not a contracting party to the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, Article 2 of the Convention is inapplicable to this case because the Convention, which took effect after the birth of petitioner, does not have retroactive effect. Paragraph 3, Article 12 of the Convention explicitly states:
3. The provisions of Article 2 of this Convention shall apply only to foundlings found in the territory of a Contracting State after the entry into force of the Convention for that State. (Emphasis supplied)
In short, even if the Philippines were to ratify the Convention today, the Convention would still not benefit petitioner who was born in 1968.

D. Applicable Customary International Law on
Citizenship of Foundlings

While there is no customary international law conferring nationality to foundlings at birth, there is no dispute that petitioner has the right to a nationality and the corollary right to be protected against statelessness.

The Philippines is not a signatory to the 1930 Hague Convention or to the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. However, the Philippines is a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Philippines also adheres to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The salient provisions of the CRC, the ICCPR and the UDHR on nationality establish principles that are considered customary international law because of the widespread and consistent practice of states and their obligatory nature among states. Generally, most states recognize the following core nationality provisions: (1) every human being has a right to a nationality; (2) states have the obligation to avoid statelessness; and (3) states have the obligation to facilitate the naturalization of stateless persons, including foundlings living within such states.

Right to a Nationality

Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that "everyone has the right to a nationality." With these words, the international community recognizes that every individual, everywhere in the world, should hold a legal bond of nationality with a state.[60]

The right to a nationality is a fundamental human right[61] from which springs the realization of other cardinal human rights. Possession of a nationality carries with it the diplomatic protection of the country of nationality and is also often a legal or practical requirement for the exercise of political and civil rights. Consequently, the right to a nationality has been described as the "right to have rights."[62]

Obligation to Avoid Statelessness

Closely linked to the right of the individual to a nationality is every state's obligation to avoid statelessness since the non-fulfillment of such right results in statelessness.[63] In determining who are its nationals, every state has an obligation to avoid cases of statelessness.

Obligation to Facilitate the Naturalization of Stateless Persons, Including Foundlings

The right to confer nationality, being an inherent right of every independent state, carries with it the obligation to grant nationality to individuals who would otherwise be stateless. To do this, states must facilitate the naturalization of stateless persons, including foundlings. Therefore, states must institute the appropriate processes and mechanisms, through the passage of appropriate statutes or guidelines, to comply with this obligation.

Most states recognize as customary international law the right of every human being to a nationality which in tum, requires those states to avoid statelessness, and to facilitate the naturalization of stateless persons, including foundlings. However, there is no customary international law conferring automatically citizenship at birth to foundlings, much less natural-born citizenship at birth as understood under the Philippine Constitution.

E. General Principle of International Law Applicable to Foundlings

Considering that there is no conventional or customary international law automatically conferring nationality to foundlings at birth, there are only two general principles of international law applicable to foundlings. First is that a foundling is deemed domiciled in the country where the foundling is found. A foundling is merely considered to have a domicile at birth, not a nationality at birth. Stated otherwise, a foundling receives at birth a domicile of origin which is the country in which the foundling is found.[64]

Second, in the absence of proof to the contrary, a foundling is deemed born in the country where the foundling is found.[65] These two general principles of international law have nothing to do with conferment of nationality.

F. Status of International Law Principles in the Philippines

Under Section 3, Article II of the 1935 Constitution,[66] Section 3, Article II of the 1973 Constitution,[67] and Section 2, Article II of the 1987 Constitution,[68] the Philippines adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land. International law can become part of domestic law either by transformation or incorporation.[69] The transformation method requires that an international law be transformed into a domestic law through a constitutional mechanism such as domestic legislation.[70] The incorporation method applies when, by mere constitutional declaration, international law is deemed to have the force of domestic law.[71]

The Philippine Constitution adheres to the incorporation method.

Any treaty, customary international law, or generally accepted international law principle has the status of municipal statutory law. As such, it must conform to our Constitution in order to be valid in the Philippines. If a treaty, customary international law or generally accepted international law principle does not contravene the Constitution and statutory laws, then it becomes part of the law of the land. If a treaty, customary international law or generally accepted international law principle conforms to the Constitution but conflicts with statutory law, what prevails is the later law in point of time as international law has the same standing as municipal statutory law.[72] However, if a treaty, customary international law or generally accepted international law principle conflicts with the Constitution, it is the Constitution that prevails. The Constitution remains supreme and prevails over any international legal instrument or principle in case of conflict. In explaining Section 2, Article II of the 1987 Constitution, the constitutionalist Father Joaquin Bernas, S.J. narrated:
When Commissioner Guingona asked whether "generally accepted principles of international law" were adopted by this provision as part of statutory law or of constitutional law, Nolledo's answer was unclear. He seemed to suggest that at least the provisions of the United Nations Charter would form part of both constitutional and statutory law. Nobody adverted to the fact that Nolledo's interpretation was a departure from what had hitherto been the accepted meaning of the provision. Later, however, during the period of amendment, Commissioner Azcuna clarified this by saying that generally accepted principles of international law were made part only of statutory law and not of constitutionallaw.[73] (Emphasis supplied)
Treaties, customary international law and the generally accepted principles of international law concerning citizenship cannot prevail over the provisions of the Constitution on citizenship in case of conflict with the latter.[74] Treaties, customary international law or generally accepted international law principles on acquisition of citizenship that contravene the language and intent of the Constitution cannot be given effect in the Philippines for being unconstitutional.

Assuming arguendo that there was in 1935 and thereafter a customary international law conferring nationality to foundlings at birth, still foundlings could not be considered as natural-born Filipino citizens since to treat them as such would conflict with the concept of jus sanguinis under the 1935 Constitution. As stated, in case of conflict between customary international law and the Constitution, it is the Constitution that prevails. The 1935 Constitution clearly required blood relation to the father to establish the natural-born citizenship of a child. The 1935 Constitution did not contain any provision expressly or impliedly granting Filipino citizenship to foundlings on the basis of birth in the Philippines (jus soli or law of the soil),[75] with the presumption of Filipino parentage so as to make them natural-born citizens.

Even assuming there was in 1935 and thereafter a customary international law granting to foundlings citizenship at birth, such citizenship at birth is not identical to the citizenship of a child who is biologically born to Filipino parents. The citizenship of a foundling can be granted at birth by operation of law, but the foundling is considered "naturalized in accordance with law" and not a natural-born citizen. Since a foundling's nationality is merely granted by operation of statutory law, specifically customary international law (which has the status of statutory law) assuming such exists, a foundling can only be deemed a Filipino citizen under paragraph 5, Section 1 of Article IV of the 1935 Constitution which refers to naturalized Filipino citizens. To add another category of natural-born Filipino citizens, particularly foundlings born in the Philippines whose parents are unknown, conflicts with the express language and intent of the 1935 Constitution to limit natural-born Filipino citizens to those whose fathers are Filipino citizens.

In short, there is a difference between citizenship at birth because of jus soli, and citizenship at birth because of jus sanguinis. The former may be granted to foundlings under Philippine statutory law pursuant to paragraph (5), Section 1 of Article IV of the 1935 Constitution but the Philippine citizenship thus granted is not that of a natural-born citizen but that of a naturalized citizen. Only those citizens at birth because of jus sanguinis, which requires blood relation to a parent, are natural-born Filipino citizens under the 1935, 1973 and 1987 Constitutions.

Foundlings as Naturalized Filipino Citizens

If a child's parents are neither Filipino citizens, the only way that the child may be considered a Filipino citizen is through the process of naturalization in accordance with statutory law under paragraph (5), Section 1 of Article IV of the 1935 Constitution. If a child's parents are unknown, as in the case of a foundling, there is no basis to consider the child as a natural­ born Filipino citizen since there is no proof that either the child's father or mother is a Filipino citizen. Thus, the only way that a foundling can be considered a Filipino citizen under the 1935 Constitution, as well as under the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions, is for the foundling to be naturalized in accordance with law.

In the Philippines, there are laws which provide for the naturalization of foreigners. These are Commonwealth Act No. 473,[76] as amended by Republic Act No. 530, known as the Revised Naturalization Law, which refers to judicial naturalization, and Republic Act No. 9139,[77] which pertains to administrative naturalization.

Significantly, there is no Philippine statute which provides for the grant of Filipino citizenship specifically to foundlings who are found in the Philippines. The absence of a domestic law on the naturalization of foundlings can be sufficiently addressed by customary international law, which recognizes the right of every human being to a nationality and obligates states to grant nationality to avoid statelessness. Customary international law can fill the gap in our municipal statutory law on naturalization of foundlings in order to prevent foundlings from being stateless. Otherwise, a foundling found in the Philippines with no known parents will be stateless on the sole ground that there is no domestic law providing for the grant of nationality. This not only violates the right of every human being to a nationality but also derogates from the Philippines' obligation to grant nationality to persons to avoid statelessness.

Customary international law has the same status as a statute enacted by Congress. Thus, it must not run afoul with the Constitution. Customary international law cannot validly amend the Constitution by adding another category of natural-born Filipino citizens, specifically by considering foundlings with no known parents as natural-born citizens. Again, under paragraphs (3) and (4) of Section 1, Article IVofthe 1935 Constitution, in relation to Sections 1 and 2, Article IV of the 1987 Constitution, only those born of Filipino fathers or Filipino mothers are considered natural-born Filipino citizens.

Applying customary international law to the present case, specifically the right of every human being to a nationality and the Philippines' obligation to grant citizenship to persons who would otherwise be stateless, a foundling may be naturalized as a Filipino citizen upon proper application for citizenship. This application should not be interpreted in the strictest sense of the word. On the contrary, the term "application" for purposes of acquiring citizenship must be construed liberally in order to facilitate the naturalization of foundlings. The application for citizenship may be any overt act which involves recognition by the Philippines that the foundling is indeed its citizen. Thus, the application for citizenship may be as simple as applying for a Philippine passport, which serves as evidence of citizenship.[78]  An application for a passport is an application for recognition that the holder is a citizen of the state issuing such passport. In the case of petitioner, she applied for, and was issued a Philippine passport on the following dates: (1) 4 April 1988;[79] (2) 5 April 1993;[80] (3) 19 May 1998;[81] (4) 13 October 2009;[82] (5) 19 December 2013;[83] and (6) 18 March 2014.[84]

In any event, for a foundling to be granted citizenship, it is necessary that the child's status as a foundling be first established. It must be proven that the child has no known parentage before the state can grant citizenship on account of the child being a foundling. In the Philippines, a child is determined to be a foundling after an administrative investigation verifying that the child is of unknown parentage. The Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Act No. 3753[85] and Other Laws on Civil Registration provide that the barangay captain or police authority shall certify that no one has claimed the child or no one has reported a missing child with the description of the foundling.[86] Rule 29 of the said IRR provides:
RULE 29. Requirements for Registration of Foundling. - No foundling shall be recorded in the civil registrar unless the following requirements are complied with:

a) Certificate of Foundling (OCRG Form No. 101, Revised January 1993) accomplished correctly and completely;

b) Affidavit of the finder stating the facts and circumstances surrounding the finding of the child, and the fact that the foundling has been reported to the barangay captain or to the police authority, as the case may be; and

c) Certification of the barangay captain or police authority regarding the report made by the finder, stating among other things, that no one has claimed the child or no one has reported a missing child whose description may be the same as the foundling as of the date of the certification. (Emphasis supplied)
Before a foundling is conferred Philippine citizenship, there must first be a factual determination of the child's status as a foundling after an administrative investigation. Once factually determined that a child is a foundling, that child through its guardian may thereafter initiate proceedings to apply for Philippine citizenship, e.g., apply for a Philippine passport.

This need for a factual determination prevents the foundling from automatically acquiring Philippine citizenship at birth. The fact of unknown parentage must first be proven in an administrative proceeding before a foundling is granted citizenship on account of the child's foundling status. Such factual determination is a necessary act to acquire Philippine citizenship, preventing the foundling from being a natural-born Filipino citizen. In contrast, for natural-born Filipino citizens, no factual determination in an administrative proceeding is required to grant citizenship since the certificate of live birth speaks for itself- it establishes natural-born citizenship.

Erroneous Interpretation of Statistics

During the Oral Arguments, the Solicitor General insisted that petitioner is a natural-born Filipino citizen based on the 99.93% statistical probability that any child born in the Philippines from 2010 to 2014 would be a natural-born Filipino citizen. From 1965 to 1975, there is a 99.83% statistical probability that a child born in the Philippines would be a natural­ born Filipino citizen. To buttress his position, the Solicitor General presented a certification from the Philippine Statistics Authority showing the "number of foreign and Filipino children born in the Philippines: 1965-1975 and 2010-2014."

This is grave error.

There is no law or jurisprudence which supports the Solicitor General's contention that natural-born citizenship can be conferred on a foundling based alone on statistical probability. Absent any legal foundation for such argument, the Solicitor General cannot validly conclude that a 99.93% (or 99.83%) statistical probability that a foundling born in the Philippines is a natural-born Filipino citizen legally confers on such foundling natural-born citizenship. There is no constitutional provision or statute that confers natural-born citizenship based on statistical probability.

The Solicitor General's data speak of foreign and Filipino births in the Philippines. The data collected show the number of foreign and Filipino children born in the Philippines during the periods covered. This means that the figures reflect the total number of children born in the Philippines with known parents, either Filipino or foreigner. The data do not show the number of foundlings (those with unknown parentage) born in the Philippines from 1965 to 1975 and from 2010 to 2014. The data also do not show the number of foundlings who were later determined to have Filipino parentage. This is precisely because foundlings have unknown parents. A foundling's unknown parentage renders it quite difficult, if not impossible, to collect data on "the number of foreign and Filipino foundlings."

For the Solicitor General's proposition to be correct, he should have presented statistics specifically based on the number of foundlings born in the Philippines, and not on the number of children born in the Philippines with known foreign or Filipino parents. Children with known parents constitute a class entirely different from foundlings with unknown parents. Gathering data from the number of children born in the Philippines with known parents to determine the number of foundlings born in the Philippines to confer natural-born citizenship on foundlings resembles comparing apples with oranges and avocados. Since the figures were collected from the universe of children with known parents, either Filipinos or foreigners, and not from the universe of foundlings, the Solicitor General's proposition is fallacious in concluding that foundlings in the Philippines are natural-born Filipino citizens.

Further, if there is a 99.93% (or 99.83%) probability that a child born in the Philippines is a natural-born Filipino citizen, it does not automatically follow that there is a 99.93% (or 99.83%) probability that a foundling born in the Philippines is a natural-born Filipino citizen. The data, if any, on the universe of foundlings may show a different statistical probability. There is evidently no such statistical data. Therefore, the Solicitor General's argument that the probability that a foundling born in the Philippines would be a natural-born Filipino is 99.93% (or 99.83%) based on the number of children born in the Philippines with known parents is glaringly non­sequitur.

The following exchange between Justice Carpio and the Solicitor General illustrates the fallacy of the so-called 99.93% (99.83%) statistical probability advanced by the Solicitor General. Such statistical probability would result in patent absurdities.
JUSTICE CARPIO:
Now, how does the Constitution define natural-born citizen?

xxxx

SOLICITOR GENERAL HILBAY:
Natural-born citizens of the Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their citizenship.

JUSTICE CARPIO:
Okay. Let us assume that an infant is found, a three day infant is found today in front of the Manila Cathedral. The infant has blue eyes, blonde hair, milky white skin. The parish priest looks around and doesn't find any one claiming the child. So, the parish priest goes to the DSWD, turns over the child to the DSWD. The DSWD conducts an investigation, a formal investigation, to find out if the biological parents are around if they can be found. Nobody comes out, so the DSWD issues a foundling certificate, okay. What is the nationality of the child? Is the child a natural-born citizen of the Philippines?

SOLICITOR GENERAL HILBAY:
I would consider the child a natural-born citizen of the Philippines because 99.9 percent of the time, that child will be a natural born citizen.

JUSTICE CARPIO:
So even if the child has blue eyes, blonde hair, Caucasian skin...

SOLICITOR GENERAL HILBAY:
It's possible for Filipinos to have blue eyes, Your Honor.

JUSTICE CARPIO: Blonde hair?

SOLICITOR GENERAL HILBAY:
It's possible Your Honor.

JUSTICE CARPIO:
How many percent?

SOLICITOR GENERAL HILBAY:
Again, Your Honor, if we are looking at percentage....

JUSTICE CARPIO:
How many percent of Filipinos, natural-born, have blue eyes, blonde hair, white skin, 99.9 percent?

SOLICITOR GENERAL HILBAY:
I don't know about the specific numbers.....

x x x x

JUSTICE CARPIO:
You don't have the statistics.

x x x x

SOLICITOR GENERAL HILBAY:
I don't, Your Honor, I don't.

x x x x

JUSTICE CARPIO:
So, you would say that every child born in the Philippines who has blue eyes, blonde hair, white skin, whose parents cannot be found, and there is a certificate by the DSWD that's a foundling, they are all natural­ born citizens of the Philippines. If Filipino....

SOLICITOR GENERAL HILBAY:
Your Honor, I am not threatened by people with blue eyes and, you know, blonde...

JUSTICE CARPIO:
Yes, but my question is, what is the nationality of those children, of those infants?

SOLICITOR GENERAL HILBAY:
Natural-born Filipinos still, Your Honor.

x x x x

JUSTICE CARPIO:
Supposing now, there is a DNA taken from the child[ren], you say they are natural-born citizens. The DNA shows that they have Caucasian genes, no Asian genes at all, would you say they are natural-born citizens of the Philippines?

SOLICITOR GENERAL HILBAY:
Well, it's possible for Caucasians to be Filipinos, Your Honor, and natural-born Filipinos.

JUSTICE CARPIO:
If their parents are Filipinos.

SOLICITOR GENERAL HILBAY:
Yes, exactly, Your Honor.

JUSTICE CARPIO:
But if you don't know who their parents....

SOLICITOR GENERAL HILBAY:
Then I, again, would go back to 99.9 percent, which is a rather comfortable number for me.

JUSTICE CARPIO:
Yes, but how many percent of Filipinos have blue eyes, blonde hair and white skin?

SOLICITOR GENERAL HILBAY:
That is an irrelevant fact for me, Your Honor. I'm not looking at the class of citizens....

x x x x

JUSTICE CARPIO:
You have to look at the statistics also.

SOLICITOR GENERAL HILBAY:
Yes, Your Honor, ofcourse.[87] (Emphasis supplied)
For the Solicitor General to assert that a foundling with blond hair, blue eyes, and milky white Caucasian skin, with no Asian gene in the foundling's DNA, is a natural-born Filipino citizen, is the height of absurdity. The Solicitor General's position amends the Constitution and makes jus soli the governing principle for foundlings, contrary to the jus sanguinis principle enshrined in the 1935, 1973, and 1987 Constitutions.

Philippine Laws and Jurisprudence on Adoption
Not Determinative of Natural-Born Citizenship

During the Oral Arguments, the Chief Justice cited Republic Act No. 8552 (RA 8552) or the Domestic Adoption Act of 1998 and Republic Act No. 8043 (RA 8043) or the Inter-Country Adoption Act of 1995 in arguing that there are domestic laws which govern the citizenship of foundlings.

This is an obvious mistake.

The term "natural-born Filipino citizen" does not appear in these statutes describing qualified adoptees. In fact, while the term "Filipino" is mentioned, it is found only in the title of RA 8552 and RA 8043. The texts of these adoption laws do not contain the term "Filipino." Specifically, the provisions on the qualified adoptees read:
RA 8552, Section 8

Section 8. Who May Be Adopted. - The following may be adopted:

(a) Any person below eighteen (18) years of age who has been administratively or judicially declared available for adoption;

(b) The legitimate son/daughter of one spouse by the other spouse;

(c) An illegitimate son/daughter by a qualified adopter to improve his/her status to that of legitimacy;

(d) A person of legal age if, prior to the adoption, said person has been consistently considered and treated by the adopter(s) as his/her own child since minority;

(e) A child whose adoption has been previously rescinded; or

(f) A child whose biological or adoptive parent(s) has died: Provided, That no proceedings shall be initiated within six (6) months from the time of death of said parent(s).

RA 8053, Section 8

Sec. 8. Who May be Adopted. - Only a legally free child may be the subject of inter-country adoption. x x x.
Clearly, there is no specific provision in these adoption laws requiring that adoptees must be Filipinos, much less natural-born Filipinos. These adoption laws do not distinguish between a Filipino child and an alien child found in the Philippines, and thus these adoption laws apply to both Filipino and alien children found in the Philippines. In other words, either Filipino or alien children found in the Philippines, over which the Philippine government exercises jurisdiction as they are presumed domiciled in the Philippines, may be subject to adoption under RA 8552 or RA 8043.

However, the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 8552, issued by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, provide that they shall "apply to the adoption in the Philippines of a Filipino child by a Filipino or alien qualified to adopt under Article III, Section 7 of RA 8552."[88] The IRR, in effect, restricted the scope of RA 8552 when the IRR expressly limited its applicability to the adoption of a Filipino child when the law itself, RA 8552, does not distinguish between a Filipino and an alien child. In such a case, the IRR must yield to the clear terms of RA 8552. Basic is the rule that the letter of the law is controlling and cannot be amended by an administrative rule. In Perez v. Phil. Telegraph and Telephone Co.,[89] the Court declared:
At the outset, we reaffirm the time-honored doctrine that, in case of conflict, the law prevails over the administrative regulations implementing it. The authority to promulgate implementing rules proceeds from the law itself. To be valid, a rule or regulation must conform to and be consistent with the provisions of the enabling statute. As such, it cannot amend the law either by abridging or expanding its scope. (Emphasis supplied)
In Hijo Plantation, Inc. v. Central Bank of the Philippines,[90] the Court ruled:
x x x [I]n case of discrepancy between the basic law and a rule or regulation issued to implement said law, the basic law prevails because said rule or regulation cannot go beyond the terms and provisions of the basic law. Rules that subvert the statute cannot be sanctioned.
In Cebu Oxygen & Acetylene Co., Inc. v. Drilon,[91] the Court stated:
x x x [I]t is a fundamental rule that implementing rules cannot add or detract from the provisions of law it is designed to implement. The provisions of Republic Act No. 6640, do not prohibit the crediting of CBA anniversary wage increases for purposes of compliance with Republic Act No. 6640. The implementing rules cannot provide for such a prohibition not contemplated by the law.

Administrative regulations adopted under legislative authority by a particular department must be in harmony with the provisions of the law, and should be for the sole purpose of carrying into effect its general provisions. The law itself cannot be expanded by such regulations. An administrative agency cannot amend an act of Congress. (Emphasis supplied)
The following exchange during the Oral Arguments highlights the Chief Justice's glaringly erroneous interpretation of RA 8552 and RA 8043, thus:
JUSTICE CARPIO:
Okay, Let's go to x x x adoption laws. x x x [W]e have an adoption law, correct?

COMMISSIONER LIM:
Yes, Your Honor.

JUSTICE CARPIO:
x x x Republic Act...8552?

COMMISSIONER LIM:
Yes, Your Honor.

JUSTICE CARPIO:
It says who can be adopted, correct? Who may be adopted? Section 8, correct?

COMMISSIONER LIM:
Yes, Your Honor.

JUSTICE CARPIO:
Does it say there that the adoptee must be a citizen of the Philippines?

COMMISSIONER LIM:
Yes, Your Honor.

JUSTICE CARPIO:
x x x Can you read Section 8.

COMMISSIONER LIM:
I stand corrected, Your Honor, it does not require citizenship.

JUSTICE CARPIO:
There is no requirement.

COMMISSIONER LIM:
Yes, Your Honor.

JUSTICE CARPIO:
Because the law covers citizens of the Philippines and children not citizens of Philippines but found here.

COMMISSIONER LIM:
Yes, Your Honor.

JUSTICE CARPIO:
If a foundling cannot be shown to be a citizen of the Philippines, can we exercise jurisdiction and have that child adopted?

COMMISSIONER LIM:
Yes, Your Honor.

JUSTICE CARPIO:
Do we have the power, the State has the power? Yes, because a foundling is deemed to be domiciled where?

COMMISSIONER LIM:
In the place ofhis birth.

JUSTICE CARPIO:
If his place [of] birth is unknown, where is he presumed to be domiciled?

COMMISSIONER LIM:
He is presumed to be domiciled in the territory of the State where the foundling is found.

JUSTICE CARPIO:
Yes, because the domicile of a foundling is presumed to be where he is found.

COMMISSIONER LIM:
Yes, Your Honor.

JUSTICE CARPIO:
That's why the State has jurisdiction over him for adoption purposes. And if no other State will claim him with more reason, we will have jurisdiction over a foundling, correct?

COMMISSIONER LIM:
Yes, Your Honor.

JUSTICE CARPIO:
Okay. So, the law does not distinguish whether Philippine citizen or non-Philippine citizen, whether natural born-Filipinos or naturalized, none. There's no distinction?

COMMISSIONER LIM:
That's correct, Your Honor.

JUSTICE CARPIO:
Okay. Let's go to the Supreme Court x x x rule on adoption. We adopted this in 2002. What does it say? Who may be adopted?

COMMISSIONER LIM:
Any person below 18 years of age...

JUSTICE CARPIO:
Does it say that only citizens of the Philippines?

COMMISSIONER LIM:
No, Your Honor.

JUSTICE CARPIO:
There's no...

COMMISSIONER LIM:
Yes, Your Honor.

JUSTICE CARPIO:
...nothing there which says only citizens of the Philippines can be adopted.

COMMISSIONER LIM:
Yes, Your Honor.

JUSTICE CARPIO:
Precisely because we don't know the citizenship of a foundling.

COMMISSIONER LIM:
That's right, Your Honor.

JUSTICE CARPIO:
That's why it's not required that he would be a Filipino, correct?

COMMISSIOl'JER LIM:
Yes, Your Honor.

JUSTICE CARPIO:
Okay. Let's go to the implementing rule and regulation of R.A. 8552. x x x. It says here, this is an implementing rule and regulation to implement Republic Act 8552. So this was promulgated by the administrative agency, by DSWD, correct?

COMMISSIONER LIM:
Correct, Your Honor.

JUSTICE CARPIO:
Okay. It says here applicability, Section 2, the Rule shall apply to the adoption in the Philippines of a Filipino child by a Filipino or alien qualified to adopt. So it limits adoption to Philippines citizens, to a Filipino child?

COMMISSIONER LIM:
Yes, Your Honor.

JUSTICE CARPIO:
Okay, This is supposed to implement the law. Can the implementing rules restrict the law?

COMMISSIONER LIM:
Water cannot rise higher than its source, Your Honor...

JUSTICE CARPIO:
Okay.

COMMISSIONER LIM:
The IRR....

JUSTICE CARPIO:
Do you have a decision, jurisprudence for that, that an Implementing Rule cannot expand and cannot deduct from what the law provides?

COMMISSIONER LIM:
I cannot cite one now, Your Honor.

JUSTICE CARPIO:
Okay. Cebu Oxygen v. Drilon, x x x. It says here it is a fundamental rule that Implementing Rules cannot add or detract from the provisions of law it is designed to implement. x x x. But this implementing rule says only Filipinos can be adopted. That cannot be done, correct?

COMMISSIONER LIM:
Yes, Your Honor.

JUSTICE CARPIO:
Fundamental rule, if the Court says fundamental rule, all practicing lawyers must know that, correct?

COMMISSIONER LIM:
Yes, Your Honor.[92]
Moreover, contrary to the opinion of the Chief Justice during the Oral Arguments, the cases of Ellis v. Republic of the Philippines[93] and Duncan v. CFI Rizal[94] do not apply in this case since the Ellis and Duncan cases do not involve foundlings or their citizenship. These two cases are about adoption, not about citizenship or foundlings.

In Ellis, the only issue before the Court was whether petitioners, not being permanent residents in the Philippines, were qualified to adopt Baby Rose. The citizenship of the abandoned Baby Rose was not put in issue. Baby Rose's mother was known since she delivered Baby Rose at the Caloocan Maternity Hospital but left Baby Rose four days later to the Heart of Mary Villa, an institution for unwed mothers and their babies. The Court in Ellis stated:
Baby Rose was born on September 26, 1959, at the Caloocan Maternity Hospital. Four or five days later, the mother of Rose left her with the Heart of Mary Villa - an institution for unwed mothers and their babies - stating that she (the mother) could not take of Rose without bringing disgrace upon her (the mother's family.).[95]
In short, Baby Rose was not a foundling because her mother was known. The Court merely mentioned in the decision that Baby Rose was a "citizen of the Philippines," thus, the local courts have jurisdiction over her status. The term "natural-born Filipino citizen" is not found in the decision.

On the other hand, the case of Duncan involved solely the issue of whether or not the person who gave the consent for adoption, Atty. Corazon de Leon Velasquez, was the proper person required by law to give such consent. The unwed mother entrusted the baby to Atty. Velasquez who knew the mother. The Court in Duncan stated:
Sometime in May of 1967, the child subject of this adoption petition, undisputedly declared as only three days old then, was turned over by its mother to witness Atty. Corazon de Leon Velasquez. The natural and unwedded mother, from that date on to the time of the adoption proceedings in court which started in mid- year of said 1967, and up to the present, has not bothered to inquire into the condition of the child, much less to contribute to the livelihood, maintenance and care of the same. x x x.We are convinced that in fact said mother had completely and absolutely abandoned her child.[96]
In short, the baby was not a foundling because the mother was known. Again, the Court did not mention the term "natural-born Filipino citizen." Neither did the Court classify the abandoned infant as a Filipino citizen.

Burden of Proof

Any person who claims to be a citizen of the Philippines has the burden of proving his or her Philippine citizenship.[97] Any person who claims to be qualified to run for the position of President of the Philippines because he or she is, among others, a natural-born Filipino citizen, has the burden of proving he or she is a natural-born Filipino citizen. Any doubt whether or not he or she is natural-born Filipino citizen is resolved against him or her. The constitutional requirement of a natural-born citizen, being an express qualification for election as President, must be complied with strictly. As the Court ruled in Paa v. Chan:[98
It is incumbent upon the respondent, 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.[99] (Emphasis supplied)
This statement in Paa was reiterated in the 2009 case of Go, Sr. v. Ramos.
[100] Paa and Go lay down three doctrines: First, a person claiming Philippine citizenship has the burden of proving his claim. Second, there can be no presumption in favor of Philippine citizenship. This negates petitioner's claim to any presumption that she is a natural-born Filipino Citizen. Third, any doubt on citizenship is resolved against the person claiming Philippine citizenship. Therefore, a person claiming to be a Filipino citizen, whether natural-born or naturalized, cannot invoke any presumption of citizenship but must establish such citizenship as a matter of fact and not by presumptions, with any doubt resolved against him or her.

While it is the burden of the private respondents to first prove the fact of disqualification before the petitioner is called upon to defend herself with countervailing evidence,[101] in this case, there is no dispute that petitioner is a foundling with unknown biological parents. Since petitioner's parentage is unknown as shown in her Certificate of Live Birth, such birth certificate does not show on its face that she is a natural-born Filipino citizen. This shifted the burden of evidence to petitioner to prove that she is a natural­born Filipino citizen eligible to run as President of the Philippines.

Since the Constitution requires that the President of the Philippines shall be a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, it is imperative that petitioner prove that she is a natural-born Filipino citizen, despite the fact that she is a foundling. The burden of evidence shifted to her when she admitted her status as a foundling with no known biological parents. At that moment, it became her duty to prove that she is a natural-born Filipino citizen.[102]

DNA Evidence

As the burden of evidence has shifted to petitioner, it is her duty to present evidence to support her claim that she is a natural-born Filipino citizen, and thus eligible to run for President. The issue of parentage may be resolved by conventional methods or by using available modem and scientific means.[103] One of the evidence that she could have presented is deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) evidence[104] which could conclusively show that she is biologically (maternally or paternally) related to a Filipino citizen, which in tum would determine whether she is a natural-born Filipino citizen.

The probative value of such DNA evidence, however, would still have to be examined by the Court. In assessing the probative value of DNA evidence, the Court would consider, among others things, the following data: how the samples were collected, how they were handled, the possibility of contamination of the samples, the procedure followed in analyzing the samples, whether the proper standards and procedures were followed in conducting the tests, and the qualification of the analyst who conducted the tests.[105] More specifically, they must be evaluated in accordance with A.M. No. 06-11-5-SC or the Rule on DNA Evidence:[106]
Sec. 9. Evaluation of DNA Testing Results. - In evaluating the results of DNA testing, the court shall consider the following:

(a) The evaluation of the weight of matching DNA evidence or the relevance of mismatching DNA evidence;

(b) The results of the DNA testing in the light of the totality of the other evidence presented in the case; and that

(c) DNA results that exclude the putative parent from paternity shall be conclusive proof of non-paternity. If the value of the Probability of Paternity[107] is less than 99.9% the results of the DNA testing shall be considered as corroborative evidence. If the value of the Probability of Paternity is 99.9% or higher, there shall be a disputable presumption of paternity.
Petitioner is Not a Natural-Born Filipino Citizen

The 1987 Philippine Constitution is clear: "No person may be elected President unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, x x x, and a resident of the Philippines for at least ten years immediately preceding such election." Is petitioner, being a foundling, a natural-born Filipino citizen?

The answer is clearly no. First, there is no Philippine law automatically conferring Philippine citizenship to a foundling at birth. Even if there were, such a law would only result in the foundling being a naturalized Filipino citizen, not a natural-born Filipino citizen.

Second, there is no legal presumption in favor of Philippine citizenship, whether natural-born or naturalized. Citizenship must be established as a matter of fact and any doubt is resolved against the person claiming Philippine citizenship.

Third, the letter and intent of the 1935 Constitution clearly excluded foundlings from being considered natural-born Filipino citizens. The Constitution adopts the jus sanguinis principle, and identifies natural-born Filipino citizens as only those whose fathers or mothers are Filipino citizens. Petitioner failed to prove that either her father or mother is a Filipino citizen.

Fourth, there is no treaty, customary international law or a general principle of international law granting automatically Philippine citizenship to a foundling at birth. Petitioner failed to prove that there is such a customary international law. At best, there exists a presumption that a foundling is domiciled, and born, in the country where the foundling is found.

Fifth, even assuming that there is a customary international law presuming that a foundling is a citizen of the country where the foundling is found, or is born to parents possessing the nationality of that country, such presumption cannot prevail over our Constitution since customary international law has the status merely of municipal statutory law. This means that customary international law is inferior to the Constitution, and must yield to the Constitution in case of conflict. Since the Constitution adopts the jus sanguinis principle, and identifies natural-born Filipino citizens as only those whose fathers or mothers are Filipino citizens, then petitioner must prove that either her father or mother is a Filipino citizen for her to be considered a natural-born Filipino citizen. Any international law which contravenes the jus sanguinis principle in the Constitution must of course be rejected.

Sixth, petitioner failed to discharge her burden to prove that she is a natural-born Filipino citizen. Being a foundling, she admitted that she does not know her biological parents, and therefore she cannot trace blood relation to a Filipino father or mother. Without credible and convincing evidence that petitioner's biological father or mother is a Filipino citizen, petitioner cannot be considered a natural-born Filipino citizen.

Seventh, a foundling has to perform an act, that is, prove his or her status as a foundling, to acquire Philippine citizenship. This being so, a foundling can only be deemed a naturalized Filipino citizen because the foundling has to perform an act to acquire Philippine citizenship. Since there is no Philippine law specifically governing the citizenship of foundlings, their citizenship is addressed by customary international law, namely: the right of every human being to a nationality, and the State's obligations to avoid statelessness and to facilitate the naturalization of foundlings.

During the Oral Arguments, the purportedly sad and depressing plight of foundlings if found not to be natural-born Filipino citizens, particularly their disqualification from being elected to high public office and appointed to high government positions, had been pointed out once again. As I have stated, this appeals plainly to human emotions.[108] This emotional plea, however, conveniently forgets the express language of the Constitution reserving those high positions, particularly the Presidency, exclusively to natural-born Filipino citizens. Even naturalized Filipino citizens, whose numbers are far more than foundlings, are not qualified to run for President. The natural-born citizenship requirement under the Constitution to qualify as a candidate for President must be complied with strictly. To rule otherwise amounts to a patent violation of the Constitution. It is basic in Constitutional Law that the qualification requirements prescribed by the Constitution must be complied with by all presidential candidates, regardless of popularity or circumstances. Being sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution, the Members of this Court have no other choice but to apply the clear letter and intent of the Constitution.

However, a decision denying natural-born citizenship to a foundling on the ground of absence of proof of blood relation to a Filipino parent never becomes final.[109] Res judicata does not apply to questions of citizenship. In Moy Ya Lim Yao v. Commissioner of Immigration,[110] cited in Lee v. Commissioner of Immigration,[111] this Court declared that:
[e]very time 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. x x x.
Likewise, in Go, Sr. v. Ramos,[112] which involved the citizenship of Jimmy T. Go, as well as his father Carlos, who was alleged to be an illegal and undesirable alien in our country and thus was subjected to deportation proceedings, the Court stated that citizenship cases are sui generis and res judicata does not apply in such cases:
x x x Cases involving issues on citizenship are sui generis. Once the citizenship of an individual is put into question, it necessarily has to be threshed out and decided upon. In the case of Frivaldo v. Commission on Elections, we said that decisions declaring the acquisition or denial of citizenship cannot govern a person's future status with finality. This is because a person may subsequently reacquire, or for that matter, lose his citizenship under any of the modes recognized by law for the purpose. Indeed, if the issue of one's citizenship, after it has been passed upon by the courts, leaves it still open to future adjudication, then there is more reason why the government should not be precluded from questioning one's claim to Philippine citizenship, especially so when the same has never been threshed out by any tribunal.

x x x x

Citizenship proceedings, as aforestated, are a class of its own, in that, unlike other cases, res judicata does not obtain as a matter of course. In a long line of decisions, this Court said that every time 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 judicata; hence, it has to be threshed out again and again as the occasion may demand. Res judicata may be applied in cases of citizenship only if the following concur:

1. a person's citizenship must be raised as a material issue in a controversy where said person is a party;

2. the Solicitor General or his authorized representative took active part in the resolution thereof; and

3. the finding or citizenship is affirmed by this Court.
Consequently, if in the future, petitioner can find a DNA match to a Filipino parent, or any other credible and convincing evidence showing her Filipino parentage, then petitioner can still be declared a natural-born Filipino citizen.

Not being a natural-born Filipino citizen, petitioner is a nuisance candidate whose certificate of candidacy for President can motu proprio be cancelled by the COMELEC. In fact, the COMELEC is duty-bound to cancel petitioner's COC because to allow a person who, as found by the COMELEC is not a natural-born Filipino citizen, to run for President makes a mockery of the election process. Since petitioner is not a natural-born Filipino citizen, I deem it irrelevant to discuss the issue of whether petitioner complied with the ten-year residency requirement to run for President. At any rate, assuming petitioner is a natural-born Filipino citizen, which she is not, I concur with Justice Mariano C. Del Castillo's Dissenting Opinion on the residency issue.

A final word. The Constitution defines natural-born citizens as "those who are citizens of the Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their Philippine citizenship." "From birth" means that the possession of natural-born citizenship starts at birth and continues to the present without interruption. The phrase "without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their Philippine citizenship" means that a person is not a natural-born Filipino citizen if he or she has to take an oath of allegiance before a public official to acquire or reacquire Philippine citizenship. This precludes the reacquisition of natural-born citizenship that has been lost through renunciation of Philippine citizenship. The fact that the reacquisition of citizenship is made possible only through legislation by Congress - Republic Act No. 9225[113] means that Philippine citizenship is acquired pursuant to paragraph (4), Section 1 of Article IV of the 1987 Constitution, referring to "[t]hose who are naturalized in accordance with law."

In short, natural-born Filipino citizens who have renounced Philippine citizenship and pledged allegiance to a foreign country have become aliens, and can reacquire Philippine citizenship, just like other aliens, only if "naturalized in accordance with law." Otherwise, a natural-born Filipino citizen who has absolutely renounced and abjured allegiance to the Philippines and pledged sole allegiance to the United States, undertaking to bear arms against any foreign country, including the Philippines, when required by U.S. law,[114] could still become the Commander-in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines by performing a simple act taking an oath of allegiance before a Philippine public official to reacquire natural-born Philippine citizenship. The framers of the Constitution, and the Filipino people who ratified the Constitution, could not have intended such an anomalous situation. For this reason, this Court should one day revisit the doctrine laid down in Bengson III v. HRET.[115]

ACCORDINGLY, there being no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Commission on Elections En Banc, I vote to DISMISS the petitions.


[1] This provision reads:

SECTION 2. 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. (Emphasis supplied)

[2] Under Rule 65, in relation to Rule 64, of the Rules of Civil Procedure.

[3] In G.R. Nos. 221698-700, petitioner assails the COMELEC Resolutions dated 11 December 2015 (issued by the COMELEC's First Division) and 23 December 2015 (issued by the COMELEC En Banc).

In G.R. No. 221697, petitioner assails the COMELEC Resolutions dated 1 December 2015 (issued by the COMELEC's Second Division) and 23 December 2015 (issued by the COMELEC En Banc).

[4] This provision pertinently reads:

SECTION 2. The Commission on Elections shall exercise the following powers and functions:

(1) Enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum, and recall

[5] 468 Phil. 421, 624-642 (2004).

[6] Id. at 625-626.

[7] Section 69 of the Omnibus Election Code provides:

Sec. 69. Nuisance candidates. - The Commission may motu proprio or upon a verified petition of an interested party, refuse to give due course to or cancel a certificate of candidacy if it is shown that said certificate has been filed to put the election process in mockery or disrepute or to cause confusion among the voters by the similarity of the names of the registered candidates or by other circumstances or acts which clearly demonstrate that the candidate has no bona fide intention to run for the office for which the certificate of candidacy has been filed and thus prevent a faithful determination of the true will of the electorate. (Emphasis supplied)

[8] G.R. No. 206004, 24 February 2015.

[9] G.R. No. 161872, 13 April 2004, 427 SCRA 96, 104, 105.

[10] Supra note 8.

[11] Eduardo Abaya, A Critical Study on the Effect of Adoption on Citizenship Status in the Philippines, Philippine Law Journal, Vol. XXIII, No. 1, February 1948, p. 444 (http://plj.upd.edu.ph/wp­content/uploads/plj/PLJ%20volume%2023/PLJ%20volume%2023%20number%201/PLJ%20volume%2023%20number%201%20-04-%20Eduardo%20Abaya%20-%20A%20Critical%20Study%20on%20the%20effect%20of%20adoption%20on%20citizenship%20status%20in%20the%20Philippines.pdf; last accessed on 2 March 2016).

[12] Eduardo Abaya, A Critical Study on the Effect of Adoption on Citizenship Status in the Philippines, Philippine Law Journal, Vol. XXIII, No. 1, February 1948, p. 448, http://plj.upd.edu.ph/wp­content/uploads/plj/PLJ%20volume%2023/PLJ%20volume%2023%20number%201/PLJ%20volume%2023%20number%201%20-04-%20Eduardo%20Abaya%20-%20A%20Critical%20Study%20on%20the%20effect%20of%20adoption%20on%20citizenship%20status%20in%20the%20Philippines.pdf; last accessed on 2 March 2016).

[13] Some of the cases applying the jus soli principle:

Roa v. Collector of Customs, 23 Phil. 315 (1912)
Vaño v. Collector of Customs
, 23 Phil. 480 (1912)
US v. Ang, 36 Phil. 858 (1917)
US v. Lim Bin, 36 Phil. 924 (1917)
Go Julian v. Government of the Philippines, 45 Phil. 289 (1923)

[14] 79 Phil. 249 (1947).

[15] See Irene R. Cortes and Raphael Perpetuo M. Lotilla, Nationality and International Law from the Philippine Perspective, Philippine Law Journal, Vol. 60, No. 1, Supplemental Issue, 1985, p. 18 (http://plj.upd.edu.ph/wp-content/uploads/plj/PLJ%20volume%2060/PLJ%20volume%2060%20supplemental%20issue/PLJ%20Volume%2060%20supplemental%20issue%20-01­%20Irene%20R.%20Cortez%20&%20Rapael%20Perpetuo%20M.%20Lotilla%20-%20Nationality%20and%201nternational%20Law.pdf; last accessed on 2 March 2016).

[16] Section 2, Article IV of the 1987 Constitution reads:

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 shall be deemed natural-born citizens.

[17] Sections l and 2, Article IV of the 1987 Constitution provide:

SECTION 1. 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.

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 l hereof shall be deemed natural-born citizens.

[18] 276 Phil. 758 (1991).

[19] Id. at 784.

[20] Id. at 782-783.

[21] Petitioner's Petition, p. 112. Underscoring in the original and boldfacing supplied.

[22] Manifestation dated 4 January 2016, adopting the Solicitor General's Comment in G.R. No. 221538, Rizalito Y. David v. Senate Electoral Tribunal. Emphasis supplied.

[23] Comment in G.R. No. 221538, pp. 6, 9, 10.

[24] Proceedings of the Philippine Constitutional Convention, Vol. IV, 26 November 1934, pp. 186-188.

[25] Petitioner's Memorandum, pp. 103-104.

[26] 23 Phil. 315, 330-331 (1912).

[27] This is the English translation of the explanation given by Delegate Roxas during the deliberations.  Jose M. Aruego, THE FRAMING oF THE PHILIPPINE CONSTITUTION, 1949, Vol. 1, pp. 404-405.

The portions of the records read:

SR. ROXAS. Señor Presidente, Ia frase natural born citizen aparece en la Constitucion de los Estados Unidos; pero los autores dicen que esta frase nunca ha sido interpretada autoritativamente por la Corte Suprema de los Estados Unidos, en vista de que nunca se habia suscitado la cuestion de si un Presidente elegido, reunia o no esta condicion. Los autores estan uniformes en que las palabras natural born citizen, quiere decir un ciudadano por nacimiento, una persona que es ciudadano por razon de su nacimiento y no por naturalizacion o por cualquiera declaracion ulterior exigida por la ley para su ciudadania. En Filipinas, por ejemplo, bajo las disposiciones de los articulos sabre ciudadania que hemos aprobado, seria ciudadano por nacimiento, o sea natural born todos aquellos nacidos de un padre que es ciudadano filipino, ya sea una persona nacida en Filipinas o fuera de elias.

Y con respeto de uno nacido de madre filipina, pero de padre extranjero, el articulo que aprobamos sobre ciudadania, requiere de que al llegar a la mayoria de edad, este hijo necesita escoger la ciudadania por la cual opta, y si opta por la ciudadania filipina al llegar a la mayoria de edad, entonces sera considerado ciudadano filipino. Bajo esta interpretacion el hijo de una madre filipina con padre extranjero, no seria un ciudadano por nacimiento, por aquello de que la ley o la Constitucion requiere que haga una declaracion ulterior a su nacimiento. Porlo tanto, la frase a natural born citizen, tal como se emplea en el texto ingles, quiere decir un ciudadano filipino por nacimiento, sin tener en cuenta donde ha nacido. (Proceedings of the Philippine Constitutional Convention, Vol. V, 18 December 1934, pp. 307-308).

[28] 169 U.S. 649 (1898).

[29] Supra note 26.

[30] Eduardo Abaya, A Critical Study on the Effect of Adoption on Citizenship Status in the Philippines, Philippine Law Journal, Vol. XXIII, No. 1, February 1948, p. 443 (http://plj.upd.edu.ph/wp­content/uploads/plj/PLJ%20volume%2023/PLJ%20volume%2023%20number%201/PLJ%20volume%2023%20number201%20-04-%20Eduardo%20Abaya%20-%20A%20Critical%20Study%20on%20the%20effect%20ot%20adoption%20on%20citizenship%20status%20in%20the%20Philippines.pdf; last accessed on 2 March 2016).

[31] Eduardo Abaya, A Critical Study on the Effect of Adoption on Citizenship Status in the Philippines, Philippine Law Journal, Vol. XXIII, No. 1, February 1948, p. 443 (http://plj.upd.edu.ph/wp­content/uploads/plj/PLJ%20volume%2023/PLJ%20volume%2023%20number%201/PLJ%20volume%2023%20number%201%20-04-%20Eduardo%20Abaya%20-%20A%20Critical%20Study%20on%20the%20effect%20of%20adoption%20on%20citizenship%20status%20in%20the%20Philippines.pdf; last accessed on 2 March 2016).

[32] http://www.icj-cij.org/documents/?p1=4&p2=2; last accessed on 2 March 2016.

[33] https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/conventional_international_law; last accessed on 2 March 2016.

[34] Pharmaceutical and Health Care Association of the Philippines v. Duque III, 561 Phil. 386 (2007).

[35] Dissenting Opinion, Bayan Muna v. Romulo, 656 Phil. 246, 326 (2011).

[36] Judgment of 20 February 1969, at 77 (http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/5l/556l.pdf; last accessed on 1 March 2016).

[37] Formation and Evidence of Customary International Law, International Law Commission, UFRGS Model United Nations Journal, p. 192 (http://www.ufrgs.br/ufrgsmun/2013/wp­-content/uploads/2013110/Formation-and-Evidence-of-Customary-Intemationai-Law.pdf; last accessed on 1 March 2016).

[38] John H. Currie, PUBLIC INTERNATIONAL LAW, Second Edition, 2008 (https://www.irwinlaw.com/cold/regional_customary_international_law; last accessed on 1 March 2016).

[39] See Malcolm N. Shaw, INTERNATIONAL LAW, Seventh Edition, 2014, pp. 69-77.

[40] Supra note 34, at 400, citing Louis Henkin, Richard C. Pugh, Oscar Schachter, Hans Smith, International Law, Cases and Materials, 2nd Ed., p. 96. Emphasis omitted.

[41] http://www.ohchr.org/en/professional/interestlpages/ccpr.aspx; last accessed on 2 March 2016.

[42] http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/; last accessed on 2 March 2016.

[43] http://www.ohchr.org/EN/UDHR/Pages/UDHRIndex.aspx; last accessed on 2 March 2016.

[44] Laura van Waas, Nationality Matters: Statelessness under International Law, pp. 69-70, Volume 29, School of Human Rights Research Series, Intersentia, 2008 (http://www.stichtingros.nl/site/kennis/files/Onderzoek%20statenloosheid%20Laura%20van%20Waas.pdf; last accessed on 2 March 2016).

[45] Section 1, Article IV of the 1935 Constitution reads in part:

Section 1. The following are citizens of the Philippines:

xxxx

(5) Those who are naturalized in accordance with law.

[46] Section 1, Article III of the 1973 Constitution reads in part:

Section 1. The following are citizens of the Philippines:

xxxx

(4) Those who are naturalized in accordance with law.

[47] Section 1, Article IV of the 1987 Constitution reads in part:

Section 1. The following are citizens of the Philippines:

xxxx

(4) Those who are naturalized in accordance with law.

[48] See Jaime S. Bautista, No customary international law automatically confers nationality to foundlings, The Manila Times Online (http://www.manilatimes.net/no-customary-intemational-law-automatically­confers-nationality-to-foundlings/221126; last accessed on 2 March 2016).

[49] See Irene R. Cortes and Raphael Perpetuo M. Lotilla, Nationality and International Law from the Philippine Perspective, Philippine Law Journal, Vol. 60, No. 1, Supplemental Issue, 1985, p. 16 (http://plj.upd.edu.ph/wp-contentluploads/plj/PLJ%20volume%2060/PLJ%20volume%2060%20supplemental%20issue/PLJ%20Volume%2060%20supplemental%20issue%20-01-%20Irene%20R.%20Cortez%20&%20Rapael%20Perpetuo%20M.%20Lotilla%20-%20Nationality%20and%20International%20Law.pdf; last accessed on 2 March 2016).

[50] Bayan Muna v. Romulo, 656 Phil. 246, 303 (2011).

[51] See Dean Ralph A. Sanniento, The Right to Nationality of Foundlings in International Law,
(http://attyralph.com/2015/12/03/foundlingsnationality/; last accessed on 1 March 2016).

[52] http://www.un.org/en/members/index.shtml, last accessed on 7 March 2016.

[53] Malcolm N. Shaw, INTERNATIONAL LAW, Seventh Edition, 2014, p. 56, citing De Visscher, Theory and Reality, p. 149. See also Hersch Lauterpacht, THE DEVELOPMENT OF INTERNATIONAL LAW, p. 368; Pitt Cobbett, LEADING CASES ON INTERNATIONAL LAW, 4th Edition, London, 1922, p. 5, and Michael Akehurst, Custom as a Source of International Law, British Yearbook of International Law, 1975, Vol. 47, pp. 22-3.

[54] Id.

[55] Petitioner's Memorandum, p. 174, citing Mijares v. Rañada (495 Phil. 372 [2005]) and Razon v. Tagitis (621 Phil. 536 [2009]).

[56] Laura van Waas, Nationality Matters: Statelessness under International Law, pp. 70-71, Volume 29, School of Human Rights Research Series, Intersentia, 2008 (http://www.stichtingros.nl/site/kennis/files/Onderzoek%20statenloosheid%20Laura%20van%20Waas.pdf; last accessed on 2 March 2016).

[57] Prof. Serena Forlati, Nationality as a Human Right, pp. 22-23, The Changing Role of Nationality in International Law, edited by Alessandra Annoni and Serena Forlati, Routledge Research International Law, 2015 Kindle Edition; emphasis supplied.

[58] http://eudo-citizenship.eu/databases/protection-against-statelessness?p=dataEUCIT&application=modesProtectionStatelessness&search=1&modeby=idmode&idmode=S02; last accessed on 2 March 2016.

These countries are:
1. Belgium
2. Bulgaria
3. Croatia
4. Finland
5. France
6. Germany
7. Hungary
8. Lithuania
9. Montenegro
10. Netherlands
11. Romania
12. Serbia
13. Sweden

[59] 656 Phil. 246, 306 (2011 ).

[60] https://www.unhcr.it/sites/53a16111Ob80eeaac7000002/assets/53a164ab0b80eeaac70001fe/preventing_and_reducing_statelessness.pdf; last accessed on 2 March 2016.

[61] http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Pages/Nationality.aspx; last accessed on 2 March 2016.

[62] See http://www.ijrcenter.org/thematic-research-guides/nationality-citizenship/; last accessed on 2 March 2016.

[63] http://eudo-citizenship.eu/Internationa1DB/docs/Explanatory%20report%20Convention%20avoidance%20statelessness%20in%20relation%20to%20State%20succession%20CETS%20200%20PDF.pdf; last accessed on 1 March 2016.

[64] See The Law Commission and the Scottish Law Commission, Private International Law, The Law of Domicile, p. 4 (http://www.scotlawcom.gov.uk/files/321217989/6557/repl07.pdf; last accessed on 3 March 2016). See also M.W. Jacobs, A Treatise on the Law of Domicil, 1887, p. 167 (http://famguardian.org/Publications/TreatOnLawOfDomicile/A_Treatise_on_the_Law_of_Domicil_Nation.pdf, citing Savigny, System, etc. § 359 (Guthrie's trans. p. 132), citing Linde, Lehrbuch, § 89; Felix, Droit Int. Priv. no. 28; Calvo, Manuel, § 198; Id. Dict. verb. Dom.; Westlake, Priv. Int. L. 1st ed. no. 35, rule 2; Id. 2d ed. § 236; Dicey, Dom. p. 69, rule 6; Foote, Priv. Int. Jur. p. 9; Wharton, Confl. of L. § 39, citing Heffter, pp. 108, 109, last accessed on 3 March 2016).

[65] John Bassett Moore, A DIGEST OF INTERNATIONAL LAW, Vol. III, 1906, p. 281 (http://www.unz.org/Pub/MooreJohn-1906v03:289; last accessed on 3 March 2016).

[66] Section 3, Article II of the 1935 Constitution provides:

The Philippines renounces war as an instrument of national policy, and adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as a part of the law of the Nation.

[67] Section 3, Article II of the 1973 Constitution provides:

The Philippines renounces war as an instrument of national policy, adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land, and adheres to the policy of peace, equality, justice, freedom, cooperation, and amity with all nations.

[68] Section 2, Article II of the 1987 Constitution provides:

The Philippines renounces war as an instrument of national policy, adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land and adheres to the policy of peace, equality, justice, freedom, cooperation, and amity with all nations.

[69] Pharmaceutical and Health Care Association of the Philippines v. Duque III, supra note 34, citing Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J., CONSTITUTIONAL STRUCTURE AND POWERS OF GOVERNMENT (NOTES AND CASES), Part I (2005).

[70] Id.

[71] Id.

[72] Secretary of Justice v. Lantion, 379 Phil. 165 (2000).

[73] Joaquin Bernas, S.J., THE INTENT or THE 1986 CoNSTITUTION WRITERS, 1995, pp. 75-76.

[74] See Irene R. Cortes and Raphael Perpetuo M. Lotilla, Nationality and International Law from the Philippine Perspective, Philippine Law Journal, Vol. 60, No. 1, Supplemental Issue, 1985, p. 1. (http://plj.upd.edu.ph/wp-content/uploads/plj/PLJ%20volume%2060/PLJ%20volume%2060%20supplemental%20issue/PLJ%20Volume%2060%20supplemental%20issue%20-01-%20Irene%20R.%20Cortez%20&%20Rapael%20Perpetuo%20M.%20Lotilla%20-%20Nationality%20and%20Intemational%20Law.pdf; last accessed on 2 March 2016).

[75] See Jaime S. Bautista, No customary international law automatically confers nationality to foundlings, The Manila Times, 28 September 2015 (http://www.manilatimes.net/no-customary-international-law­automatically-confers-nationality-to-foundlings/221126/, last accessed on 2 March 2016). See also Joel Ruiz Butuyan, Legal and emotional entanglements in Poe issue, 6 October 2015, Philippine Daily Inquirer (http://opinion.inquirer.net/89141/legal-and-emotional-entanglements-in-poe-issue, last accessed on 2 March 2016).

[76] An Act to Provide for the Acquisition of Philippine Citizenship by Naturalization, and to Repeal Acts Numbered Twenty-Nine Hundred and Twenty-Seven and Thirty-Four Hundred and Forty-Eight.

[77] An Act Providing for the Acquisition of Philippine Citizenship for Certain Aliens by Administrative Naturalization and for Other Purposes.

[78] See Francis Wharton, LL.D., A DIGEST OF THE INTERNATIONAL LAw oF THE UNITED STATES, Vol. II, 1886, p. 465, § 192 (Mr. Fish, Secretary of State, to Mr. Davis, January 14, 1875, MSS. Inst., Germ. XVI 6). See also Paul Weis, NATIONALITY AND STATELESSNESS IN INTERNATIONAL LAW, Second Edition, 1979, p. 228 (https://books.google.com.ph/books?id=hSLGDXqXeegC&printsec=frontcover&dq=paul+weis+nationality&hl=en&sa=X&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=paul%20weis%20nationality&f=false; last accessed on 2 March 2016).

[79] Philippine Passport No. F927287.

[80] Philippine Passport No. L881511.

[81] Philippine Passport No. DO156616.

[82] Philippine Passport No. XX4731999.

[83] Philippine Passport No. DE0004530.

[84] Philippine Passport No. EC0588861.

[85] Civil Registry Law, 27 February 1931.

[86] See Rules 26-30, IRR of Act No. 3753 and Other Laws on Civil Registration, 18 December 1992.

[87] TSN, 16 February 2016, pp. 152-157.

[88] Section 2 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations pertinently reads:

SECTION 2. Applicability. These Rules shall apply to the adoption in the Philippines of a Filipino child by a Filipino or alien qualified to adopt under Article III, Section 7 of RA 8552.

x x x x

[89] 602 Phil. 522, 537 (2009).

[90] 247 Phil. 154, 162 (1988). Citations omitted.

[91] 257 Phil. 23, 29 (1989).

[92] TSN, 2 February 2016, pp. 135-141.

[93] 117 Phil. 976 (1963).

[94] 161 Phil. 397 (1976).

[95] Supra note 93, at 978.

[96] Supra note 94, at 407.

[97] Carpio, J., Dissenting Opinion, Tecson v. Comelec, 468 Phil. 421, 634 (2004).

[98] 128 Phil. 815 (1967).

[99] Id. at 825.

[100] G.R. No. 167569, 4 September 2009, 598 SCRA 266.

[101] Fernandez v. HRET, 623 Phil. 628 (2009).

[102] See Reyes v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 207264, 25 June 2013, 699 SCRA 522.

[103] Tijing v. Court of Appeals, 406 Phil. 449 (2001).

[104] In Tijing v. Court of Appeals, 406 Phil. 449 (2001), the Court held that to establish parentage, the DNA from the mother, alleged father and child are analyzed since the DNA of a child, which has two copies, will have one copy from the mother and another copy from the father.

[105] See People v. Vallejo, 431 Phil. 798 (2002).

[106] Dated 2 October 2007.

[107] Section 3(f) of the Rule on DNA Evidence defines "Probability of Parentage" as the numerical estimate for the likelihood of parentage of a putative parent compared with the probability of a random match of two unrelated individuals in a given population.

[108] See Joel Ruiz Butuyan, Legal and emotional entanglements in Poe issue, 6 October 2015, Philippine Daily Inquirer (http://opinion.inquirer.net/89141/legal-and-emotional-entanglements-in-poe-issue; last accessed on 2 March 2016).

[109] See Kilosbayan Foundation v. Ermita, 553 Phil. 331, 343-344 (2007), where the Court stated in the dispositive portion of the Decision that "respondent Gregory S. Ong x x x is hereby ENJOINED from accepting an appointment to the position of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court or assuming the position and discharging the functions of that office, until he shall have successfully completed all necessary steps, through the appropriate adversarial proceedings in court, to show that he is a natural­ born Filipino citizen and correct the records of his birth and citizenship."

[110] 148-B Phil. 773, 855 (1971).

[111] 149 Phil. 661, 665 (1971).

[112] Supra note 100, at 288, 290-291.

[113] Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003.

[114] The oath of allegiance to the United States that naturalized Am ricans take states:
I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that Iwill bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that Iwill perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the Jaw; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.
(https://www.uscis.gov/us-citizenship/naturalization-test/naturalization-oath-allegiance-united-states­america; last accessed on 7 March 2016). Emphasis supplied.

[115] 409 Phil. 633 (2001).



CONCURRING OPINION

VELASCO, JR., J.:


I concur with the ponencia and will add the following only for emphasis.

On Residency

It is established that to acquire a new domicile one must demonstrate three things: (1) residence or bodily presence in the new locality; (2) an intention to remain there (animus manendi); and (3) an intention to abandon the old domicile (animus non revertendi).

There is no issue as to Sen. Poe's actual bodily presence in the Philippines since May 24, 2005, whence she, per her 2015 Certificate of Candidacy, reckons her residency in the country. What has been questioned is the animus to stay in the Philippins and to abandon the domicile in the United States of America (US) since then. As the ponencia explained, the facts recited, and the evidence presented by Sen. Poe sufficiently portrays her intent to stay in the Philippines and to abandon the US since May 2005, to wit:
35.  As a result of the untimely demise of her father, and her desire to be with and to comfort her grieving mother, Petitioner and her husband, sometime in the first quarter of 2005, decided to return to the Philippines for good. They consulted their children, who likewise expressed their wish to relocate permanently to the Philippines. The children also wanted to support their grandmother and Petitioner.

36.  In 2004, petitioner had already resigned from her work in the U.S.A. and she never again sought employment there. In early 2005 Brian (Poe's son) and Hanna's (Poe's eldest daughter) schools in Virginia, U.S.A., were likewise notified that they would be transferring to Philippine schools for the next semester.

37.  As early as March 2005, Petitioner and her husband began obtaining quotations and estimates from property movers regarding the total cost of relocating to Manila all of their household goods, furniture, and cars then in Virginia, U.S.A. One of these property movers was Victory Van International, a private freight forwarding company, with whom Petitioner and her husband had a series of email correspondence from 2005 to 2006. The spouses also intended to bring along their pet dog and they inquired with Philippine authorities on the procedure to accomplish this in August 2005.

38.  On 24 May 2005, or shortly before the start ofthe academic year in the Philippines, Petitioner returned to the country. Her three (3) children also arrived in the country in the first half of 2005. Petitioner's husband, on the other hand, stayed in the U.S.A. to finish pending projects, and to arrange for the sale of the family home there.

39.  After their arrival in the Philippines from the U.S.A., Petitioner and her children initially lived with Petitioner's mother in x x x San Juan City. The existing living arrangements at the house of Petitioner's mother even had to be modified to accommodate Petitioner and her children, Petitioner's mother also assigned to Petitioner her father's long-time driver, because Petitioner and her family would henceforth be based in the Philippines. Meanwhile, Petitioner and her children prepared for the start of the school year, with Brian and Hanna attending Philippine schools starting June 2005. x x x

40.  Shortly after arriving in the Philippines, Petitioner immediately submitted hers lf to the local tax jurisdiction by registering and securing a TIN from the BIR.

x x x x

42.  In the meantime, in the second half of 2005, Petitioner and her husband had acquired Unit 7F of One Wilson Place Condominium (and its corresponding parking slot), located at x x x San Juan, Metro Manila, to be used as the family's temporary residence.
42.1 On 20 February 2006, the Register of Deeds for San Juan City issued to Petitioner and her husband CCT No. x x x covering Unit 7F of One Wilson Place, and CCT No. x x x covering the parking slot for Unit 7F.

42.2 On 25 April 2006, Unit 7F of One Wilson Place and its corresponding parking slot were declared, for real estate tax purposes, in Petitioner's and her husband's names.

42.3 Petitioner and her family lived at One Wilson Place until the completion of their family home at Corinthian Hills, Quezon City. x x x
43. On 14 February 2006, Petitioner briefly travelled to the U.S.A. for the purpose of supervising the disposal of some of the family's remaining household belongings. Around this time, Petitioner's and her family's furniture and other household goods were still in the process of being packed for collection, storage and eventual transport to the Philippines. Petitioner donated to the Salvation Army some of the family's personal properties which could no longer be shipped to the Philippines. Petitioner returned to the Philippines shortly after, or on 11 March 2006.

44.  In late March 2006, petitioner's husband officially informed the United States Postal Service of the family's change, and abandonment, of their former address in the U.S.A. The family home in the U.S.A. was eventually sold on 27 April 2006.

45.  In April 2006, Petitioner's husband resigned from his work in the U.S.A., and on 4 May 2006, he returned to the Philippines. Beginning July 2006, he worked in the Philippines for a major Philippine company.

46. Meanwhile, in early 2006, Petitioner and her husband acquired a vacant 509-square meter lot at x x x Corinthian Hills, Bagong Ugong Norte, Quezon City (the "Corinthian Hills Lot") where her family could finally establish their new family home.

46.1  On 1 June 2006, the Register of Deeds for Quezon City issued to Petitioner and her husband Transfer Certificate of Title ("TCT") No. 290260 covering the Corinthian Hills Lot.

46.2 Petitioner and her husband eventually built a house on the Corinthian Hills Lot. To this day, this house is their family home.

47. After Petitioner and her family settled themselves, she turned her attention to regaining her natural-born Filipino citizenship. She was advised that she could legally reacquire her natural-born Philippine citizenship by taking an oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines, pursuant to the provision of R.A. No. 9225, otherwise known as the "Citizenship Retention and Re-Acquisition Act of 2003."

48. On July 7, 2006, Petitioner took her Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines, as required under Section 3 of R.A. No. 9225, to wit: x x x 

49. On 10 July 2006, petitioner filed with the B.I. a sworn petition to reacquire her natural-born Philippine citizenship pursuant to R.A. No. 9225 and its implementing rules and regulations. Upon advice, and simultaneous with her own petition, petitioner filed petitions for derivative citizenship on behalf of her three children who were all below eighteen (18) years of age at that time. x x x

50. On 18 July 2006, the B.I. issued an Order granting Petitioner's applications x x x.

51. On 31 July 2006, the B.L issued Identification Certificates ("I.C.") in Petitioner's name and in the name of her three children x x x.

52. On 31 August 2006, the COMELEC registered Petitioner as a voter at Barangay Santa Lucia, San Juan City.

53.  On 13 October 2009, or over two (2) years before her U.S.A. Passport was set to expire (on 18 December 2011), Petitioner secured from the DFA her new Philippine Passport with No. x x x (which was valid until 12 October 2014).

54.  On 6 October 2010, President Benigno S. Aquino III appointed Petitioner as Chairperson of the MTRCB, a post which requires natural-born Philippine citizenship. Petitioner did not accept the appointment immediately, because she was advised that before assuming any appointive public office, Section 5(3), R.A. No. 9225 required her to: (a) take an Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines; and (b) renounce her U.S.A. citizenship. She complied with the requirements before assuming her posts as MTRCB Chairperson on 26 October 2010.

55.  On 20 October 2010, Petitioner executed before a notary public in Pasig City an "Affidavit of Renunciation of Allegiance to the United States of America and Renunciation of American Citizenship" of even date. x x x

56.  On 21 October 2010, in accordance with Presidential Decree No. 1986 and Section 5 (3) of R.A. No. 9225, Petitioner took her oath of office as Chairperson of the MTRCB, before President Benigno S. Aquino III. x x x

57.  To ensure that even under the laws of the U.S.A., she would no longer be considered its citizen, Petitioner likewise renounced her U.S.A. citizenship in accordance with the laws of that country. However, Petitioner was not legally required under Philippine law to make another renunciation, as her earlier renunciation of U.S.A. citizenship on October 20, 2010 was sufficient to qualify her for public office.

57.1  On 12 July 2011, Petitioner executed before the Vice Consul at the U.S.A. Embassy in Manila, an Oath/Affirmation of Renunciation ofNationality ofthe United States.

57.2. On the same day, Petitioner accomplished a sworn "Questionnaire" before the U.S. Vice Consul, wherein she stated that she had taken her oath as MTRCB Chairperson on 21 October 2010, with the intent, among others, of relinquishing her U.S.A. citizenship.

57.3 In the same Questionnaire, Petitioner stated that she had resided "Outside of the United States," i.e., in the "Philippines," from 3 September 1968 to 29 July 1991 and from "05 2005" to "Present.": On page 4 of the Questionnaire, Petitioner stated:
I became a resident of the Philippine once again since 2005. My mother still resides in the Philippines. My husband and I are both employed and own roperties in the Philippines. As a dual citizen (Filipino-American) since 2006, I've voted in two Philippine national elections. My three children study and reside in the Philippines at the time I performed the act as described in Part I item 6.
58.  On 9 December 2011, the U.S.A. Vice Consul issued to petitioner a "Certificate of Loss of Nationality of the United States." Said Certificate attests that under U.S.A. laws, Petitioner lost her U.S.A. citizenship effective 21 October 2010, which is when she took her oath of office as MTRCB Chairperson. This fact is likewise reflected on the last page ofPetit oner:s former U.S.A. Passport.

59.  On 27 September 2012, Petitioner accomplished her COC for Senator, which she filed with the COMELEC on 2 October 2012. Section 12 of the COC was, agam, an affirmation of the Oath of

Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines which Petitioner had taken on 7 July 2006 (and which she had reaffirmed on 2.1 October 2010 when she took her oath of office as MTRCB Chairperson). x x x

60.  During the 13 May 2013 National Elections, petitioner ran for and was overwhelmingly elected as Senator. She garnered over 20 million votes, the highest among her fellow Senatorial candidates, and a record in Philippine election history. On 16 May 2013, Petitioner was proclaimed Senator of the Republic of the Philippines.

61.  On 19 December 2013, the DFA issued to Sen. Poe Diplomatic Passport No. x x x (valid until December 2018), and on 18 March 2014, the DFA issued in her favor Philippine Passport No. x x x. Like her earlier Philippine passports, these two (2) most recent passports uniformly state that Sen. Poe is a "citizen of the Philippines."

62.  On 15 October 2015, Sen. Poe filed with COMELEC her COC as President ("COC for President") in the 9 May 2016 national and local elections. In her COC, she stated that she is a "NATURAL-BORN FILIPINO CITIZEN" and that her "RESIDENCE IN THE PHILIPPINES UP TO THE DAY BEFORE MAY 09, 2016" would be "10" years and "11" months (counted from 24 May 2005).
As "intent" is basically a "state of mind" that exists only in idea;[1] its existence can only be determined by the overt acts that translate it to fact. The realization of such intent need not be made in one fell swoop by the execution of a single formal act. Rather, the fulfillment of the intent to change domicile can be made via a series of steps through what the Court adverts in Mitra v. COMELEC[2] and Sabili v. COMELEC[3] as an "incremental process" or the execution of"incremental transfer moves."

The facts of the case suggest that Sen. Poe's change of domicile and repatriation from the US to the Philippines was, to borrow from Mitra, "accomplished, not in a single key move but, through an incremental process"[4] that started in early 2005. Specifically, Sen Poe took definite albeit incremental moves to reacquire her domicile of origin as shown by the repatriation of her children and their pet, if I may add, from the US to the Philippines; the enrollment of her children in Philippine schools; the sale of their family home in the US; the repatriation of her husband and his employment in the Philippines; the transfer of their household goods, furniture, cars and personal belongings from the US to the Philippines; the purchase of a residential condominium in the Philippines; the purchase of a residential lot; the construction of her family home in the country; her oath of allegiance under RA 9225; her children's acquisition of derivative Philippine citizenship; the renunciation of her US citizenship; her service as chairperson of the MTRCB; and her candidacy and service as a senator of the Philippines. All these acts are indicative of the intent to stay and serve in the country permanently, and not simply to make a "temporary" sojourn.

Indeed, the foreknowledge of Sen. Poe's repatriation and her desire for it, i.e., her intent to go back to and reestablish her domicile the Philippines, is readily discernible from her acts executed even before her return to the country in May 2005.

The foregoing indicia of Sen. Poe's intent to reestablish her domicile in the country cannot be frivolously dismissed as insufficient on the pretext that "this case involves relocation of national domicile from the US to the Philippines by an alien, which requires much stronger proof, both as to fact and intent."[5]

The suggestion that Sen. Poe's animus manendi only existed at the time she took her oath of allegiance under RA 9225 in July 2006 and that her animus non revertendi existed only in October 2010 when she renounced her US citizen is simply illogical. The fact that what is involved is a change of national domicile from one country to another, separated as it were by oceans, and not merely from one neighboring municipality to another like in Mitra and Sabili, it is with more reason that the teachings in Mitra and Sabili are applicable.

It should be of judicial cognizance that even a temporary travel from one country to another is no easy feat. It takes weeks or even months to plan and execute. By no means is the permanent transfer of residence in one country to another an easier undertaking. Like in petitioner's case, it would be a long process that will take months, if not years, to accomplish from the initial inquiry with the movers and the concerned government agencies in both countries, to the actual packing and transportation of one's belongings, the travel of the children and the pet,. their enrollment in schools, the acquisition of a new family home, and the reintegration to Philippine society. The intent to reestablish national domicile cannot be plausibly determined by one isolated formal act or event but by a series of acts that reveal the preceding desire and intent to return to one's country of origin.

Sen. Poe is not an ordinary "alien" trying to establish her domicile in a "foreign country." She was born and raised in the Philippines, who went through the tedious motions of, and succeeded in, reestablishing her home in the country. She is, by no means, foreign to the Philippines nor its people. She maintained close ties to the country and has frequently visited it even during the time she was still recognized as a US citizen. Her parents lived in the country, her friends she grew up with stayed here. In a manner of speaking, her past, her roots were in the Philippines so that it should not be rendered more burdensome for her to establish her future in the country.

After all, the residence requirement was in context intended to prevent a stranger from holding office on the assumption that she would be insufficiently acquainted with the conditions and needs of her prospective constituents.[6] Having helped her father during his presidential campaign and having served as a senator and before that an MTRCB chairperson, it cannot be contested that she has more than enough knowledge of the country, its people, and the many issues and problems that beset them. The mischief that the residency requirement was designed to prevent is clearly not present in this case.

The Court's pronouncements in Coquilla v. Commission on Elections,[7] Caballero v. Commission on Elections[8] and Japzon v. Commission and Elections and Jaime S. Ty[9] did not establish an absolute rule that a Filipino who became naturalized under the laws of a foreign country can only re-establish his or her domicile in the Philippines from the moment he or she swears allegiance to the country under RA 9225. Instead, the Court considered the acquisition of dual-citizenship under RA 9225 or the application for a residency permit as one of many possible, not the only, evidence of animus manendi. The Court did not state that any evidence of residence before the acquisition of a residence visa or the reacquisition of citizenship must be ignored.

Unfortunately, in these three cases, the concerned candidates had presented negligible or no evidence of reestablishment of domicile in the Philippines before their repatriation. As Sen. Poe pointed out, the only pieces of evidence in Coquilla showing that he might had had the intent to reside in the Philippines were: (a) his Community Tax Certificate; and (b) his verbal declarations that he intended to run for office. In Japzon, there was absolutely no evidence of the candidate's residence before he reacquired his citizenship and all the evidence pertained to events after his repatriation. Finally, in Caballero, the candidate failed to show that his residence had been for more than a year prior to the May 2013 elections. On the contrary, he admitted that he had only 9 months "actual stay" in Uyugan, Batanes.

Thus, the Court had no choice but to reckon the residency of the concerned candidates in Coquilla, Jopzon, and Caballero either from the time they reacquired their citizenship or the time they procured a resident visa because there was simply insufficient proof offered by the candidates before such event. The same cannot be said of Sen. Poe in the instant case.

As previously discussed, Sen. Poe presented overwhelming evidence of her permanent relocation to the Philippines, her actual residence, and intent to stay in the Philippines since May 2005, i.e., even before she took her oath of allegiance under RA 9225 in July 2006. Hence, Jalosjos v. Commission on Elections[10] is the better precedent. In Jalosjos, the Court reckoned the candidate's domicile in the Philippines even before he reacquired his citizenship under RA 9225, without mentioning the need for a residence visa, because he was able to satisfactorily prove that he had lived with his brother prior to taking his oath of allegiance. The Court held, thus:
But it is clear from the facts that Quezon City was Jalosjos' domicile of origin, the place of his birth. It may be taken for granted that he effectively changed his domicile from Quezon City to Australia when he migrated there at the age of eight, acquired Australian citizenship, and lived in that country for 26 years. Australia became his domicile by operation of law and by choice.

On the other hand, when he came to the Philippines in November 2008 to live with his brother in Zamboanga Sibugay, it is evident that Jalosjos did so with intent to change his domicile for good. He left Australia, gave up his Australian citizenship, and renounced his allegiance to that country. In addition, he reacquired his old citizenship by taking an oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines, resulting in his being issued a Certificate of Reacquisition of Philippine Citizenship by the Bureau of Immigration. By his acts, Jalosjos forfeited his legal right to live in Australia, clearly proving that he gave up his domicile there. And he has since lived nowhere else except in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay.

To hold that Jalosjos has not establish a new domicile in Zamboanga Sibugay despite the loss of his domicile of origin (Quezon City) and his domicile of choice and by operation of law (Australia) would violate the settled maxim that a man must have a domicile or residence somewhere.[11]
Yet, it has also been advanced that Sen. Poe has not positively shown an intent to abandon the US, or animus non revertendi, prior to her formal renunciation of her American citizenship in October 2010. To this is added that she even acquired a house in the US in 2008 as proof of her alleged intent not to abandon that country. Proponents of this argument cite Reyes v. Commission on Elections.[12] However, Reyes was on a starkly different factual milieu. Unlike Sen. Poe, the petitioner therein had not reacquired her Philippine citizenship under RA 9225 or renounced her American citizenship.[13] In fact, the only proof she offered of her residency was her service as a provincial officer for seven (7) months.

The alleged fact that Sen. Poe acquired a house in the US in 2008, cannot be taken as an argument against her animus non revertendi vis-a-vis the evidence of her manifest intent to stay, and actual stay, in the Philippines. Certainly, the element of intent to abandon an old domicile does not require a complete and absolute severance of all physical links to that country, or any other country for that matter. It is simply too archaic to state, at a time where air travel is the norm, that ownership of a secondary abode for a temporary visit or holiday negates an intent to abandon a foreign country as a legal domicile.

On Citizenship

There is no question that Sen. Poe has no known biological parents and was found on September 3, 1968 in Jaro, Iloilo when she was but a newborn. She was then adopted by spouses Ronald Allan Kelly and Jesusa Sonora Poe in May 1974. The nagging question is: Is Sen. Poe a natural­ born Filipino citizen?

Article IV, Section 1 of the 1935 Constitution merely provides:
Section 1. 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.
  2. Those born in the Philippine 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.
The term "natural-born" Filipino does not even appear in the above­ quoted provision. This Court, however, has construed the term to refer to those falling under items one to four of the section, as opposed to those who underwent naturalization under item number 5. But Sen. Poe was not born before the adoption of the 1935 Constitution so that the first item is inapplicable. That being said, her status as a foundling does not foreclose the likelihood that either or both of her biological parents were Filipinos rendering her a natural-born Filipino under items 3 and/or 4 of Section 1, Article IV ofthe 1935 Constitution.

Indeed, while it is not denied that Sen. Poe was abandoned by her biological parents, her abandonment on the date and specific place above indicated does not obliterate the fact that she had biological parents and the private respondents had not shown any proof that they were not Filipino citizens.

Section 1, Rule 131 of the Rules of Court provides that the burden of proof is the duty of a party to prove the truth of his claim or defense, or any fact in issue by the amount of evidence required by law. The private respondents had not presented even an iota of proof to show that Sen. Poe was not born to Filipino parents. Thus, it was grave abuse of discretion for the COMELEC to conclude that Sen. Poe was not a natural-born Filipino and had deliberately misrepresented such fact.

To shift the burden of proof to foundlings like, Sen. Poe, to prove the citizenship of their parents who had abandoned them is as preposterous as rubbing salt on an open bleeding wound; it adds insult to injury. The State cannot allow such unconscionable interpretation of our laws. Instead, the judiciary, as the instrumentality of the State in its role of parens patriae, must ensure that the abandoned children, the foundlings, those who were forced into an unfavorable position are duly protected.

As pointed out by petitioner, the same view was shared by the framers of the 1935 Constitution. A delegate to the 1934 Constitutional Convention, Sr. Nicolas Rafols, proposed to explicitly include "children of unknown parentage" in the enumeration of jus sanguinis Philippine Citizens in Section 1, Article IV of the 1935 Constitution. The suggestion, however, was not accepted but not on the ground that these children are not Philippine citizens. Rather, that the cases of foundlings are "few and far in between," as pointed out by delegate Manuel Roxas, and that citing a similar Spanish Law, they are already presumed to have been born to Filipinos.[14]

An alternative construction of the 1935, not to say the present Constitution, presents dire consequences. In such a scenario, abandoned children with no known parents will be considered stateless. This violates the rights of a child to immediate registration and nationality after birth, as recognized in the United Nation's Convention on the Rights of a Child. Thus, I cannot subscribe to the proposal that foundlings, like Sen. Poe, are not natural-born Filipino citizens.


[1] Black's Law Dictionary, 9th Ed., for the iPhone/iPad/iPod touch. Version 2.1.2 (B13195), p. 883 citing John Salmond, Jurisprudence 378 (Glanville L. Williams ed., 10th ed. 1947).

[2] G.R. No. 191938, July 2, 2010 and October 19,2010.

[3] G.R. No. 193261, April 24, 2012.

[4] Mitra, supra.

[5] Justice Del Castillo's Opinion.

[6] Gallego v. Vera, 73 Phil. 453, 459 ( 1941 ); cited in Fernandez v. HRET, G.R. No. 187478, December 21, 2009.

[7] G.R. No. 151914, July 31,2002.385 SCRA 607.

[8] G.R. No. 209835, September 22, 2015.

[9] G.R. No. 180088, January 19, 2009, 596 SCRA 354.

[10] G.R. No. 191970, April24, 2012.

[11] Emphasis supplied.

[12] G.R. No. 207264, June 25,2013,699 SCRA 522.

[13] Regina 0. Reyes- admitted in her submissions under oath before the COMELEC in SPA 13-053 that RA 9225 does not apply to her as she claims to be a dual citizen of the United States of America and the Philippines by virtue of her marriage to a US citizen. Belatedly, Reyes attempted to show that she availed of RA 9225, in a volte face, before the Court in G.R. No. 207264, entitled Reyes v. COMELEC, by presenting a questionable Identification Certificate allegedly issued by the Bureau of Immigration.

[14] Per the interpellation of Delegate Ruperto Montinola.



SEPARATE DISSENTING OPINION

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:

I begin this Dissenting Opinion by outrightly expressing my view that the opinion of Honorable Justice Jose P. Perez on the issue of natural-born citizenship which was joined by six (6) other Justices including the Honorable Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes P.A. Sereno, if not overturned, will wreak havoc on our constitutional 'system of government.

By their opinion, the seven (7) Justices would amend the 1935 Constitution which was in effect when petitioner was born, to add "foundlings found in the Philippines whose parents are unknown" in the enumeration of natural-born citizen, as follows:
ARTICLE IV
CITIZENSHIP
(1935 Constitution)

Section 1. 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.

(2) Those born in the Philippine 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 [and foundlings found in the Philippines whose parents are unknown].

(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 the law. (Emphases supplied.)
This amendment of the Constitution by the judicial opinion put forth by the seven (7) Justices is based mainly on extralegal grounds and a misreading of existing laws, which will have unimaginable grave and far­ reaching dire consequences in our constitutional and legal system and national interest which this Dissenting Opinion will explain below.

For the above reason and other reasons, I dissent to the Ponencia of Mr. Justice Jose P. Perez that the four consolidated petitions seeking the annulment and setting aside of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) December 1, 2015 and December 23, 2015 Resolutions in SPA Nos. 15-001 (DC); and, the December 11, 2015 and December 23, 2015 Resolutions in 15-002 (DC), 15-007 (DC), and 15-139 (DC) should be granted.

It is my humble submission that petitioner Senator Mary Grace Natividad S. Poe-Llamanzares (Poe for brevity) failed to show that the COMELEC En banc gravely abused its discretion in affirming its Second Division's December 1, 2015 and its First Division's December 11, 2015 Resolutions, both denying due course to and/or cancelling her Certificate of Candidacy (COC) for the position of President of the Republic of the Philippines, particularly with respect to the finding that she made therein material representations that were false relating to her natural-born citizenship and ten-year period of residence in the Philippines that warrant the cancellation ofher COC.

In gist, the bases for my dissent in the disposition of the cases, which will be discussed in seriatim, are as follows - contrary to the findings in the Ponencia:

On the Procedural/Technical Issues
  1. The review power of this Court relative to the present petitions filed under Rule 64 vis-a-vis Rule 65 both of the Rules of Court, as amended, is limited to the jurisdictional issue of whether or not the COMELEC acted without or in excess of its jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction;

  2. Petitioner Poe failed to satisfactorily show that the COMELEC was so grossly unreasonable in its appreciation and evaluation of the pieces of evidence submitted by the parties as to transgress the limits of its jurisdiction;

  3. All the four petitions filed, inclusive of the Tatad Petition, subject of the assailed resolutions of the COMELEC, adduced ultimate facts establishing the cause of action for a petition based on Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code (OEC);

  4. The COMELEC correctly considered the allegations contained in the Tatad Petition as one filed under Section 78 of the OEC;

  5. The COMELEC did not encroach upon the jurisdiction of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal when it took cognizance of the petitions to deny due course to or cancel the COC of petitioner Poe; the distinction between jurisdictions of the two tribunals has already been settled in Tecson v. COMELEC, the jurisdiction of the PET can only be invoked after the election and proclamation of a President or Vice President and the question of qualifications of candidates for President or Vice-President properly belongs to the COMELEC;

  6. Section 8, Rule 23 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure is a valid exercise of the rule-making powers of the COMELEC, which is not inconsistent and can be harmonized with its constitutional mandate to promulgate rules of procedure to expedite the dispositions of election cases;

  7. The COMELEC has the power to determine petitioner Poe's citizenship notwithstanding the decision of the Senate Electoral Tribunal which is still pending appeal and which deals with different issues; and
On the Substantive/Focal Issues
  1. Sections 1 and 2, Article IV of the 1987 Constitution clearly and categorically define who are natural-born citizens: they are citizens from birth with blood relationship to a Filipino father or mother, following the "jus sanguinis" principle;

  2. Salient Rules of Interpretation and/or Construction of the Constitution dictate that the clear and unambiguous letter of the Constitution must be obeyed;

  3. Statutes, Treaties and International Covenants or Instruments must conform to the provisions of the Constitution;

  4. Pursuant to the Constitution, natural-born citizenship is an indispensable requirement for eligibility to constitutionally identified elective positions like the Presidency;

  5. Republic Act No. 9225, otherwise known as the "Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003," makes natural-born citizenship an indispensable requirement for the retention and/or re-acquisition of Philippine citizenship; in other words, the right to avail of dual citizenship is only available to natural-born citizens who have earlier lost their Philippine citizenship by reason of acquisition of foreign citizenship;

  6. Petitioner Poe obtained dual citizenship under Republic Act No. 9225 by misrepresenting tCJ the Bureau of Immigration that she is the biological child of a Filipino father and Filipino mother such that the Bureau was misled into believing that "[petitioner Poe] was a former citizen of the Republic of the Philippines being born to Filipino parents," which is a false factual averment not an erroneous legal conclusion; and (it) the said order was not signed by the Commissioner of the BI as required by Department of Justice (DOJ) Regulation;

  7. As a consequence of petitioner Poe's above-stated misrepresentations, the July 18, 2006 Order of the Bureau of Immigration granting petitioner Poe's application for dual citizenship or the re-acquisition of Philippine citizenship was clearly invalid and her taking of an oath of allegiance to the Republic did not result in her re-acquisition of Philippine citizenship; and

  8. Not having validly reacquired natural-born citizenship, she is not eligible to run for the Presidency pursuant to Section 2, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution; and even assuming arguendo that she has re-acquired natural-born citizenship under Republic Act No. 9225, petitioner Poe has failed to establish her change of domicile from the United States, her domicile of choice to the Philippines through clear and unmistakable evidence.
The Procedural Issues

Petitioner Poe seeks the annulment of the December 1, 2015 Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division and December 23, 2015 Resolution ofthe COMELEC En banc, in SPA Nos. 15-001 (DC); and the December 11, 2015 Resolution of the COMELEC First Division and December 23,2015 Resolution of the COMELEC En banc, in SPA Nos. 15-002 (DC), 15-007 (DC) and 15-139 (DC) via the instant consolidated petitions for certiorari under Rule 64, in relation to Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.[1] This mode of review is based on the limited ground of whether the COMELEC acted without or in excess of jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. The Court held in Jalover v. Osmeña[2] that:
"Grave abuse of discretion" defies exact definition; generally, it refers to "capricious or whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction;" the abuse of discretion must be patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law, or to act at all in contemplation of law, as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary and despotic manner by reason of passion and hostility. Mere abuse of discretion is not enough; it must be grave. We have held, too, that the use of wrong or irrelevant considerations in deciding an issue is sufficient to taint a decisionwmaker's action with grave abuse of discretion.

Closely related with the limited focus of the present petition is the condition, under Section 5, Rule 64 of the Rules of Court, that findings of fact of the COMELEC, supported by substantial evidence, shall be final and non-reviewable. Substantial evidence is that degree of evidence that a reasonable mind might accept to support a conclusion. In light of our limited authority to review findings of fact, we do not ordinarily review in a certiorari case the COMELEC's appreciation and evaluation of evidence. Any misstep by the COMELEC in this regard generally involves an error of judgment, not of jurisdiction.

In exceptional cases, however, when the COMELEC's action on the appreciation and evaluation of evidence oversteps the limits of its discretion to the point of being grossly unreasonable, the Court is not only obliged, but has the constitutional duty to intervene. When grave abuse of discretion is present, resulting errors arising from the grave abuse mutate from error of judgment to one of jurisdiction. (Citations omitted.)
The COMELEC's appreciation and evaluation of the evidence adduced by petitioner Poe is said to be tainted with grave abuse of discretion.

Petitioner Poe failed to hurdle the bar set by this Court in Mitra v. Commission on Elections[3] and Sabili v. Commission on Elections,[4] which is to prove that the COMELEC was so grossly unreasonable in its appreciation and evaluation of evidence as to amount to an error of jurisdiction. Petitioner

Poe's insistence that the COMELEC utterly disregarded her "overwhelming and unrefuted evidence" is baseless. As stated in Mitra, substantial evidence is not a simple question of number. The emphasis must be on what the pieces of evidence are able to substantiate and what they cannot. I find that the COMELEC's assessment of the evidence is logical and well-founded. The conclusions it reached are adequately supported by evidence and are well in accord with the applicable laws and settled jurisprudence on the matter.

The petitions filed by respondents Elamparo, Contreras, and Valdez sufficiently alleged the ultimate facts constituting the cause(s) of action for a petition under Section 78 of the OEC, that petitioner Poe falsely represented in her COC that she is a natural-born Filipino citizen and that she complied with the ten-year residency requirement. Also, they averred that such false representations were made with intent to deceive the electorate.

With respect to the petition of private respondent Tatad, the COMELEC properly relied on the allegation of said petition instead of its caption as a petition for disqualification under Rule 25 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure. Clearly, private respondent Tatad squarely put in issue the truthfulness of the declarations of petitioner Poe in her COC. Specifically, he alleged that petitioner Poe lacked natural-born citizenship and failed to meet the ten-year residency requirement, which are grounds for the cancellation of her COC under Section 78.

As to the jurisdiction of the COMELEC vis-a-vis that of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal's (PET), I strongly disagree in the conclusion that the COMELEC, in ruling on the four Section 78-petitions, usurped the jurisdiction of the PET. Petitioner Poe espouses that due to the absence of a false material misrepresentation in her COC, the COMELEC should have dismissed the petitions outright for being premature as they are in the nature of petitions for quo warranto, which is within the sole and exclusive jurisdiction of the PET. This is plain error. The jurisdiction of the PET over election contests attaches only after the President or the Vice-President concerned had been elected and proclaimed. Tecson v. Commission on Elections[5] clearly laid out that:
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. x x x.

xxxx

The rules [Rules of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal] 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. 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 the qualifications of a candidate for the presidency or vice-presidency before the elections are held. (Emphases supplied, citation omitted.)
Section 4, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution sustains this above­ quoted ruling. The grant of jurisdiction to the PET follows the provisions on the preparations of the returns and certificates of canvass for every election for President and Vice-President and the proclamation of the person who obtained the highest number of votes.
SECTION 4. The President and the Vice-President shall be elected by direct vote of the people for a term of six years which shall begin at noon on the thirtieth day of June next following the day of the election and shall end at noon of the same date six years thereafter. The President shall not be eligible for any reelection. No person who has succeeded as President and has served as such for more than four years shall be qualified for election to the same office at any time.

No Vice-President shall serve for more than two successive terms. Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of the service for the full term for which he was elected.

Unless otherwise provided by law, the regular election for President and Vice-President shall be held on the second Monday of May.

The returns of every election for President and Vice-President, duly certified by the board of canvassers of each province or city, shall be transmitted to the Congress, directed to the President of the Senate. Upon receipt of the certificates of canvass, the President of the Senate shall, not later than thirty days after the day of the election, open all the certificates in the presence of the Senate and the House of Representatives in joint public session, and the Congress, upon determination of the authenticity and due execution thereof in the manner provided by law, canvass the votes.

The person having the highest number of votes shall be proclaimed elected, but in case two or more shall have an equal and highest number of votes, one of them shall forthwith be chosen by the vote of a majority of all the Members of both Houses of the Congress, voting separately.

The Congress shall promulgate its rules for the canvassing of the certificates.

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. (Emphasis, supplied.)
In his separate opinion in Tecson, retired Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno was uncompromising about the jurisdiction of the PET, to wit:
The word "contest" in the provision means that the jurisdiction of this Court can only be invoked after the election and proclamation of a President or Vice President. There can be no "contest" before a winner is proclaimed.[6] (Emphasis supplied.)
And likewise in a separate opinion in the same case, retired Justice Alicia Austria-Martinez emphasized that -
The Supreme Court, as a Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) and House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) are electoral tribunals, each specifically and exclusively clothed with jurisdiction by the Constitution to act respectively as "sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications" of the President and Vice-President, Senators, and, Representatives. In a litany of cases, this Court has long recognized that these electoral tribunals exercise jurisdiction over election contests only after a candidate has already been proclaimed winner in an election. Rules 14 and 15 ofthe Rules ofthe Presidential Electoral Tribunal provide that, for President or Vice-President, election protest or quo warranto may be filed after the proclamation of the winner.[7] (Emphasis supplied, citations omitted.)
Section 2(2), Article IX of the 1987 Constitution which expressly vests upon the COMELEC exclusive original jurisdiction and appellate jurisdiction over election "contests" involving local officials is consistent with this doctrine. Election "contests" has a definite meaning under the Constitution, which involve the qualification of proclaimed winning candidates in an election.

On the other hand, Section 2, Article IX(C) of the 1987 Constitution providing that the COMELEC shall have the power to:
(1) Enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum, and recall. (Emphasis supplied.)
is sufficient basis to entrust to the COMELEC all issues relative to the qualifications of all "candidates" to run in National or Local Elections. Implementing the aforementioned provision is Batas Pambansa Bilang 881, or the "Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines" (OEC), which provides for the cancellation of a candidate's Certificate of Candidacy on grounds stated in Section 78 thereof. A contrary construction of the Constitution will result in emasculating the Constitutional mandate of the COMELEC to ensure fair, honest and credible elections. The overbroad interpretation of the power of the PET under the Constitution will prohibit the COMELEC from even disqualifying nuisance candidates for President.

Hence, it is beyond cavil that it is the COMELEC, not the PET, which has jurisdiction over the petitions for the cancellation of the COC of petitioner Poe who is still a candidate at this time.

With the foregoing, I cannot but register my strong dissent to the opinion in the Ponencia that "[t]he exclusivity of the ground (that petitioner Poe made in the certificate a false material representation) should hedge in the discretion of the COMELEC and restrain it from going into the issues of the qualifications of the candidate for the position, if, as in this case, such issue is yet undecided or undetermined by the proper authority. The COMELEC cannot itself, in the same cancellation case, decide the qualification of lack thereof of the candidate." This opinion is contrary to the ruling penned by Justice Perez himself in Reyes v. COMELEC.[8]

According to the Ponencia, the COMELEC cannot, in a Section 78- petition, look into the qualification of the candidate (for Representative, Senator, Vice-President and President) simply because per its perusal of the 1987 Constitution, the latter failed to categorically state that the COMELEC was granted the power to look into the qualifications of candidates for President, Vice-President, Senator and Representatives. It is insisted that the specific provisions of the same giving the PET, SET and HRET jurisdiction over the "election, returns, and qualifications" of the President, Vice­President, Senator and Representatives are sure fire evidence that the COMELEC does not have the authority to look into the qualification of said candidates prior to a determination in a prior proceeding by an authority with proper jurisdiction to look in to the same. Simply put, the Ponencia would have the fact of a Presidential, Vice-Presidential, Senatorial or Congressional candidate's qualification established in a prior proceeding that may be by statute, executive order, or judgment by a competent court or tribunal, before her/his COC can be cancelled or denied due course on grounds of false material representations as to her/his qualifications.

The Ponencia's analysis is utterly incorrect. As shown above, such analysis disregards existing jurisprudence stating that these electoral tribunals exercise jurisdiction over election contests only after a candidate has already been proclaimed winner in an election.

If the Ponencia's analysis is allowed to become the leading jurisprudence on the matter, the Court is as good as amending the OEC by deleting the Section 78 thereof- there can no longer be a petition for denial of due course to or cancellation of COC because the COMELEC has now been disallowed to look into the whether or not a candidate has made a false claim as to her/his material qualifications for the elective office that she/he aspires for. That a Section 78-petition would naturally look into the candidate's qualification is expected of the nature of such petition. As elucidated in Fermin v. COMELEC,[9] to wit:
After studying the said petition in detail, the Court finds that the same is in the nature of a petition to deny due course to or cancel a CoC under Section 78 of the OEC. The petition contains the essential allegations of a "Section 78" petition, namely: (1) the candidate made a representation in his certificate; (2) the representation pertains to a material matter which would affect the substantive rights of the candidate (the right to run for the election for which he filed his certificate); and (3) the candidate made the false representation with the intention to deceive the electorate as to his qualification for public office or deliberately attempted to mislead, misinform, or hide a fact which would otherwise render him ineligible. It likewise appropriately raises a question on a candidate's eliaibilitv for public office, in this case, his possession of the one-year residency requirement under the law.

Lest it be misunderstood, the denial of due course to or the cancellation of the CoC is not based on the lack of qualifications but on a finding that the candidate made a material representation that is false, which may relate to the qualifications required of the public office he/she is running for. It is noted that the candidate states in his/her CoC that he/she is eligible for the office he/she seeks. Section 78 of the OEC, therefore, is to be read in relation to the constitutional and statutory provisions on qualifications or eligibility for public office. If the candidate subsequently states a material representation in the CoC that is false, the COMELEC, following the law, is empowered to deny due course to or cancel such certificate. Indeed, the Court has already likened a proceeding under Section 78 to a quo warranto proceeding under Section 253 of the OEC since they both deal with the eligibility or qualification of a candidate, with the distinction mainly. in the fact that a "Section 78" petition is filed before proclamation, while a petition for quo warranto is filed after proclamation of the winning candidate.

At this point, we must stress that a "Section 78" petition ought not to be interchanged or confused with a "Section 68" petition. They are different remedies, based on different grounds, and resulting in different eventualities. Private respondent's insistence, therefore, that the petition it filed before the COMELEC in SPA No. 07-372 is in the nature of a disqualification case under Section 68, as it is in fact captioned a "Petition for Disqualification," does not persuade the Court.
But the Ponencia misconstrues the above clear import of Fermin. It uses the latter case as its authority to push its erroneous view that the COMELEC has no jurisdiction or power to look into the eligibility of candidates in the absence of a specific law to that effect.

Further, with all due respect to the Ponente, I submit that his position that it is only the PET/SETIHRET that has jurisdiction over the qualifications of candidates for President, Vice-President, Senator, or Representative runs counter to this Court's pronouncement in its Resolution in G.R. No. 20724, Reyes v. Commission on Elections and Joseph Socorro B. Tan[10], of which he was also the Ponente, that -
Contrary to petitioner's claim, however, the COMELEC retains jurisdiction for the following reasons:

First, the HRET does not acquire jurisdiction over the issue of petitioner's qualifications, as well as over the assailed COMELEC Resolutions, unless a petition is duly filed with said tribunaL Petitioner has not averred that she has filed such action.

Second, the jurisdiction of the HRET begins only after the candidate is considered a Member of the House of Representatives, as stated in Section 17, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution:
Section 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 x x x.
As held in Marcos v. COMELEC, the HRET does not have jurisdiction over a candidate who is not a member of the House of Representatives, to wit:
As to the House of Representatives Electoral -Tribunal's supposed assumption of jurisdiction over the issue of petitioner's qualifications after the May 8, 1995 elections, suffice it to say that HRET's jurisdiction as the sole judge of all contests relating to the elections, returns and qualifications of members of Congress begins only after a candidate has become a member of the House of Representatives. Petitioner not being a member of the House of Representatives, it is obvious that the HRET at this point has no jurisdiction over the question. (Emphasis supplied.)
And, interestingly, it was held that -
As to the issue of whether petitioner failed to prove her Filipino citizenship, as well as her one-year residency in Marinduque, suffice it to say that the COMELEC committed no grave abuse of discretion in finding her ineligible for the position of Member of the House of Representatives.
With the indulgence of my colleagues, to emphasize the incongruity of the position taken by the majority in this case led by the Ponente, allow me to quote verbatim the relevant facts and findings of the Court in Reyes as written by the Ponente of this case, to wit:
Let us look into the events that led to this petition: In moving for the cancellation of petitioner's COC, respondent submitted records of the Bureau of Immigration showing that petitioner is a holder of a US passport, and that her status is that of a "balikbayan." At this point, the burden of proof shifted to petitioner, imposing upon her the duty to prove that she is a natural-born Filipino citizen and has not lost the same, or that she has re-acquired such status in accordance with the provisions of R.A. No. 9225. Aside from the bare allegation that she is a natural-born citizen, however, petitioner submitted no proof to support such contention. Neither did she submit any proof as to the inapplicability ofR.A. No. 9225 to her.

x x x x

These circumstances, taken together, show that a doubt was clearly cast on petitioner's citizenship. Petitioner, however, failed to clear such doubt.

x x x x

All in all, considering that the petition for denial and cancellation of the COC is summary in nature, the COMELEC is given much discretion in the evaluation and admission of evidence pursuant to its principal objective of determining of whether or not the COC should be cancelled x x x.

Here, this Court finds that petitioner failed to adequately and substantially show that grave abuse of discretion exists.
With the above, I am at a loss how the Court, through the majority, could rule the way it did in this case when not so long ago it took the opposite position and dismissed the petition of Reyes.

Section 8, Rule 23 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure, as amended, which reads:
SEC. 8. Effect if Petition Unresolved. - If a Petition to Deny Due Course to or Cancel a Certificate of Candidacy is unresolved by final judgment on the day of elections, the petitioner may file a motion with the Division or Commission En Banc, as may be applicable, to suspend the proclamation of the candidate concerned, provided that the evidence for the grounds for denial to or cancel certificate of candidacy is strong. For this purpose, at least three (3) days prior to any election, the Clerk of the Commission shall prepare a list of pending cases and furnish all Commissioners copies of the said list.

A Decision or Resolution is deemed final and executory if, in case of a Division ruling, no motion for reconsideration is filed within the reglementary period, or in cases of rulings of the Commission En Banc, no restraining order is issued by the Supreme Court within five (5) days from receipt of the decision or resolution. (Emphasis supplied.)
does not violate Section 7, Article IX-A of the 1987 Constitution, which states that -
SEC. 7. 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. (Emphasis supplied.)
Section 8, Rule 23 of the COMELEC Rules is a valid exercise of the rule­ making powers of the COMELEC notwithstanding Section 7, Article IX of the 1987 Constitution. The condition "[u]nless otherwise provided by this Constitution or by law" that is mentioned in the latter provision gives the COMELEC the flexibility to fix a shorter period for the finality of its decision and its immediate execution in consonance with the necessity to speedily dispose of election cases, but without prejudice to the continuation of the review proceedings before this Court. Certainly, this is not inconsistent with Commission's constitutional mandate to promulgate its own rules of procedure to expedite the dispositions of election cases, viz.:
ARTICLE IX
CONSTITUTIONAL COMMISSION
C. THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS

SEC. 3. The Commission on Elections may sit en banc or in two divisions, and shall promulgate its rules of procedure in order to expedite disposition of election cases, including pre-proclamation controversies. All such election cases shall be heard and decided in division, provided that motions for reconsideration of decisions shall be decided by the Commission en banc.
The Substantive Issues

The issue is whether or not the COMELEC En banc acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it cancelled the COC for Presidency of Petitioner Poe on the substantive grounds of lack of citizenship and residency qualifications.

I hold that it did not.

Ground for Petition for
Cancellation of COC under
Section 78 of the OEC


Section 78 of the OEC provides that -
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 the 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 due notice and hearing, not later than fifteen days before the election. (Emphasis supplied.)
In relation thereto, Section 74 also of the OEC requires:
SECTION 74. Contents of certificate of candidacy. - The certificate of candidacy shall state that the person filing it is announcing his candidacy for the office stated therein and that he is eligible for said office; if for Member of the Batasang Pambansa, the province, including its component cities, highly urbanized city or district or sector which he seeks to represent; the political party to which he belongs; civil status; his date of birth; residence; his post office address for all election purposes; his profession or occupation; that he will support and defend the Constitution of the Philippines and will maintain true faith and allegiance thereto; that he will obey the laws, legal orders, and decrees promulgated by the duly constituted authorities; that he is not a permanent resident or immigrant to a foreign country; that the obligation imposed by his oath is assumed voluntarily, without mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that the facts stated in the certificate of candidacy are true to the best of his knowledge.

Unless a candidate has officially changed his name through a court approved proceeding, a certificate shall use in a certificate of candidacy the name by which he has been baptized, or if has not been baptized in any church or religion, the name registered in the office of the local civil registrar or any other name allowed under the provisions of existing law or, in the case of a Muslim, his Hadji name after performing the prescribed religious pilgrimage: Provided, That when there are two or more candidates for an office with the same name and surname, each candidate, upon being made aware of such fact, shall state his paternal and maternal surname, except the incumbent who may continue to use the name and surname stated in his certificate of candidacy when he was elected. He may also include one nickname or stage name by which he is generally or popularly known in the locality.

The person filing a certificate of candidacy shall also affix his latest photograph, passport size; a statement in duplicate containing his bio-data and program of government not exceeding one hundred words, if he so desires.
In her 2016 COC for President, much like in her 2013 COC for

Senator, petitioner Poe made the following verified representations, viz.:
  1. PERIOD OF RESIDENCE IN THE PHILIPPINES UP TO THE DAY BEFORE MAY 09, 2016:

    10 No. of Years 11 No. of Months

  2. I AM A NATURAL-BORN FILIPINO CITIZEN.

    x x x x

  3. I AM ELIGIBLE FOR THE OFFICE I SEEK TO BE ELECTED TO.[11]
Materiality of the Representation

With respect to the issue of materiality of the representation, as above discussed, Mitra has settled that "critical material facts are those that refer to a candidate's qualifications for elective office, such as his or her citizenship and residence"; thus, the materiality of the representations on citizenship, residence and/or eligibility is no longer in issue.

Falsity of the Representation

But the truthfulness of the material representation remains an issue to be resolved.

Citizenship Requirement

In the present case, I submit that petitioner Poe's representation that she is a natural-born Filipino citizen, hence, eligible to run for and hold the position of President, is false. My position is anchored on the following reasons:

Under the Constitution, natural­
born Filipino citizenship is based
on blood relationship to a Filipino
father or mother following the
"jus sanguinis" principle


Petitioner Poe being a foundling, does not come within the purview of this constitutionally ordained principle.

During the effectivity of the Spanish Civil Code in the Philippines on December 8, 1889, the doctrines of jus soli and jus sanguinis were adopted as the principles of attribution of nationality at birth.[12]

Upon approval of the Tydings-McDuffie Act (Public Act No. 127), a Constitutional Convention was organized in 1934. The Constitution proposed for adoption by the said Convention was ratified by the Philippine electorate in 1935 after its approval by the President of the United States.[13]

It was in the 1935 Constitution that the Philippines adopted the doctrine of jus sanguinis, literally translated to right by blood, or the acquisition of citizenship by birth to parents who are citizens of the Philippines. The doctrine of jus sanguinis considers blood relationship to one's parents as a sounder guarantee of loyalty to the country than the doctrine of jus soli, or the attainment of a citizenship by the place of one's birth.[14] The case of Tecson v. Commission on Elections traced the history, significance, and evolution of the doctrine of jus sanguinis in our jurisdiction as follows:
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

(2) Those born in the Philippine 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 [or mothers] are citizens ofthe 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 m accordance with law."
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 provlSlons 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 1, 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 ofthis Constitution.

(2) Those whose fathers or mothers are citizens ofthe 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 m 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.
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.'

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 sanguinis 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 Customs (1912), did not last long. With the adoption of the 1935 Constitution and the reversal of Roa in Tan Chong vs. Secretary of Labor (1947), jus sanguinis or blood relationship would now become the primary basis of citizenship bybirth.[15] (Emphasis supplied.)
The changes in the provisions on citizenship was done to harmonize the Article on Citizenship with the State policy of ensuring the fundamental equality before the law of women and men under Section 14, Article II of the 1987 Constitution.

Thus, contrary to the insistence of petitioner Poe that there is nothing in our Constitutions that enjoin our adherence to the principle of "jus sanguinis" or "by right of blood," said principle is, in reality, well­ entrenched in our constitutional system. One needs only to read the 1935, 1973 and 1987 Constitutions and the jurisprudence detailing the history of the well deliberated adoption of the jus sanguinis principle as the basis for natural-born Filipino citizenship, to understand that its significance cannot be lightly ignored, misconstrued, and trivialized.

Natural-born Citizenship by Legal
Fiction or Presumption of Law is
Contrary to the Constitution under
Salient Rules of Interpretation of
the Constitution


In this case, petitioner Poe's original birth certificate stated that she was a foundling, or a child of unknown father or mother, found in Jaro, Iloilo, on September 3, 1968. The Constitution in effect then was the 1935 Constitution. To reiterate, it enumerated the "citizens of the Philippines" in Section 1, Article IV, which included the following:
(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.
Petitioner Poe would want this Court to look beyond the above-quoted enumeration and apply the disputable or rebuttable presumption brought about by the principles of international law and/or customary international law. However, the above-quoted paragraphs (3) and (4) of Article IV are clear, unequivocal and leave no room for any exception.

Rule of Verba Legis

Basic in statutory construction is the principle that when words and phrases of a statute are clear and unequivocal, their meaning must be determined from the language employed and the statute must be taken to mean exactly what it says. This plain-meaning or verba legis rule, expressed in the Latin maxim "verba legis non est recedendum," dictates that "from the words of a statute there should be no departure."[16]

Undeniably, petitioner Poe does not come within the scope of Filipino citizens covered by paragraphs (3) and (4). From a literal meaning of the said provisions, she cannot be considered a natural-born citizen. Paragraphs 3 and 4, Section 1, Article IV of the 1935 Constitution, the organic law in effect during the birth of petitioner Poe, were clear and unambiguous, it did not provide for any exception to the application of the principle of "jus sanguinis" or blood relationship between parents and child, such that natural-born citizenship cannot be presumed by law nor even be legislated by Congress where no blood ties exist.

Function of Extrinsic Aid Such as
the Deliberations of the 1934
Constitutional Convention


Petitioner Poe claims that "foundlings" were intended by the delegates of the 1934 Constitutional Commission to be considered natural-born citizens. Specifically, she maintains that during the debates on this provision, Delegate Rafols proposed an amendment to include foundlings as among those who are to be considered natural-born citizens; that the only reason that there was no specific reference to foundlings in the 1935 Philippine Constitution was because a delegate mentioned that foundlings were too few to warrant inclusion in a provision of the Constitution and their citizenship is dealt with by international law.

The above inference or conclusion drawn from the debates adverted to is not accurate.

Firstly, the deliberations did not evince the collective intent of the members of the 1934 Constitutional Convention to include "foundlings" in the list of Filipino citizens in the Article on Citizenship. Moreover, there was no mention at all of granting them natural-born citizenship.

A review of the transcript of the deliberations of the 1934 Constitutional Convention actually proved prejudicial to petitioner Poe's cause. The suggestion of Delegate Rafols to include in the list of Filipino citizens children of unknown parentage was voted down by the delegates when the amendment and/or suggestion was put to a vote. In other words, the majority thereof voted not to approve Delegate Rafol's amendment.

Secondly. Petitioner Poe's use of the deliberations of the 1934 Constitutional Convention to expand or amend the provision of the Constitution is unwarranted.

The Constitution is the basis of government. It is established by the people, in their original sovereign capacity, to promote their own happiness, and permanently to secure their rights, property, independence, and common welfare. When the people associate, and enter into a compact, for the purpose of establishing government, that compact, whatever may be its provisions, or in whatever language it may be written, is the Constitution of the state, revocable only by people, or in the manner they prescribe. It is by this instrument that government is instituted, its departments created, and the powers to be exercised by it conferred.[17]

Thus, in the construction of the Constitution, the Court is guided by the principle that it (constitution) is the fundamental and paramount law of the nation, and it is supreme, imperious, absolute, and unalterable except by the authority from which it emanates.[18]

In Civil Liberties Union v. Executive Secretary,[19] this Court enunciated that -
While it is permissible in this jurisdiction to consult the debates and proceedings of the constitutional convention in order to arrive at the reason and purpose of the resulting Constitution, resort thereto may be had only when other guides fail as said proceedings are powerless to vary the terms of the Constitution when the meaning is clear. Debates in the constitutional convention "are of value as showing the views of the individual members, and as indicating the reasons for their votes, but they give us no light as to the views of the large majority who did not talk, much less of the mass of our fellow citizens whose votes at the polls gave that instrument the force of fundamental law. We think it safer to construe the constitution from what appears upon its face." The proper interpretation therefore depends more on how it was understood by the people adopting it than in the framer's understanding thereof. (Emphases supplied, citations omitted.)
And as eloquently observed by Charles P. Curtis, Jr.-

The intention of the framers of the Constitution, even assuming we could discover what it was, when it is not adequately expressed in the Constitution, that is to say, what they meant when they did not say it, surely that has no binding force upon us. If we look behind or beyond what they set down in the document, prying into what else they wrote and what they said, anything we may find is only advisory. They may sit in at our councils. There is no reason why we should eavesdrop on theirs.[20]

Synthesized from the aforequoted, it is apparent that debates and proceedings of constitutional conventions lack binding force. Hence
If at all, they only have persuasive value as they may throw a useful light upon the purpose sought to be accomplished or upon the meaning attached to the words employed, or they may not. And the courts are at liberty to avail themselves of any light derivable from such sources, but are not bound to adopt it as the sole ground of their decision.[21]
Moreover, while the opinions of the members of the constitutional convention on the article on citizenship of the 1935 Philippine Constitution may have a persuasive value, it is, to repeat, not expressive of the people's intent. To recap:
The proceedings of the Convention are less conclusive on the proper construction of the fundamental law than are legislative proceedings of the proper construction of a statute, for in the latter case it is the intent of the legislature the courts seek, while in the former, courts seek to arrive at the intent of the people through the discussions and deliberations of their representatives. The conventional wisdom is that the Constitution does not derive its force from the convention which framed it, but from the people who ratified it, the intent to be arrived at is that of the people.[22]
In the present case, given that the language of the third and fourth paragraphs of the article on citizenship of the 1935 Philippine Constitution clearly follow only the doctrine of jus sanguinis, it is, therefore, neither necessary nor permissible to resort to extrinsic aids, like the records of the constitutional convention. A foundling, whose parentage and/or place of birth is obviously unknown, does not come within the letter or scope of the said paragraphs of the Constitution. Considering the silence of the Constitution on foundlings, the people who approved the Constitution in the plebiscite had absolutely no idea about the debate on the citizenship of foundlings and therefore, they could not be bound by it.

Rule that Specific Provisions of
Law Prevails Over General
Provisions


The specific provision of Article IV of the Constitution prevails over the general provisions of Section 21, Article III of the Constitution. General international law principles cannot overturn specifically ordained principles in the Constitution.

Section 2, Article II of the 1987 Constitution provides:
SECTION 2. The Philippines renounces war as an instrument of national policy, adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land and adheres to the policy of peace, equality, justice, freedom, cooperation, and amity with all nations. (Emphasis supplied.)
Generally accepted principles of international law "may refer to rules of customary law, to general principles of law x x x, or to logical propositions resulting from judicial reasoning on the basis of existing international law and municipal analogies."[23] And it has been observed that, certainly, it is this judicial reasoning that has been the anchor of Philippine jurisprudence on the determination of generally accepted principles of international law and consequent application of the incorporation clause.[24]

Petitioner Poe would like to apply to her situation several international law conventions that supposedly point to her entitlement to a natural-born Filipino citizenship, notwithstanding her lack of biological ties to a Filipino father or mother. In effect, she wants to carve an exception to the "jus sanguinis" principle through that generally accepted principles of international law which, under the theory of incorporation, is considered by the Constitution as part of the law of the land.[25]

Basic is the principle in statutory construction that specific provisions must prevail over general ones, to wit:
A special and specific provision prevails over a general provision irrespective of their relative positions in the statute. Generalia specialibus non derogant. Where there is in the same statute a particular enactment and also a general one which in its most comprehensive sense would include what is embraced in the former, the particular enactment must be operative, and the general enactment must be taken to affect only such cases within its general language as are not within the provisions of the particular enactment.
Hence, the general provision of Section 2, Article II of the Constitution on "Declaration of Principles and State Policies" cannot supersede, amend or supplement the clear provisions of Article IV on "Citizenship."

International Law Instruments/
Conventions are not self-executing


Petitioner Poe cannot find succor in the provisions of the 1930 Hague Convention on Certain Questions Relating to the Conflict of Nationality Laws and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, in claiming natural-born Filipino citizenship primarily for the following reasons: firstly, the Philippines has not ratified said International Conventions; secondly, they espouse a presumption by fiction of law which is disputable and not based on the physical fact of biological ties to a Filipino parent; thirdly, said conventions are not self-executing as the Contracting State is granted the discretion to determine by enacting a domestic or national law the conditions and manner by which citizenship is to be granted; and fourthly, the citizenship, if acquired by virtue of such conventions will be akin to a citizenship falling under Section 1(4), Article IV of the 1987 Constitution, recognizing citizenship by naturalization in accordance with law or by a special act of Congress.

The cited international conventions are as follows:
(a) 1930 Hague Convention on Certain Questions Relating to the Conflict ofNationality Laws;

(b) 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness; (c) 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child;

(d) 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and

(e) 1947 UN Declaration on Human Rights
Notice must be made of the fact that the treaties, conventions, covenants, or declarations invoked by petitioner Poe are not self-executing, i.e., the international instruments invoked must comply with the "transformation method" whereby "an international law [must first] be transformed into a domestic law through a constitutional mechanism such as locallegislation."[26]

Each of the aforementioned recognizes the need for its respective provisions to be transformed or embodied through an enactment of Congress before it forms part of the domestic or municipal law, viz.:

(a) The 1930 Hague Convention on Certain Questions Relating to the Conflict of Nationality Laws, which provides:
Article 14.

A child whose parents are both unknown shall have the nationality of the country of birth. If the child's parentage is established, its nationality shall be determined by the rules applicable in cases where the parentage is known.

A foundling is, until the contrary is proved, presumed to have been born on the territory of the State in which it was found.

Article 15.

Where the nationality of a State is not acquired automatically by reason of birth on its territory, a child born on the territory of that State of parents having no nationality, or of unknown nationality, may obtain the nationality of the said State. The law of that State shall determine the conditions governing the acquisition of its nationality in such cases.
(b) The 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, provides:
Article 1

1. A Contracting State shall grant its nationality to a person born in its territory who would otherwise be stateless. Such nationality shall be granted:

(a) At birth, by operation of law, or

(b) Upon an application being lodged with the appropriate authority, by or on behalf of the person concerned, in the manner prescribed by the national law. Subject to the provisions of paragraph 2 of this article, no such application may be rejected.

A Contracting State which provides for the grant of its nationality in accordance with subparagraph (b) of this paragraph may also provide for the grant of its nationality by operation of law at such age and subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by the national law.

xxxx

Article 2

A foundling found in the territory of a Contracting State shall, in the absence of proof to the contrary, be considered to have been born within that territory of parents possessing the nationality of that State.
Conspicuously, the Philippines has neither acceded nor ratified any of the above conventions.

The other international instruments to which the Philippines has acceded, require initially conversion to domestic law via the transformation method of implementing international instruments. They are:

(a) The 1989 UN Convention on the Rights ofthe Child, ratified by the Philippines on August 21, 1990, providing that:
Article 7

1. The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents.

2. States Parties shall ensure the implementation of these rights in accordance with their national law and their obligations under the relevant international instruments in this field, in particular where the child would otherwise be stateless.
(b) The 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the Philippines ratified on October 23, 1986 providing that:
Article 24

1. Every child shall have, without any discrimination as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, national or social origin, property or birth, the right to such measures of protection as are required by his status as a minor, on the part of his family, society and the State.

2. Every child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have a name.

3. Every child has the right to acquire a nationality.
(c) The 1947 Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
Article 15

(1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.

(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.
The foregoing international conventions or instruments, reqmrmg implementing national laws to comply with their terms, adhere to the concept of statehood and sovereignty of the State, which are inviolable principles observed in the community of independent States. The primary objective of said conventions or instruments is to avoid statelessness without impairing State sovereignty. Hence, the Contracting State has the discretion to determine the conditions and manner by which the nationality or citizenship of a stateless person, like a foundling, may be acquired. Neither do they impose a particular type of citizenship or nationality. The child of unknown parentage may acquire the status of a mere "national." Nowhere in the identified international rules or principles is there an obligation to accord the stateless child a citizenship that is of a "natural-born" character. Moreover, even if it so provided, it cannot be enforced in our jurisdiction because it would go against the provisions of the Constitution.

Statutes and Treaties or
International Agreements or
Conventions are accorded the
Same Status in Relation to
the Constitution


In case of conflict between the Constitution and a statute, the former always prevails because the Constitution is the basic law to which all other laws, whether domestic or international, must conform to. The duty of the Court under Section 4(2), Article VIII is to uphold the Constitution and to declare void all laws, and by express provisions of said Section treaties or international agreements that do not conform to it.[27] In a catena of cases, the Supreme ourt further instructed that:
In Social Justice Society v. Dangerous Drugs Board, the Court held that, "It is basic that if a law or an administrative rule violates any norm of the Constitution, that issuance is null and void and has no effect. The Constitution is the basic law to which all laws must conform; no act shall be valid if it conflicts with the Constitution." In Sabia v. Gordon, the Court held that, "the Constitution is the highest law of the land. It is the 'basic and paramount law to which all other laws must conform." In Atty. Macalintal v. Commission on Elections, the Court held that, "The Constitution is the fundamental and paramount law of the nation to which all other laws must conform and in accordance with which all private rights must be determined and all public authority administered. Laws that do not conform to the Constitution shall be stricken down for being unconstitutional." In Manila Prince Hotel v. Government Service Insurance System, the Court held that:
Under the doctrine of constitutional supremacy, if a law or contract violates any norm of the constitution that law or contract whether promulgated by the legislative or by the executive branch or entered into by private persons for private purposes is null and void and without any force and effect. Thus, since the Constitution is the fundamental, paramount and supreme law of the nation, it is deemed written in every statute and contract.[28] (Emphases supplied; citations omitted.)
Citizenship by "Naturalization"
under International Law


Citizenship is not automatically conferred under the international conventions cited but will entail an affirmative action of the State, by a national law or legislative enactment, so that the nature of citizenship, if ever acquired pursuant thereto, is citizenship by naturalization. There must be a law by which citizenship can be acquired by a foundling. By no means will this citizenship can be considered that of a natural-born under the principle of jus sanguinis, which is based on the physical existence of blood ties to a Filipino father or Filipino mother. It will be akin to citizenship by naturalization if conferred by fiction created by an international convention, which is of legal status equal to a statute or law enacted by Congress.

Probabilities/Possibilities Based on Statistics

The Solicitor General argues for Petitioner Poe citing the ratio of children born in the Philippines of Filipino parents to children born in the Philippines of foreign parents during specific periods. He claims that based on statistics, the statistical probability that any child born in the Philippines would be a natural-born Filipino is either 99.93% or 99.83%, respectively, during the period between 2010 to 2014 and 1965 to 1975. This argument, to say the least, is fallacious.

Firstly, we are determining blood ties between a child and her/his parents. Statistics have never been used to prove paternity or filiation. With more reason, it should not be used to determine natural-born citizenship, as a qualification to hold public office, which is of paramount importance to national interest. The issue here is the biological ties between a specific or named foundling and her parents, which must be supported by credible and competent evidence. We are not dealing with the entire population of our country that will justify a generalized approach that fails to take into account that the circumstances under which a foundling is found may vary in each case.

Secondly, the place of birth of the foundling is unknown but the argument is based on the wrong premise that a foundling was born in the place where he/she was found. The age of the foundling may indicate if its place of birth is the place where he or she is found. If the foundling is a newly born baby, the assumption may have solid basis. But this may not always be the case. It does not appear from the documents on record that petitioner Poe was a newborn baby when she was found. There is no evidence as to her place of birth. The Solicitor General cannot, therefore, use his statistics of the number of children born to Filipino parents and to alien parents in the Philippines since the places of birth of foundlings are unknown.

Natural-born citizenship, as a qualification for public office, must be an established fact in view of the jus sanguinis principle enshrined in the Constitution, which should not be subjected to uncertainty nor be based in statistical probabilities. A disputable presumption can be overcome anytime by evidence to the contrary during the tenure of an elective official. Resort to this interpretation has a great potential to prejudice the electorate who may vote a candidate in danger of being disqualified in the future and to cause instability in public service.

A Foundling does not Meet the
Definition of a Natural-born
Filipino Citizen under Section 2,
Article IV of the 1987 Constitution


Other than those whose fathers or mothers are Filipinos, Section 2, Article IV of the Constitution further defines "natural-born citizens" to cover "those who are citizens of the Philippines from birth without having to perform an act to acquire or perfect their Philippine citizenship."

A foundling is one who must first go through a legal process to obtain an official or formal declaration proclaiming him/her to be a foundling in order to be granted certain rights reserved to Filipino citizens. This will somehow prevent opening the floodgates to the danger foreseen by Justice del Castillo that non-Filipinos may misuse a favorable ruling on foundlings to the detriment of national interest and security. Stated otherwise, the fact of being a foundling must first be officially established before a foundling can claim the rights of a Filipino citizen. This being the case, a foundling does not meet the above-quoted definition of a natural-born citizen who is such "from birth".

To illustrate, Republic Act Nos. 8552 and 9523, provide, respectively:

Section 5 of Republic Act No. 8552
SECTION 5. Location of Unknown Parent(s). -It shall be the duty of the Department or the child-placing or child-caring agency which has custody of the child to exert all efforts to locate his/her unknown biological parent(s). If such efforts fail, the child shall be registered as a foundling and subsequently be the subject of legal proceedings where he/she shall be declared abandoned.
Section 2 of Republic Act No. 9523:
SECTION 2. Definition of Terms. - As used in this Act, the following terms shall mean:

x x x x

(3) Abandoned Child refers to a child who has no proper parental care or guardianship, or whose parent(s) have deserted him/her for a period of at least three (3) continuous months, which includes a foundling.

x x x x

SECTION 4. Procedure for the Filing of the Petition. - The petition shall be filed in the regional office of the DSWD where the child was found or abandoned.

The Regional Director shall examine the petition and its supporting documents, if sufficient in form and substance and shall authorize the posting of the notice of the petition in conspicuous places for five (5) consecutive days in the locality where the child was found.

The Regional Director shall act on the same and shall render a recommendation not later than five (5) working days after the completion of its posting. He/she shall transmit a copy of his/her recommendation and records to the Office of the Secretary within forty-eight (48) hours from the date of the recommendation.

SECTION 5. Declaration of Availability for Adoption. -Upon finding merit in the petition, the Secretary shall issue a certification declaring the child legally available for adoption within seven (7) working days from receipt of the recommendation.

Said certification, by itself, shall be the sole basis for the immediate issuance by the local civil registrar of a foundling certificate. Within seven (7) working days, the local civil registrar shall transmit the foundling certificate to the National Statistics Office (NSO).

SECTION 8. -The certification that a child is legally available for adoption shall be issued by the DSWD in lieu of a judicial order, thus, making the entire process administrative in nature.

The certification, shall be, for all intents and purposes, the primary evidence that the child is legally available in domestic adoption proceeding, as provided in Republic Act No. 8552 and in an inter-country adoption proceeding, as provided in Republic Act No. 8043.
The above laws, though pertaining to adoption of a Filipino child, clearly demonstrate that a foundling first undergoes a legal process to be considered as one before he/she is accorded rights to be adopted available only to Filipino citizens. When the foundling is a minor, it is the State under the concept of "parens patriae" which acts for or on behalf of the minor, but when the latter reaches majority age, she/he must, by herself/himself, take the necessary step to be officially recognized as a foundling. Prior to this, the error of out-rightly invoking the "disputable presumption" of alleged "natural-born citizenship" is evident as there can be no presumption of citizenship before there is an official determination of the fact that a child or person is a foundling. It is only after this factual premise is established that the inference or presumption can arise.[29]

That being so, a foundling will not come within the definition of a natural-born citizen who by birth right, being the biological child of a Filipino father or mother, does not need to perform any act to acquire or perfect his/her citizenship.

It should also be emphasized that our adoption laws do not confer "natural-born citizenship" to foundlings who are allowed to be adopted. To read that qualification into the adoption laws would amount to judicial legislation. The said laws of limited application which allows the adoption of a foundling, cannot also be used as a basis to justify the natural-born citizenship of a foundling who has reached majority age like petitioner Poe who applied to reacquire her citizenship under R.A. No. 9225. The opinion of the seven (7) Justices if pursued, there will be no need for a foundling to misrepresent himself or herself as a biological child of her adoptive parents like what petitioner Poe did, and instead, a foundling can be truthful and just submit a Foundling Certificate to be entitled to the benefits of R.A. No. 9225. Since from their point of view a foundling need not perform any act to be considered a natural-born citizen, said foundling need not prove the veracity of the Foundling Certificate. This will include a Foundling Certificate in the Bureau of Immigration (BI) prepared list of evidence of natural-born citizenship. This is pure and simple judicial legislation. Foundlings are not even mentioned at all in R.A. No. 9225.

Pursuing this logic further, will one who wish to take the Bar Examinations or to be appointed to the Judiciary need to submit only a Foundling Certificate to the Supreme Court and the Judicial Bar Council to prove his/her qualification as a natural-born citizen? The same question can be raised in other situations where natural-born citizenship is required, not only by law, but most especially by the Constitution. Do the seven (7) Justices intend that the question be answered in the affirmative? If so, my humble submission is that, apart from violating the Constitution, it will be a reckless position to take as a Foundling Certificate should not automatically confer natural-born citizenship as it can easily be obtained by impostors who pretend to have found a child of unknown parents.

The July 18, 2006 Order of the
Bureau of Immigration approving
petitioner Poe's application for
dual citizenship was not valid.


First, petitioner Poe's claim to a dual citizenship by virtue of R.A. No. 9225 is invalid for the simple reason that the said law limits its application to natural-born Filipino citizens only. In other words, the right to avail of dual citizenship is only available to natural-born citizens who have earlier lost their Philippine citizenship by reason of acquisition of foreign citizenship. Second, petitioner Poe obtained dual citizenship under Republic Act No. 9225 by misrepresenting to the BI that she is the biological child of a Filipino father and Filipino mother such that the Bureau was misled in to believing that "[petitioner Poe] was a former citizen of the Republic of the Philippines being born to Filipino parents. Third, the said order was not signed by the Commissioner of the BI as required by implementing regulations. And her re-acquisition of Philippine citizenship being clearly invalid, petitioner Poe's acceptance and assumption to public office requiring natural-born citizenship as condition sine qua non is likewise invalid.

Republic Act No. 9225 (the Citizenship Retention and Reacquisition Act of 2003)[30] governs the reacquisition or retention of Philippine citizenship by a natural-born Filipino who acquired citizenship in a foreign country. Under Section 3 thereof, natural-born citizens of the Philippines who have lost their Philippine citizenship by reason of their naturalization as citizens of a foreign country are deemed to have re-acquired Philippine citizenship upon taking the oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines specifically stated therein.[31] The foregoing point is reiterated under the Bureau of Immigration's Memorandum Circular No. AFF. 05-002 (Revised Rules Governing Philippine Citizenship under Republic Act No. 9225 and Administrative Order No. 91, Series of 2004), particularly Section 1 thereof, it is categorically provided that
Section 1. Coverage. These rules shall apply to natural-born citizens of the Philippines as defined by Philippine law and jurisprudence, who have lost their Philippine citizenship by reason of their naturalization as citizens of a foreign country.
Hence, given my preceding discussion on the citizenship of petitioner Poe, I submit that she could not have validly repatriated herself under the provisions of Republic Act No. 9225 for purposes of "reacquiring" natural­ born Filipino citizenship.

Another point that I wish to emphasize is the fact that in her Petition for Retention and/or Re-acquisition of Philippine Citizenship filed before the BI on July 10, 2006, petitioner Poe knowingly committed a false representation when she declared under oath that she was "a former natural-born Philippine citizen, born on Sept. 3, 1968 at Iloilo City to Ronald Allan Kelly Poe, a Filipino citizen and Jesusa Sonora Poe, a Filipino citizen[.]" [Emphasis supplied.]

In so answering the blank form of the petition, petitioner Poe plainly represented that she is the biological child of the spouses Ronald Allan Kelly Poe and Jesusa Sonora Poe; thereby effectively concealing the fact that she was a foundling who was subsequently adopted by the said spouses.

This false representation paved the way for the issuance by the BI of the Order dated July 18, 2006 that granted Poe's petition, which declared that she "was a former citizen of the Republic of the Philippines, being born to Filipino parents and is presumed to be a natural-born Philippine citizen[.]"

Another point worthy of note is the fact that the said Order was not signed by the Commissioner of the BI as required under the aforementioned Memorandum Circular No. AFF. 05-002, to wit:
Section 10. Compliance and approval procedures. - All petitions must strictly comply with the preceding requirements prior to filing at the Office of the Commissioner or at nearest Philippine Foreign Post, as the case may be x x x.

If the petition is found to be sufficient in form and in substance, the evaluating officer shall submit the findings and recommendation to the Commissioner of Immigration or Consul General, as the case may be x x x.

[T]he Commissioner of Immigration, x x x, or the Consul General, x x x, shall issue, within five (5) days from receipt thereof, an Order of Approval indicating that the petition complies with the provisions of R.A. 9225 and its IRR, and the corresponding IC, as the case may be. (Emphasis supplied.)
A perusal of the said order will show that an indecipherable signature or autograph is written above the type written name of then Commissioner Alipio F. Fernandez, Jr. (Fernandez). The said writing was not made by Commissioner Fernandez as the word "for" was similarly written beside the name of the latter indicating that the said signature/autograph was made in lieu of the named person's own signature/autograph. Whose signature/autograph it was, and under whose authority it was made, are not evident from the document.

On the basis of the above undisputed facts, I submit that the July 18, 2006 Order of the BI granting petitioner Poe's application for the reacquisition of her supposedly lost natural-born citizenship was not only improvidently issued, but more importantly, it was null and void. The nullity stemmed from her concealment or misrepresentation of a material fact, not an error of law, regarding the identity of her biological parents. The unlawful product of this concealment was carried over in her pursuit of high government positions requiring natural-born citizenship as a qualification. Therefore, the same could not be the source of her reacquisition of all the attendant civil and political rights, including the rights and responsibilities under existing laws of the Philippines, granted to natural-born Filipino citizens.

Petitioner Poe's re-acquisition of Philippine citizenship was not validly approved as it was based on an erroneous finding of fact based on the false representation by petitioner Poe as to her parentage.

The Residency Requirement

The assailed COMELEC resolutions uniformly held that petitioner Poe falsely claimed in her COC that she had been a resident of the Philippines for ten years and eleven months up to the day before the May 9, 2016 elections. Assuming petitioner Poe may be validly repatriated under Republic Act No. 9225, the COMELEC ruled that it was only when she reacquired her Filipino citizenship on July 18, 2006 that she could have re­established her domicile in the Philippines.

Before this Court, petitioner Poe primarily argues that the COMELEC "acted whimsically and capriciously, ignored settled jurisprudence and disregarded the evidence on record in ruling that she made a false material representation in her COC for President when she stated therein that her 'period of residence in the Philippines up to the day before May 09, 2016' would be '10' years and '11' months."[32] Petitioner Poe contends that she re­established her domicile of choice in the Philippines as early as May 24, 2005, even before she reacquired her Filipino citizenship under Republic Act No. 9225.

Section 2, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution provides for the qualifications for the position of President, to wit:
ARTICLE VII
EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT

SECTION 2. 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. (Emphasis supplied.)
For election purposes, the term residence is to be understood not in its common acceptation as referring to dwelling or habitation.[33] In contemplation of election laws, residence is synonymous with domicile. Domicile is the place where a person actually or constructively has his permanent home, where he, no matter where he may be found at any given time, eventually intends to return and remain. It consists not only in the intention to reside in a fixed place but also personal presence in that place, coupled with conduct indicative of such intention.[34]

In Domino v. Commission on Elections,[35] the Court stressed that domicile denotes a fixed permanent residence to which, whenever absent for business, pleasure, or some other reasons, one intends to return. It is a question of intention and circumstances. In the consideration of circumstances, three rules must be borne in mind, namely: (1) that a man must have a residence or domicile somewhere; (2) when once established it remains until a new one is acquired; and (3) a man can have but one residence or domicile at a time.

Domicile is classified into: (1) domicile of origin, which is acquired by every person at birth; (2) domicile of choice, which is acquired upon abandonment of the domicile of origin; and (3) domicile by operation of law, which the law attributes to a person independently of his residence or intention.[36] To acquire a new domicile of choice, the following requirements must concur: (1) residence or bodily presence in the new locality; (2) an intention to remain there; and (3) an intention to abandon the old domicile. There must be animus manendi coupled with animus non revertendi. The purpose to remain in or at the domicile of choice must be for an indefinite period of time; the change of residence must be voluntary; and the residence at the place chosen for the new domicile must be actual.[37]

In Coquilla v. Commission on Elections,[38] the Court held in no uncertain terms that naturalization in a foreign country results in the abandonment of domicile in the Philippines.

Thereafter, in Japzon v. Commission on Elections,[39] the Court construed the requirement of residence under election laws vis-a-vis the provisions of Republic Act No. 9225. The respondent in said case, JaimeS. Ty, was a natural-born Filipino who became an American citizen. He later reacquired his Philippine citizenship under Republic Act No. 9225 and ran for Mayor of the Municipality of General Macarthur, Eastern Samar. Manuel B. Japzon, a rival candidate, questioned Ty's residency in said place. The Court ruled that -
It bears to point out that Republic Act No. 9225 governs the manner in which a natural-born Filipino may reacquire or retain his Philippine citizenship despite acquiring a foreign citizenship, and provides for his rights and liabilities under such circumstances. A close scrutiny of said statute would reveal that it does not at all touch on the matter of residence of the natural-born Filipino taking advantage of its provisions. Republic Act No. 9225 imposes no residency requirement for the reacquisition or retention of Philippine citizenship; nor does it mention any effect of such reacquisition or retention of Philippine citizenship on the current residence of the concerned natural-born Filipino. Clearly, Republic Act No. 9225 treats citizenship independently of residence. This is only logical and consistent with the general intent of the law to allow for dual citizenship. Since a natural­ born Filipino may hold, at the same time, both Philippine and foreign citizenships, he may establish residence either in the Philippines or in the foreign country of which he is also a citizen.

Residency in the Philippines only becomes relevant when the natural-born Filipino with dual citizenship decides to run for public office.

Section 5(2) of Republic Act No. 9225 reads:
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 and responsibilities under existing laws of the Philippines and the following conditions:

x x x x

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

x x x x

As has already been previously discussed by this Court herein, Ty's reacquisition of his Philippine citizenship under Republic Act No. 9225 had no automatic impact or effect on his residence/domicile. He could still retain his domicile in the USA, and he did not necessarily regain his domicile in the Municipality of General Macarthur, Eastern Samar, Philippines. Ty merely had the option to again establish his domicile in the Municipality of General Macarthur, Eastern Samar, Philippines, said place becoming his new domicile of choice. The length of his residence therein shall be determined from the time he made it his domicile of choice, and it shall not retroact to the time of his birth.[40] (Citations omitted; emphasis supplied.)
Applying the foregoing disquisition to the instant cases, it is beyond question that petitioner Poe lost her domicile in the Philippines when she became a naturalized American citizen on October 18, 2001. From then on, she established her new domicile of choice in the U.S. Thereafter, on July 7, 2006, petitioner Poe took her oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines under Republic Act No. 9225. Again, on the assumption that petitioner Poe can validly avail herself of the provisions of said law, she was deemed to have reacquired her Philippine citizenship under the latter date. Subsequently, on October 20, 2010, petitioner Poe executed an Affidavit of Renunciation of Allegiance to the United States of America and Renunciation of American Citizenship (Affidavit of Renunciation).

Following Japzon, petitioner Poe's reacquisition of her Philippine citizenship did riot automatically make her regain her residence in the Philippines. She merely had the option to again establish her domicile here. The length of petitioner Poe's residence herein shall be determined from the time she made the Philippines her domicile of choice. Whether petitioner Poe complied with the ten-year residency requirement for running for the position of the President of the Philippines is essentially a question of fact that indeed requires the review and evaluation of the probative value of the evidence presented by the parties before the COMELEC.

On this note, I concur with the ruling in Justice Del Castillo's Dissenting Opinion that the evidence[41] submitted by petitioner Poe was insufficient to establish her claim that when she arrived in the Philippines on May 24, 2005, her physical presence was imbued with animus manendi. At that point in time, petitioner Poe's status was merely that of a non-resident alien.

Notably, when petitioner arrived in the Philippines on May 24, 2005, the same was through a visa-free entry under the Balikbayan Program.[42] Under Republic Act No. 6768 (An Act Instituting a Balikbayan Program),[43] as amended by Republic Act No. 9174,[44] the said program was instituted "to attract and encourage overseas Filipinos to come and visit their motherland."[45]

Under Section 3 of the above-mentioned law, petitioner Poe was merely entitled to a visa-free entry to the Philippines for a period of one (1) year.[46] Thus, her stay then in the Philippines was certainly not for an indefinite period of time.[47] This only proves that petitioner Poe's stay was not impressed with animus manendi, i.e., the intent to remain in or at the domicile of choice for an indefinite period of time.

In Coquilla v. Commission on Elections,[48] We disregarded the period of a candidate's physical presence in the Philippines at the time when he was still a non-resident alien. In this case, Teodulo M. Coquilla lost his domicile of origin in Oras, Eastern Samar when he joined the U.S. Navy in 1965 and he was subsequently naturalized as a U.S. citizen. On October 15, 1998, he came to the Philippines and took out a resident certificate. Afterwards, he still made several trips to the U.S. Coquilla later applied for repatriation and took his oath as a citizen of the Philippines on November 10, 2000. Coquilla thereafter filed his COC for the mayorship of Oras, Eastern Samar. A rival candidate sought the cancellation of Coquilla's COCas the latter had been a resident of Oras for only six months after he took his oath as a Filipino citizen.

The Court ruled that Coquilla indeed lacked the requisite period of residency. While he entered the Philippines in 1998 and took out a residence certificate, he did so as a visa-free balikbayan visitor whose stay as such was valid for only one year. He then entered the country at least four more times using the same visa-free balikbayan entry. From 1965 until his reacquisition of Philippine citizenship on November 10, 2000, Coquilla's status was held to be that of "an alien without any right to reside in the Philippines save as our immigration laws may have allowed him to stay as a visitor or as a resident alien." The Court also explained that:
The status of being an alien and a non-resident can be waived either separately, when one acquires the status of a resident alien before acquiring Philippine citizenship, or at the same time when one acquires Philippine citizenship. As an alien, an individual may obtain an immigrant visa under § 13[49] of the Philippine Immigration Act of 1948 and an Immigrant Certificate of Residence (ICR) and thus waive his status as a non-resident. On the other hand, he may acquire Philippine citizenship by naturalization under C.A. No. 473, as amended, or, if he is a former Philippine national, he may reacquire Philippine citizenship by repatriation or by an act of Congress, in which case he waives not only his status as an alien but also his status as a non-resident alien.[50] (Citations omitted.)
The Court, thus, found that Coquilla can only be held to have waived his status as an alien and as a non-resident only on November 10, 2000 upon taking his oath as a citizen of the Philippines. The Court arrived at the same ruling in the earlier case of Ujano v. Republic[51] and Caasi v. Court of Appeals.[52]

In the cases at bar, petitioner Poe similarly failed to prove that she waived her status as a non-resident alien when she entered the Philippines on May 24, 2005 as a visa-free balikbayan visitor. Her status only changed when she ostensibly took her oath of allegiance to the Republic under Republic Act No. 9225 on July 7, 2006.

Under Section 5 of Republic Act No. 9225,[53] the entitlement to the full civil and political rights concomitant with the reacquired citizenship shall commence only when the requirements in the said law have been completed and the Philippine citizenship has been acquired. It is only then that that Filipinos who have reacquired their citizenship can be said to gain the right to exercise their right of suffrage or to seek elective public office, subject to the compliance with the requirements laid down in the Constitution and existing laws.

Thus, it is the taking of the oath of allegiance to the Republic on July 7, 2006 presumably conferred upon petitioner Poe not only Philippine citizenship but also the right to stay in the Philippines for an unlimited period of time. It was only then that she can claim subject to proof, that her physical presence in the Philippines was coupled with animus manendi. Any temporary stay in the Philippines prior to the aforesaid date cannot fall under the concept of residence for purposes of elections. The animus manendi must be proven by clear and unmistakable evidence since a dual citizen can still freely enjoy permanent resident status in her/his domicile of choice if said status is not given up or officially waived.

Anent the pieces of evidence[54] that petitioner Poe submitted to prove her animus non revertendi to her domicile in the U.S., I agree with the dissent of Justice Del Castillo that little weight can likewise be properly ascribed to the same, given that they referred to acts or events that took place after May 24, 2005. As such, they were also insufficient to establish petitioner's claim that she changed her domicile as of May 24, 2005. Petitioner Poe's evidence was insufficient to prove animus non revertendi prior to her renunciation of her U.S. citizenship on October 20, 2010. Before the renunciation, it cannot be said that there was a clear and unmistakable intent on the part of petitioner Poe to abandon her U.S. domicile. To be clear, one cannot have two domiciles at any given time. It was thus incumbent upon the petitioner Poe to prove by positive acts that her physical presence in the Philippines was coupled with the intent to relinquish her domicile in the U.S.

As pointed out by Justice Del Castillo, the continued use of her American passport in her travels to the U.S., as well as her ownership and maintenance of two residential houses in the said country until the present time, only served to weaken her stance that she actually and deliberately abandoned her domicile in the U.S. when she came here on May 24, 2005. This is because she continued to represent herself as an American citizen who was free to return to the said country whenever she wished. Moreover, although petitioner Poe supposedly reacquired her Philippine citizenship on July 7, 2006, she was issued a Philippine passport only three years thereafter on October 13, 2009. Thus, I concur with the finding of the Ponencia that petitioner Poe's affidavit of renunciation of U.S. citizenship was the only clear and positive proof of her abandonment of her U.S. domicile.

Given the above findings, the petitioner's evidence fails to substantiate her claim that she had established her domicile of choice in the Philippines starting on May 24, 2005.

By stating in her COC that she had complied with the required ten­ year residency when she actually did not, petitioner made a false material representation that justified the COMELEC's cancellation ofher COC.

The majority opinion, however, reached a dissimilar conclusion and ruled that Coquilla, Japzon, Caballero and Reyes are inapplicable to the case at bar. The maj?rity posited that, unlike in the aforesaid cases where the evidence presented on residency was sparse, petitioner Poe's evidence is overwhelming and unprecedented. The majority furthermore asserted that there is no indication in the said cases that the Court intended to have its ruling therein apply to a situation where the facts are different

I strongly beg to differ.

But of course, the factual milieu of these cases is different from those of Coquilla, Japzon, Caballero and Reyes. No two cases are exactly the same. However, there are no substantial differences that would prevent the application here of the principles enunciated in the said decided cases. Moreover, absolutely nowhere in the said cases did the Court expressly say that the rulings therein only apply pro hac vice (meaning, "for this one particular occasion").[55] On the contrary, the doctrines laid down in said cases are cited in a catena of election cases, which similarly involve the residency requirement for elective positions. Simply put, the jurisprudential doctrines and guidelines set out in said cases, along with other cases dealing with the same subject matter, serve as the standards by which the pieces of evidence of a party in a specific case are to be measured. Even petitioner Poe herself adverts to our ruling in Jafzon, Coquilla and Caballero, albeit in a manner that tends to suit her cause.[56]

In relation to the application of Coquilla to these cases relative to petitioner Poe's utilisation of the visa-free balikbayan entry, the majority opines that under Republic Act No. 6768, as amended, balikbayans are not ordinary transients in view of the law's aim of "providing the opportunity to avail of the necessary training enable the balikbayan to become economically self-reliant members of society upon their return to the country" in line with the government's "reintegration program." The majority, thus, concluded that the visa-free period is obviously granted to allow a balikbayan to re-establish his life and reintegrate himself into the community before he attends to the necessary formal and legal requirements of repatriation.

On this point, the majority apparently lost sight of the fact that the training program envisioned in Republic Act No. 6768, as amended, that is to be pursued in line with the government's reintegration program does not apply to petitioner Poe. It applies to another set of balikbayans who are Filipino overseas workers. Section 6 of the law expressly states that:
SEC. 6. Training Programs. - The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) through the OWWA, in coordination with the Technology and Livelihood Resource Center (TLRC), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), livelihood corporation and other concerned government agencies, shall provide the necessary entrepreneurial training and livelihood skills programs and marketing assistance to a balikbayan, including his or her immediate family members, who shall avail of the kabuhayan program in accordance with the existing rules on the government's reintegration program.

In the case of non-OFW balikbayan, the Department of Tourism shall make the necessary arrangement with the TLRC and other training institutions for possible livelihood training. (Emphasis supplied.)
Indeed, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) is a government agency that is primarily tasked to protect the interest and promote the welfare of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).[57] Among the benefits and services it renders is a Reintegration Program, which defines reintegration as "a way of preparing for the return of OFWs into the Philippine society."[58] Not being an OFW, petitioner Poe is not the balikbayan that is envisioned to be the recipient of the above reintegration program.

If she indeed wanted to reestablish her life here, petitioner Poe should have applied for a Returning Former Filipino Visa, instead availing herself of a visa-free balikbayan entry. This visa may be applied for by a natural born citizen of the Philippines, who has been naturalized in a foreign country, and is returning to the Philippines for permanent residence, including his/her spouse and minor children. By this visa, she would be allowed, inter alia, to stay in the Philippines indefinitely, establish a business, and allowed to work without securing an alien employment permit. This would have definitely established her intent to remain in the Philippines permanently. Unfortunately for petitioner Poe, she did not apply for this visa.

The majority opinion also ascribes grave abuse of discretion on the part of the COMELEC for giving more weight to the 2013 COC of petitioner Poe instead of looking into the many pieces of evidence she presented in order to see if she was telling the truth that she already established her domicile in the Philippines from May 24, 2005. The majority points out that when petitioner Poe made the declaration in her 2013 COC that she has been a resident for a period of six (6) years and six (6) months counted up to the May 13, 2013 elections, she naturally had as reference the residency requirements for election as Senator, which was satisfied by her declared years of residence. The majority even belabors the obvious fact that the length of residence required of a presidential candidate is different from that of a senatorial candidate.

To this I likewise take exception.

It bears pointing out that the COMELEC did not tum a blind eye and deliberately refused to look at the evidence of petitioner Poe. A reading of the assailed COMELEC resolutions reveals that the pieces of evidence of the petitioner were indeed considered, piece by piece, but the same were adjudged insufficient to prove the purpose for which they were offered. To repeat, the emphasis must be on the weight of the pieces of evidence, not the number thereof. The COMELEC, perforce, arrived at an unfavorable conclusion. In other words, petitioner Poe's evidence had actually been weighed and measured by the COMELEC, but same was found wanting.

Moreover, I do not find significant the distinction made on the residency requirement for a presidential candidate and that of a senatorial candidate for purposes of these cases. The truth of a candidate's statement on the fact of her residency must be consistent and unwavering. Changes in a candidate's assertion of the period of residency in the Philippines shall not inspire belief or will not be credible.

Deceit

As to the view that the material representation that is false should be "made with an intention to deceive the electorate as to one's qualifications for public office,"[59] I cannot but deviate therefrom.

Again, Section 78 of the OEC, provides that
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. 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 due notice and hearing, not later than fifteen days before the election. (Emphases supplied.)
In Tagolino v. House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal,[60] the Court had the occasion to enlighten that "the deliberateness of the misrepresentation, much less one's intent to defraud, is of bare significance in a Section 78 petition as it is enough that the person's declaration of a material qualification in the CoC he false." The Court therein further acknowledged that "an express finding that the person committed any deliberate misrepresentation is of little consequence in the determination of whether one's CoC should be deemed cancelled or not"[61]; and concluded that "[w]hat remains material is that the petition essentially seeks to den due course to and/or cancel the CoC on the basis o ineligibility and that the same he granted without any qualification."[62]

The above standard is in keeping with the tenor of Section 78 of the OEC. The said law used the phrase material representation qualified by the term false; and not misrepresentation per se. This distinction, I believe, is quite significant.

A deeper analysis and research on the import and meaning of the language of Section 78, led to the conclusion that as opposed to the use of the term "misrepresentation" which, colloquially is understood to mean a statement made to deceive or mislead,[63] the qualifying term "false" referring to the phrase "material representation" is said to have "two distinct and well-recognized meanings. It signifies (1) intentionally or knowingly, or negligently untrue, and (2) untrue by mistake, accident, or honestly after the exercise of reasonable care."[64] Thus, the word "false" does not necessarily imply an intention to deceive. What is important is that an untrue material representation is made.

Relating to the disqualification under Section 78 of the OEC, the requirement of the said law (that a cancellation of a candidate's COC be exclusively grounded on the presence of any VS. contained therein that is required under Section 74 of the same is false) should only pivot on the candidate's declaration of a material qualification that is false, and not on the deliberate intent to defraud. With this, good faith on the part of the candidate would be inconsequential.

In these present cases, there is no need to go into the matter of questioning petitioner Poe's intent in making a material representation that is falseIt is enough that she signified that she is eligible to run for the Presidency notwithstanding the fact that she appeared to know the legal impediment to her claim of natural-born Filipino citizenship, as borne out by her concealment of her true personal circumstances, and that she is likewise aware of the fact that she has not fulfilled the ten-year residency requirement as shown by her inconsistent and ambivalent stand as to the start of her domicile in the Philippines. Apparently, she is cognizant of the fact that she is actually ineligible for the position.

However, that while an intent to deceive in petitioner Poe's actions is not an indispensable element under a Section 78 Petition, the COMELEC's affirmative finding on the existence of deceit is not without basis. The COMELEC observed, and I quote:
The simplicity and clarity of the terms used in our Constitution and laws on citizenship, the fact that [petitioner Poe] is a highly educated woman and all other circumstances found by the Honorable Second Division to be present in this case, would leave little doubt as to the intention of [petitioner Poe] when she made the false representations in the Certificates x x x that is, to mislead [the] people into thinking that she was then a Filipino.

The Commission is especially bothered by [petitioner Poe's] representation in the Petition for Retention and/or Reacquisition of Philippine Citizenship that she was BORN TO her adoptive parents. To recall, it was this Petition, granted by the BID, that led to [petitioner Poe] supposed acquisition of Filipino citizenship in July 2006 under RA 9225 - a law which limits its application only to natural-born Filipinos who lost their citizenships. The design to mislead in order to satisfy the requirements of the law is evident, reminiscent of the intent to mislead in the 2016 COC, put in issue in the present case.

All told, the foregoing misrepresentations may be for different purposes, but all seems to have been deliberately done. It is, therefore, hard to think, given the aforementioned pattern of behavior, that the representation in [petitioner Poe's] 2016 COC for President that she was a natural-born citizen was not a deliberate attempt to mislead, misinform, or hide a fact that would otherwise render her ineligible for the office that she seeks to be elected to.[65]
On the matter of her residency requirement, petitioner Poe concedes that she indicated in her 2013 COC that her "period of residence in the Philippines before May 13, 2013" was "6 years and 6 months." Consequently, her residence in the Philippines could have only begun on November 2006, such that by May 9, 2016, her aggregate period of residence in the Philippines was approximately only 9 years and 6 months, which is short ofthe period of residence required for presidential candidates.

Petitioner Poe explains, however, that she made the above statement as an "honest misunderstanding" of what was being asked of her.[66] She contends that she did not fully comprehend that the phrase "Period of Residence in the Philippines before May 13, 2013" in her 2013 COC actually referred to the period of residence on the day right before the May 13, 2013 elections. She allegedly construed it to mean her "period of residence in the Philippines as of the submission of COCs in October 2012 (which is technically also a period 'before May 13, 2013')."[67] Thus, she counted backwards from October 2012, instead from May 13, 2013 and in so doing she brought herself back to "March-April 2006," which was the period when her house in the U.S. was sold and when her husband resigned from his job in the U.S.[68] She argues that that was the period she indicated, albeit it was a mistake again on her part as it should have been May 24, 2005.

Petitioner Poe's ambivalent or varying accounts do not inspire beliefs of the truthfulness of her latest allegation of the period of her residence in the Philippines.

It is indeed incredible of someone of her stature to gravely misinterpret the phrase "Period of Residence in the Philippines before the May 13, 2013" in the 2012 COC. At any rate, having been informed as early as June 2015 of this supposedly honest mistake, it is quite perplexing that the same was not immediately rectified. As it were, the above­ mentioned explanations that were belatedly given even muddled the issue further. Petitioner Poe can hardly blame the COMELEC for casting a suspicious and skeptic eye on her contentions regarding her residency.

Petitioner Poe's claim of good faith, thus, stands on very shaky grounds. As found by the COMELEC En banc:
x x x worthy of note are certain arguments raised such as [petitioner Poe's] claim that she never hid from the public her supposed mistake in the 2013 COC, as evinced by the following: 1.) she publicly acknowledged the same in an interview in June 2015, after the issue of compliance with the residency requirement for President was raised by Navotas City Representative and then United Nationalist Alliance Secretary General Tobias Tiangco; and 2.) that as early as September 1, 2015, in her Verified Answer filed before the Senate Electoral Tribunal (hereinafter "SET") in SET Case No. 001-15, she already made it of record that as of May 13, 2013, she had been residing in the Philippines "for more than six (6) years and six (6) months."

While the two statements were indeed made before respondent filed her 2016 COC, it was nonetheless delivered at a time when, at the very least, the possibility of [petitioner Poe] running for President of the country in 2016, was already a matter of public knowledge. By then, [petitioner Poe could have already been aware that she cannot maintain her declaration in the 2013 COC as it would be insufficient to meet the 10- year residency requirement for President.

Indeed, the Commission finds it hard to believe that a woman as educated as [petitioner Poe], who was then already a high-ranking public official with, no doubt, a competent staff and a band of legal advisers, and who is not herself entirely unacquainted with Philippine politics being the daughter of a former high-profile presidential aspirant, would not know how to correctly fill-up a pro-forma COC in 2013. We are not convinced that the subject entry therein was an honest mistake.
Conclusion

The foregoing discussion points to the failure of petitioner Poe to prove her cases. Therefore, I submit that the two assailed COMELEC En banc Resolutions dated December 23, 2015, separately affirming the December 1, 2015 Resolution of the Second Division and the December 11, 2015 Resolution of the First Division are not tainted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.

Petitioner Poe implores this Court not to allow the supposed disenfranchisement of the sovereign people by depriving them of "of something rightfully theirs: the consideration of petitioner as a viable and valid choice for President in the next elections."[69]

But the Constitution itself is the true embodiment of the supreme will of the people. It was the people's decision to require in the Constitution, which they approved in a plebiscite, that their President be a natural-born Filipino citizen. The people did not choose to disenfranchise themselves but rather to disqualify those persons, who did not descend by blood from Filipino parents, from running in an election for the Presidency.

The will of the electorate will never cure the vice of ineligibility. As so eloquently reminded by then Justice Isagani A. Cruz in Frivaldo v. Commission on Elections[70]:
The qualifications prescribed for elective office cannot be erased by the electorate alone. The will of the people as expressed through the ballot cannot cure the vice of ineligibility, especially if they mistakenly believed, as in this case, that the candidate was qualified. Obviously, this rule requires strict application when the deficiency is lack of citizenship.
WHEREFORE, I vote to (i) DISMISS the four petitions for certiorari filed by petitioner Mary Grace Natividad S. Poe-Llamanzares; and (ii) LIFT the temporary restraining order issued by this Court on December 28, 2015.


[1] Section 2, Rule 64 ofthe Rules of Court states:

SEC. 2. Mode of review. A judgment or final order or resolution of the Commission on Elections and the Commission on Audit may be brought by the aggrieved party to the Supreme Court on certiorari under Rule 65, except as hereinafter provided.

[2] G.R. No. 209286, September 23, 2014, 736 SCRA 267, 279-280.

[3] 636 Phil. 753 (2010).

[4] 686 Phil. 649 (2012).

[5] 468 Phil. 421,461-462 (2004).

[6] Id. at 518.

[7] Id. at 562-563.

[8] G.R. No. 20724, June 25, 2013.

[9] 595 Phil. 449 (2008).

[10] June 25, 2013.

[11]  Annex "B" ofthe Petition in G.R. No. 221697.

[12] Irene R. Cortes and Raphael Perpetuo M. Lotilla, Nationality and International Law from the Philippine Perspective, published in the Philippine Law Journal, Volume LX, March 1985, University of the Philippines (UP) College of Law, p. 7.; citing Art. 17 (1 and 2) Spanish Civil Code.

[13] Id. at 10.

[14] Id.

[15] Tecson v. Commission on Elections, supra note 5 at 469-471.

[16] Garcia v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 216691, July 21, 2015.

[17] Words and Phrases, Vol. 2, p. 1462; Citing McKoan vs. Devries, 3 Barb., 196, 198 [quoting 1 Story, Const., Sees. 338, 339]; Church vs. Kelsey, 7 Sup. Ct., 897, 898; 121 U.S., 282; 30 L. ed., 960, and Bates vs. Kimball [Vt.], 2 D. Chip., 77, 84.

[18] Manila Prince Hotel v. Government Service Insurance System, 335 Phil. 82, 101 (1997).

[19] 272 Phil. 147, 169-170 (1991).

[20] Charles P. Curtis, LIONS UNDER THE THRONE 2, Houghton Mifflin, 1947.

[21] Dennis B. Funa, Cannons of Statutory Construction (2012 Edition); Citing Henry Campbell Black, Handbook on the Construction and Interpretation of the Laws, p. 30, quoting City of Springfield v. Edwards, 84 IlL 626.

[22] Retired Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno's Separate Opinion in Integrated Bar of the Philippines v. Zamora, 392 Phil. 618, 668-669 (2000).

[23] Separate Opinion of J. Carpio-Morales in Rubrico v. Macapagal-Arroyo, 627 Phil. 37, 80 (2010); citing IAN BROWNLIE, Principles of Public International Law, Sixth Ed., 18 (2003).

[24] Id.

[25] 1987 Constitution, Article II, Section 2.

[26] Pharmaceutical and Health Care Association of the Philippines v. Duque III, 561 Phil. 386, 398 (2007).

[27] Tawang Multi-Purpose Coopetative v. La Trinidad Water District, 661 Phil. 390 (2011).

[28] Id. at 402-403.

[29] Martin v. Court of Appeals, supra.

[30] Approved on August 29, 2003.

[31] Section 3 of Republic Act No. 9225 states:

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 re­ acquired 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.

[32] Petitioner's Memorandum, p. 241.

[33] Coquilla v. Commission on Elections, 434 Phil. 861, 871 (2002).

[34] Ugdoracion, Jr. v. Commission on Elections, 575 Phil. 253, 263 (2008).

[35] 369 Phil. 798, 818 (1999).

[36] Ugdoracion, Jr. v. Commission on Elections, supra. at 263.

[37] Papandayan, Jr. v. Commission on Elections, 430 Phil. 754, 770 (2002).

[38] Supra at 872.

[39] 596 Phil. 354 (2009).

[40] Id. at 367-370.

[41] In petitioner's Memorandum, she cited the following pieces of evidence to prove her animus manendi, or intent to stay permanently in the Philippines, among others:

(a) Petitioner's travel records, which show that whenever she was absent for a trip abroad, she would consistently return to the Philippines;

(b) Affidavit of Ms. Jesusa Sonora Poe, attesting to, inter alia, the fact that after their arrival in the Philippines in early 2005, petitioner and her children first lived with her at 23 Lincoln St., Greenhills West, San Juan City, which even necessitated a modification of the living arrangements at her house to accommodate petitioner's family;

(c) School records of petitioner's·children, which show that they had been attending Philippine schools continuously since June 2005;

(d) Petitioner's TIN I.D., which shows that shortly after her return in May 2005, she considered herself a taxable resident and submitted herself to the Philippines' tax jurisdiction; and

(e) CCT for Unit 7F and a parking slot at One Wilson Place, purchased in early 2005, and its corresponding Declarations of Real Property for real property tax purposes, which clearly establish intent to reside permanently in the Philippines.

[42] Petitioner's Memorandum, pp. 249-250.

[43] Approved on November 3, 1989.

[44] Approved on November 7, 2002.

[45] The relevant portion of Section l of Republic Act No. 9174 states:

SEC. 1. Section 1 of Republic Act No. 6768 is hereby amended to read as follows:

"Section 1. Balikbayan Program. - A Balikbayan Program is hereby instituted under the administration of the Department of Tourism to attract and encourage overseas Filipinos to come and visit their motherland. This is in recognition of their contribution to the economy of the country through the foreign exchange inflow and revenues that they generate."

[46] Section 3 of Republic Act No. 9174 states:

SEC. 3. Section 3 of the [Republic Act No. 6768] is hereby amended to read as follows:

"Sec. 3 Benefits and Privileges of the Balikbayan. - The balikbayan and his or her family shall be entitled to the following benefits and privileges:

x x x x

(c) Visa-free entry to the Philippines for a period of one (1) year for foreign passport holders, with the exception of restricted nationals[.]"

[47] The one year period may be extended for another one (1), two (2) or six (6) months, subject to specific requirements. [http://www.immigration.gov.ph/faqs/visa-inquiry/balikbayan-previlege. Last accessed: February 27, 2016.]

[48] Supra note 33.

[49] The pertinent portions of this provision states:

"Under the conditions set forth in this Act, there may be admitted in the Philippines immigrants, termed "quota immigrants" not in excess of fifty (50) of any one nationality or without nationality for any one calendar year, except that the following immigrants, termed "nonquota immigrants," may be admitted without regard to such numerical limitations.

The corresponding Philippine Consular representative abroad shall investigate and certifY the eligibility of a quota immigrant previous to his admission into the Philippines. Qualified and desirable aliens who are in the Philippines under temporary stay may be admitted within the quota, subject to the provisions of the last paragraph of Section 9 of this Act.

x x x x

(g) A natural-born citizen of the Philippines, who has been naturalized in a foreign country, and is returning to the Philippines for permanent residence, including the spouse and minor children, shall be considered a non-quota immigrant for purposes of entering the Philippines (As amended by Rep. Act No. 4376, approved June 19, 1965)."

[50] Coquilla v. Commission on Elections, supra note 33 at 873-875.

[51] 17 SCRA 147.

[52] 191 SCRA 229.

[53] Section 5 of Republic Act No. 9225 states:

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:

(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 active service as commissioned or noncommissioned officers in the armed forces ofthe country which they are naturalized citizens.

[54] In petitioner's Memorandum, she cited the following pieces of evidence to prove her animus non revertendi, or intent to abandon her U.S.A. domicile, among others:

(a) Affidavit of Ms. Jesusa Sonora Poe, attesting to, among others, the reasons which prompted the petitioner to leave the U.S.A. and return permanently to the Philippines;

(b) Affidavit of petitioner's husband, Mr. Teodoro V. Llamanzares, corroborating the petitioner's statement and explaining how he and the petitioner had been actively attending to the logistics of their permanent relocation to the Philippines since March 2005;

(c) The petitioner and her husband's documented conversations with property movers regarding the relocation of their household goods, furniture, and cars, then in Virginia, U.S.A., to the Philippines, which show that they intended to leave the U.S.A. for good as early as March 2005;

(d) Relocation of their household goods, furniture, cars, and other personal property then in Virginia, U.S.A., to the Philippines, which were packed and collected for storage and transport to the Philippines on February and April 2006;

(e) Petitioner's husband's act of informing the U.S.A. Postal Service of their abandonment of their former U.S.A. address on March 2006;

(f) Petitioner and her husband's act of selling their family home in the U.S.A. on April 27, 2006;

(g) Petitioner's husband's resignation from his work in the U.S.A. in April 2006; and

(h) The return to the Philippine's of petitioner's husband on May 4, 2006.

[55] Partido Ng Manggagawa v. Commission on Elections, 519 Phil. 644, 671 (2006).

[56] See Petitioner's Memorandum, pp. 268, 271, 272.

[57] Overseas Workers Welfare Administration v. Chavez, 551 Phil. 890, 896 (2007).

[58] http://www.owwa.gov.ph/?q=node/23/#reintegration. Last accessed on March 11, 2016 at 1:52 p.m.

[59] Salcedo v. Commission on Elections. 371 Phil. 377, 390 (1999).

[60] G.R. No. 202202, March 19, 2013.

[61] Tagolino v. House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal, citing Miranda v. Abaya, 370 Phil. 642.

[62] Id.

[63] Black's Law Dictionary, 6th Ed.

[64] Metropolitan Life Ins. Co. v. Adams, D.C. Mun. App., 37 A.2d 345, 350.

[65] COMELEC Decision in SPA No. 15-001 (DC), pp. 30-31.

[66] Petitioner's Memorandum, p. 285.

[67] Petitioner's Memorandum, p. 285.

[68] Petitioner's Memorandum, pp. 286-287.

[69] Petition in G.R. No. 221697, p.1; rollo, p. 1.

[70] G.R. No. 87193, [June 23, 1989], 255 PHIL 934-947.



DISSENTING OPINION

BRION, J.:

I write this DISSENTING OPINION to express my disagreements with the ponencia of my esteemed colleague, Mr. Justice JOSE P. PEREZ, who wrote the majority opinion of this Court.

The ponencia is based on the exclusive ground that the COMELEC committed "grave abuse of discretion" in "denying due course to and/or cancelling her Certificate of Candidacy for the President for the May 9, 2016 elections for false material representation as to her citizenship and residency."

I write as well to offer help to the general public so that they may be enlightened on the issues already darkened by political and self-interested claims and counterclaims, all aired by the media, paid and unpaid, that only resulted in confusing what would otherwise be fairly simple and clear-cut issues.

I respond most especially to the appeal of our President Benigno C. Aquino for this Court to rule with clarity for the sake of the voting public. Even a Dissent can contribute to this endeavor. Thus, I write with utmost frankness so that everyone may know what really transpired within the Court's veiled chambers.

For a systematic and orderly approach in presenting my Dissent, I shall:

• First summarize the ponencia and the votes of the ruling majority (Part A);

• Then proceed to my more specific objections to the ponencia's egregious claims; (Part B) and

• quote the portions of my original Separate Concurring Opinion that specifically dispute the majority's ruling (Part C).

In this manner, I can show how mistaken and misplaced the majority's ruling had been, and how it dishonored our Constitution through its slanted reading that allows one who does not qualify to serve as President, to be a candidate for this office.

Shorn of the glamor and puffery that paid advertising and media can provide, this case is about an expatriate - a popular one - who now wants to run for the presidency after her return to the country. Her situation is not new as our jurisprudence is replete with rulings on similar situations. As early as 1995, a great jurist - Justice Isagani Cruz[1] - (now deceased but whose reputation for the energetic defense of and respect and love for the Constitution still lives on) gave his "take" on this situation in his article Return of the Renegade. He wrote:
"... Several years ago a permanent resident of the United States came back to the Philippines and was elected to a local office. A protest was lodged against him on the ground of lack of residence. The evidence submitted was his green card, and it was irrefutable. The Supreme Court ruled that his permanent and exclusive residence was in the United States and not in the municipality where he had run and won. His election was annulled.

Where a former Filipino citizen repents his naturalization and decides to resume his old nationality, he must manifest a becoming contrition. He cannot simply abandon his adopted country and come back to this country as if he were bestowing a gift of himself upon the nation. It is not as easy as that. He is not a donor but a supplicant.

In a sense, he is an apostate. He has renounced Philippine citizenship by a knowing and affirmative act. When he pledged allegiance to the adopted country, he also flatly disavowed all allegiance to the Philippines. He cannot erase the infidelity by simply establishing his residences here and claiming the status he has lost.

The remorseful Filipino turned alien by his own choice cannot say that he sought naturalization in another country only for reasons of convenience. That pretext is itself a badge of bad faith and insincerity. It reflects on his moral character and suggests that he is not an honest person. By his own admission, he deceived his adopted country when he pretended under oath to embrace its way of life."
[Emphases and underscoring supplied]
Of course, this is only one side of the story and cannot represent the total truth of the returning citizen situation. Still, it would be best to remember the renegade, lest we forget this hidden facet of this case as we hear many impassioned pleas for justice and fairness, among them for foundlings, within and outside the Court. What should be before us should be one whole story with all the pieces woven together, both for and against the parties' respective sides. Part of this story should be the general public whose interests should be foremost in our minds. In considering them, we should consider most of all the Constitution that that they approved in the exercise of their sovereign power.

PART A

SUMMARY OF THE PONENCIA'S VOTES & POSITIONS

Of the nine (9) members of the Court supporting the ponencia, four ( 4) - among them, Justices Benjamin Caguioa, Francis Jardeleza, and Mario Victor M.V.F. Leonen, as well as Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno herself - submitted their respective opinions to explain their own votes as reasons for supporting the ponencia 's conclusions.

While they offered their respective views (particularly on Poe's claimed natural-born citizen status, ten-year residency, and the COMELEC's conclusion of false representations), they fully concurred (by not qualifying their respective concurrences) with the ponencia's basic reason in concluding that grave abuse of discretion attended the COMELEC's challenged rulings.

On the other hand, the other four (4) members who voted with the majority fully concurred without qualification with the ponencia, thus fully joined it.

In granting Poe's certiorari petitions, the ponencia ruled that-
"...[t]he procedure and the conclusions from which the questioned Resolutions emanated are tainted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction. [Poe] is a QUALIFIED CANDIDATE for President in the May 9, 2016 National Elections."[2] [emphasis and underscoring supplied]
Under the terms of this grant, the ponencia confirmed its position that the COMELEC ruling was attended by grave abuse of discretion and this was the sole basis for the Court decision that COMELEC ruling should be nullified and set aside.

The ponencia gave the following explanations, which I quote for specific reference (as I do not wish to be accused of maliciously misreading the ponencia):
"The issue before the COMELEC is whether or not the COC of [Poe] should be denied due course or cancelled 'on the exclusive ground' that she made in the certificate a false material representation. The exclusivity of the ground should hedge in the discretion of the COMELEC and restrain it from going into the issue of the qualifications of the candidate for the position, if, as in this case, such issue is yet undecided or undetermined by the proper authority. The COMELEC cannot itself, in the same cancellation case, decide the qualification or lack thereof of the candidate.

x x x x

x x x as presently required, to disqualify a candidate there must be a declaration by a final judgment of a competent court that the candidate sought to be disqualified 'is guilty of or found by the Commission to be suffering from any disqualification provided by law or the Constitution.
[3]

x x x The facts of qualification must beforehand be established in a prior proceeding before an authority properly vested with jurisdiction. The prior determination of qualification may be by statute, by executive order or by judgment of a competent court or tribunal."[4]

If a candidate cannot be disqualified without prior finding that he or she is suffering from a disqualification 'provided by law or the Constitution, ' neither can the [CoC] be cancelled or denied due course on grounds of false material representations regarding his or her qualifications, such prior authority being the necessary measure by which falsity of representation can be found. The only exception that can be made conceded are self-evident facts of unquestioned or unquestionable veracity and judicial confessions xx x [which] are equivalent to prior decisions against which the falsity of representation can be determined".[5]
To summarize all these in a more straight-forward format, the ponencia concluded that the COMELEC gravely abused its discretion in cancelling Poe's CoC because:
(1) the Comelec did not have the authority to rule on Poe's citizenship and residency qualifications as these qualifications have not yet been determined by the proper authority.

(2) since there is no such prior determination as to Poe's qualifications, there is no basis for a finding that Poe's representations are false;

(3) while a candidate's CoC may be cancelled without prior disqualification finding from the proper authority, the issues involving Poe's citizenship and residency do not involve self evident facts of unquestioned or unquestionable veracity from which the falsity of representation could have been determined; and

(4) The COMELEC's determinations on Poe's citizenship and residency are acts of grave abuse of discretion because:

(a) Poe's natural-born citizenship is founded on the intent of the framers of the 1935 Constitution, domestically recognized presumptions, generally accepted principles of international law, and executive and legislative actions; and

(b) Poe's residency claims were backed up not only by jurisprudence, but more importantly by overwhelming evidence.
Justice Caguioa additionally offered the view that the requirement of "deliberate intent to deceive" cannot be disposed of by a simple finding that there was false representation of a material fact. Rather, there must also be a showing of the candidate's intent to deceive animated the false material representation.[6]

J. Caguioa also pointed out that the COMELEC shifted the burden to Poe to prove that she had the qualifications to run for President instead of requiring the private respondents (as the original petitioners in the petitions before the COMELEC) to prove the three (3) elements required in a Section 78 proceeding. It failed to appreciate that the evidence of both parties rested, at the least, at equipoise, and should have been resolved in favor of Poe.

A.1. The ponencia on Poe's citizenship

First, on Poe's citizenship, i.e, that Poe was not a natural-born Philippine citizen; the ponencia essentially ruled that although she is a foundling, her blood relationship with a Filipino citizen is demonstrable.[7]

J. Leonen agreed with this point and added[8] that all foundlings in the Philippines are natural-born being presumptively born to either a Filipino biological father or mother, unless substantial proof to the contrary is shown. There is no requirement that the father or mother should be identified. There can be proof of a reasonable belief that evidence presented in a relevant proceeding substantially shows that either the father or the mother is a Filipino citizen.

For his part, J. Caguioa submitted that if indeed a mistake had been made regarding her real status, this could be considered a mistake on a difficult question of law that could be the basis of good faith.[9]

Second, more than sufficient evidence exists showing that Poe had Filipino parents since Philippine law provides for presumptions regarding paternity.[10] Poe's admission that she is a foundling did not shift the burden of proof to her because her status did not exclude the possibility that her parents are Filipinos.[11]

The factual issue is not who the parents of Poe are, as their identities are unknown, but whether such parents were Filipinos.[12] The following circumstantial evidence show that Poe was a natural-born Filipino: (1) statistical probability that any child born in the Philippines at the time of Poe's birth is natural-born Filipino; (2) the place of Poe's abandonment; and (3) Poe's Filipino physical features.[13]

Third, the framers of the 1935 Constitution and the people who adopted this Constitution intended foundlings to be covered by the list of Filipino citizens.[14] While the 1935 Constitution's enumeration is silent as to foundlings, there is no restrictive language that would definitely exclude foundlings.[15]

Thus viewed, the ponencia believes that Poe is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines by circumstantial evidence, by presumption, and by implication from the silent terms of the Constitution.

The ponencia also clarified that the Rafols amendment pointed out by Poe was not carried in the 1935 Constitution not because there was any objection to their inclusion, but because the number of foundlings at the time was not enough to merit specific mention.[16]

More than these reasons, the inclusion of foundlings in the list of Philippine citizens is also consistent with the guarantee of equal protection of the laws and the social justice provisions in the Constitution.[17]

J. Jardeleza particularly agreed with these reasons and added that in placing foundlings at a disadvantaged evidentiary position at the start of the hearing and imposing upon them a higher quantum of evidence, the COMELEC effectively created two classes of children: (1) those with known biological parents; and (2) those whose biological parents are unknown. This classification is objectionable on equal protection grounds because it is not warranted by the text of the Constitution. In doing so, the COMELEC effectively subjected her to a higher standard of proof, that of absolute certainty.[18]

Fourth, the domestic laws on adoption and the Rule on Adoption support the principle that foundlings are Filipinos as these include foundlings among the Filipino children who may be adopted.[19]

In support of this position, J. Leonen additionally pointed out that the legislature has provided statutes essentially based on a premise that foundlings are Philippine citizens at birth, citing the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006; and that the Philippines also ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the 1966 International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, which are legally effective and binding by transformation.

J. Leonen further argued that the executive department had, in fact, also assumed Poe's natural-born status when she reacquired citizenship pursuant to Republic Act No. 9225 (Citizenship Retention and Reacquisition Act of 2003, hereinafter RA 9225) and when she was appointed as the Chairperson of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTR CB).[20] Her natural-born status was recognized, too, by the people when she was elected Senator and by the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) when it affirmed her qualifications to run for Senator.[21]

The Chief Justice added, on this point, that the SET decision is another document that shows that she was not lying when she considered herself a natural-born Filipino. At the very least, it is a prima facie evidence finding of natural-born citizenship that Poe can rely on. The SET ruling negated the element of deliberate attempt to mislead.[22]

Fifth. the issuance of a foundling certificate is not an act to acquire or perfect Philippine citizenship that makes a foundling a naturalized Filipino at best. "Having to perform an act" means that the act must be personally done by the citizen. In the case of foundlings, the determination of his/her foundling status is not done by himself, but by the authorities.[23]

Sixth, foundlings are Philippine citizens under international law, i.e., the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR), United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), and the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), all obligate the Philippines to grant them nationality from birth and to ensure that no child is stateless. This grant of nationality must be at the time of birth which cannot be accomplished by the application of our present Naturalization Laws.[24]

The principle - that the foundlings are presumed to have the nationality of the country of birth, under the 1930 Hague Convention on Certain Questions Relating to the Conflict of Nationality Laws and the 1961 United Nations Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness - is a generally accepted principle of international law. "Generally accepted principles of international law" are based not only on international custom, but also on "general principles of law recognized by civilized nations."[25]

The requirement of opinio Juris sive necessitates in establishing the presumption of the founding State's nationality in favor of foundlings under the 1930 Hague Convention and the 1961 Convention on Statelessness as generally accepted principle of international law was, in fact, established by the various executive and legislative acts recognizing foundlings as Philippine citizens, i.e., by the executive through the Department of Foreign Affairs in authorizing the issuance of passports to foundlings, and by the Legislature, via the Domestic Adoption Act. Adopting these legal principles in the 1930 Hague Convention and the 1961 Convention on Statelessness is rational and reasonable and consistent with the jus sanguinis regime in our Constitution.[26]

Lastly, the COMELEC disregarded settled jurisprudence that repatriation results in the reacquisition of natural-born Philippine citizenship.[27] Poe's repatriation under RA No. 9225 did not result in her becoming a naturalized Filipino, but restored her status as a natural-born Philippine citizen. Repatriation is not an act to "acquire or perfect one's citizenship" nor does the Constitution require the natural-born status to be continuous from birth.[28]

A.2. The ponencia on Poe's residency

The ponencia ruled that the COMELEC gravely erred on the residency issue when it blindly applied the ruling in Coquilla, Japzon, and Caballero reckoning the period of residence of former natural-born Philippine citizens only from the date of reacquisition of Philippine citizenship, and relied solely in her statement in her 2012 CoC as to the period of her residence in the Philippines. The COMELEC reached these conclusions by disregarding the import of the various pieces of evidence Poe presented establishing her animus manendi and animus non-revertendi.[29]

Poe, in fact, had shown more than sufficient evidence that she established her Philippine residence even before repatriation. The cases of Coquilla, Japzon, Caballero, and Reyes are not applicable to Poe's case because in these cases, the candidate whose residency qualification was questioned presented "sparse evidence"[30] on residence which gave the Court no choice but to hold that residence could only be counted from the acquisition of a permanent resident visa or from reacquisition of Philippine citizenship. Under this reasoning, Poe showed overwhelming evidence that she decided to permanently relocate to the Philippines on May 24, 2005, or before repatriation.[31]

J. Leanen, on this point, added that the COMELEC's dogmatic reliance on formal preconceived indicators has been repeatedly decried by the Court as grave abuse of discretion. Worse, the COMELEC relied on the wrong formal indicators of residence.[32]

As the ponencia did, J. Leanen stressed that the COMELEC disregarded Poe's evidence of re-establishment of Philippine residence prior to July 2006 when it merely invoked Poe's status as one who had not reacquired Philippine citizenship. To him, the COMELEC relied on a manifestly faulty premise to justify the position that all of Poe's evidence before July 2006 deserved no consideration.[33]

Second, Poe may re-establish her residence notwithstanding that she carried a balikbayan visa in entering the Philippines. The one year visa-free period allows a balikbayan to re-establish his or her life and to reintegrate himself or herself into the community before attending to the formal and legal requirements of repatriation. There is no overriding intent under the balikbayan program to treat balikbayans as temporary visitors who must leave after one year.[34]

Third, Poe committed an honest mistake in her 2012 CoC declaration on her residence period.[35] Following jurisprudence, it is the fact of residence and not the statement in a CoC which is decisive in determining whether the residency requirement has been satisfied. The COMELEC, in fact, acknowledged that the query on the period of residence in the CoC form for the May 2013 elections was vague; thus. it changed the phrasing of this query in the current CoC form for the May 9, 2016 elections. It was grave abuse of discretion for the COMELEC to treat the 2012 CoC as binding and conclusive admission against Poe.

Fourth, assuming that Poe's residency statement in her 2015 CoC is erroneous, Poe had no deliberate intent to mislead or to hide a fact as shown by her immediate disclosure in public of her mistake in the stated period of residence in her 2012 CoC for Senator.[36]

PART B

SPECIFIC REFUTATION OF THE PONENCIA'S OUTSTANDING ERRORS

My original Separate Concurring Opinion (to the original ponencia of Justice Mariano del Castillo) deals with most, if not all, of the positions that the majority has taken. My Separate Concurring Opinion is quoted almost in full below (with some edits for completeness) as my detailed refutation of the ponencia.

Nevertheless, I have incorporated Part B in this Opinion to address the ponencia's more egregious claims that, unless refuted, would drastically change the constitutional and jurisprudential landscape in this country, in order only to justify the candidacy of one popular candidate. As I repeated often enough in my Separate Concurring Opinion, the Court operates outside of its depth and could possibly succeed in drowning this nation if it adds to, detracts from, negates, enlarges or modifies the terms of the Constitution as approved by the sovereign people of the Philippines.

B.1. The ponencia on the Comelec's lack of jurisdiction

The ponencia presented two arguments in concluding that the COMELEC lacked the jurisdiction to determine Poe's eligibility to become President in the course of a section 78 proceeding against her:

First, Article IX-C of the 1987 Constitution on the COMELEC's jurisdiction had no specific provision regarding the qualification of the President, Vice President, Senators and Members of the House of Representatives, while Article VI, Section 17 and Article VII, Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution specifically included contest involving the qualifications of Senators and Members of the House of Representatives, and of the President and Vice-President, to the jurisdiction of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET), the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) and the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) respectively.[37]

Second, Fermin v. Comelec,[38] citing the Separate Opinion of Justice Vicente V. Mendoza in Romualdez-Marcos v. Comelec,[39] noted that "the lack of provision for declaring the ineligibility of candidates, however, cannot be supplied by a mere rule."[40] This view was adopted in the revision of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure in 2012, as reflected in the changes made in the 2012 Rules from the 1993 Rules of Procedure,[41] as follows:

1993 Rules of Procedure:

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.

2012 Rules of Procedure:

Rule 25, Section 1. Grounds, - Any candidate who, in an action or protest in which he is a party, is declared by final decision of a competent court, guilty of, or found by the Commission to be suffering from any disqualification provided by law or the Constitution.

A Petition to Disqualify a Candidate invoking grounds for a Petition to Deny or to cancel a Certificate of Candidacy or Petition to Declare a Candidate as a Nuisance Candidate, or a combination thereof, shall be summarily dismissed.

The ponencia read Fermin and the 2012 Rules of Procedure to mean that there is no authorized proceeding to determine the qualifications of a candidate before the candidate is elected. To disqualify a candidate, there must be a declaration by a final judgment of a competent court that the candidate sought to be disqualified "is guilty of or found by the Commission to be suffering from any disqualification provided by law or the Constitution."[42]

Thus, the ponencia held that a certificate of candidacy "cannot be cancelled or denied due course on grounds of false representations regarding his or her qualifications without a prior authoritative finding that he or she is not qualified, such prior authority being the necessary measure by which the falsity of the representation can be found. The only exception that can be conceded are self-evident facts of unquestioned or unquestionable veracity and judicial confessions."[43]

The arguments in my original Separate Concurring Opinion regarding the COMELEC's jurisdiction to rule on Section 78 cases address the ponencia 's arguments, as follows:

a) The COMELEC's quasi-judicial power in resolving a Section 78 proceeding includes the determination of whether a candidate has made a false material representation in his CoC, and the determination of whether the eligibility he represented in his CoC is true.

b) In Tecson v. COMELEC"[44] the Court has recognized the COMELEC's jurisdiction in a Section 78 proceeding over a presidential candidate.

c) Fermin's quotation of Justice Mendoza's Separate Opinion in Romualdez-Marcos should be taken in context, as Fermin itself clarified:

Lest it be misunderstood, the denial of due course to or the cancellation of the CoC is not based on the lack of qualifications but on a finding that the candidate made a material representation that is false, which may relate to the qualifications required of the public office he/she is running for. It is noted that the candidate states in his/her CoC that he/she is eligible for the office he/she seeks. Section 78 of the OEC, therefore, is to be read in relation to the constitutional and statutory provisions on qualifications or eligibility for public office. If the candidate subsequently states a material representation in the CoC that is false, the COMELEC, following the law, is empowered to deny due course to or cancel such certificate. Indeed, the Court has already likened a proceeding under Section 78 to a quo warranto proceeding under Section 253 of the OEC since they both deal with the eligibility or qualification of a candidate, with the distinction mainly in the fact that a "Section 78" petition is filed before proclamation, while a petition for quo warranto is filed after proclamation of the winning candidate.[45] [underscoring supplied]

Aside from these arguments, I point out that:

d) The ponente's conclusion contradicts his own recent affirmation of the COMELEC's jurisdiction to determine the eligibility of a candidate through a Section 78 proceeding in Ongsiako Reyes v. COMELEC (G.R. No. 207264, June 25, 2013) and in Cerafica v. COMELEC (G.R. No. 205136 December 2, 2014).

In Ongsiako-Reyes v. COMELEC, the Court, speaking through J. Perez, affirmed the COMELEC's cancellation of Ongsiako-Reyes' CoC and affirmed its determination that Ongsiako-Reyes is neither a Philippine citizen nor a resident of Marinduque.

The Court even affirmed the COMELEC's capability to liberally construe its own rules of procedure in response to Ongsiako-Reyes' allegation that the COMELEC gravely abused its discretion in admitting newly-discovered evidence that had not been testified on, offered and admitted in evidence. The Court held:

All in all, considering that the petition for denial and cancellation of the CoC is summary in nature, the COMELEC is given much discretion in the evaluation and admission of evidence pursuant to its principal objective of determining of whether or not the CoC should be cancelled. We held in Mastura v. COMELEC:

The rule that factual findings of administrative bodies will not be disturbed by courts of justice except when there is absolutely no evidence or no substantial evidence in support of such findings should be applied with greater force when it concerns the COMELEC, as the framers of the Constitution intended to place the COMELEC - created and explicitly made independent by the Constitution itself - on a level higher than statutory administrative organs. The COMELEC has broad powers to ascertain the true results of the election by means available to it. For the attainment of that end, it is not strictly bound by the rules of evidence.[46] [emphasis, italics and underscoring supplied]

In Cerafica, the Court, again speaking through J. Perez, held that the COMELEC gravely abused its discretion in holding that Kimberly Cerafica (a candidate for councilor) did not file a valid CoC and subsequently cannot be substituted by Olivia Cerafica. Kimberly's CoC is considered valid unless the contents therein (including her eligibility) is impugned through a Section 78 proceeding. As Kimberly's CoC had not undergone a Section 78 proceeding, then her CoC remained valid and she could be properly substituted by Olivia. In so doing, the Court quoted and reaffirmed its previous ruling in Luna v. COMELEC:[47]

"If Hans Roger made a material misrepresentation as to his date of birth or age in his certificate of candidacy, his eligibility may only be impugned through a verified petition to deny due course to or cancel such certificate of candidacy under Section 78 of the Election Code."[48] [italics supplied]

e) The ponencia's conclusion would wreak havoc on existing jurisprudence recognizing the COMELEC's jurisdiction to determine a candidate's eligibility in the course of deciding a Section 78 proceeding before it.

The ponencia disregarded the following cases where it recognized the COMELEC's jurisdiction to determine eligibility as part of determining false material representation in a candidate's CoC. Cases involving Section 78 since the year 2012 (the year the COMELEC amended its Rules of Procedure) are shown in the table below:

Case

Ponente , Division

Ruling:

Aratea v. Comelec
C.R. No. 195229
October 9, 2012

Carpio, J. En banc

The Court affirmed the Comelec's determination that Lonzanida has served for three terms already and therefore misrepresented his eligibility to run for office; this, according to the Court, is a ground for cancelling Lonzanida's CoC under Section 78.

Maquiling V. Comelec, G.R. No. 195649, April 16, 2013

Sereno, CJ, En banc

The Court reversed the Comelec's determination of the Arnado's qualification to run for office because of a recanted oath of allegiance, and thus cancelled his Coe and proclaimed Maquiling as the winner. The Court, in reviewing the Comelec's determination, did not dispute its capacity to determine Arnado's qualifications.

Ongsiako Reyes v. Comelec, G.R. No. 207264, June 25, 2013

Perez, J., En Banc

The Court affirmed the Comelec's evaluation and determination that Ongsiako-Reyes is not a Philippine citizen and a resident of the Philippines.

It even upheld the Comelec's cognizance of "newly-discovered evidence" and held that the Comelec can liberally construe its own rules of procedure for the speedy disposition of cases before it.

Cerafica v. Comelec, G.R. No. 205136 December 2, 2014

Perez, J. En Banc Decision

The Court held that the Comelec gravely abused its discretion in holding that Kimberly did not file a valid CoC and subsequently cannot be substituted by Olivia; in so doing, the Court quoted and reaffirmed its previous ruling in Luna v Comelec, thus:

"If Hans Roger made a material misrepresentation as to his date of birth or age in his certificate of candidacy, his eligibility may only be impugned through a verified petition to deny due course to or cancel such certificate of candidacy under Section 78 of the Election Code."

Luna v. Comelec, G.R. No. 165983 April 24, 2007 (cited as reference to its affirmation in Cerafrica)

Carpio, J. En Banc

Since Hans Roger withdrew his certificate of candidacy and the COMELEC found that Luna complied with all the procedural requirements for a valid substitution, Luna can validly substitute for Hans Roger.

xxx

If Hans Roger made a material misrepresentation as to his date of birth or age in his certificate of candidacy, his eligibility may only be impugned through a verified petition to deny due course to or cancel such certificate of candidacy under Section 78 of the Election Code.

In this case, there was no petition to deny due course to or cancel the certificate of candidacy of Hans Roger. The COMELEC only declared that Hans Roger did not file a valid certificate of candidacy and, thus, was not a valid candidate in the petition to deny due course to or cancel Luna's certificate of candidacy. In effect, the COMELEC, without the proper proceedings, cancelled Hans Roger's certificate of candidacy and declared the substitution by Luna invalid.


f) Rules 23 of the 2012 COMELEC Rules of Procedure does not limit the COMELEC's jurisdiction in determining the eligibility of a candidate in the course of ruling on a Section 78 proceeding.

The second paragraph in Rule 23 delineates the distinction between a Section 78 ca ncellation proceeding and a Section 68 disqualification proceeding; to avoid the muddling or mixing of the grounds for each remedy, the COMELEC opted to provide that petitions that combine or substitute one remedy for the other shall be dismissed summarily.

Naturally, the text of this second paragraph also appears in Rule 25, which provides for the grounds for a petition for disqualification.

Rule 23 provides:
Section 1. Ground for Denial or Cancellation of Certifcate of Candidacy. -

A verified Petition to Deny Due Course to or Cancel a Certificate of Candidacy for any elective office may be filed by any registered voter or a duly registered political party, organization, or coalition of political parties on the exclusive ground that any material representation contained therein as required by law is false.

A Petition to Deny Due Course to or Cancel Certificate of Candidacy invoking grounds other than those stated above or grounds for disqualification, or combining grounds for a separate remedy, shall be summarily dismissed;
Thus, Rule 23 recognizes material misrepresentation in the CoC as the sole ground for Section 78 without amending the definition of false material representation that jurisprudence has provided as early as 1999 in Salcedo II v. COMELEC:[49]
The only difference between the two proceedings is that, under section 78, the qualifications for elective office are misrepresented in the certificate of candidacy and the proceedings must be initiated before the elections, whereas a petition for quo warranto under section 253 may be brought on the basis of two grounds - (1) ineligibility or (2) disloyalty to the Republic of the Philippines, and must be initiated within ten days after the proclamation of the election results. Under section 253, a candidate is ineligible if he is disqualified to be elected to office,[21] and he is disqualified if he lacks any of the qualifications for elective office.

xxxx

Therefore, it may be concluded that the material misrepresentation contemplated by section 78 of the Code refer to qualifications for elective office. This conclusion is strengthened by the fact that the consequences imposed upon a candidate guilty of having made a false representation in his certificate of candidacy are grave to prevent the candidate from running or, if elected, from serving, or to prosecute him for violation of the election laws.[23] It could not have been the intention of the law to deprive a person of such a basic and substantive political right to be voted for a public office upon just any innocuous mistake:

x x x x

Aside from the requirement of materiality, a false representation under section 78 must consist of a deliberate attempt to mislead, misinform, or hide a fact which would otherwise render a candidate ineligible.[25] In other words, it must be made with an intention to deceive the electorate as to ones qualifications for public office. xxx
B.1.a. Effect of the ponencia's misinterpretation of
Section 78 proceedings to the Court's certiorari
jurisdiction over the present case


If we were to follow the ponencia's limitation on the COMELEC's function to determine Poe's eligibility to become President in a Section 78 proceeding, the logical result would be that even this Court itself cannot rule on Poe's citizenship and residence eligibilities in the course of reviewing a Section 78 COMELEC ruling; any declaration regarding these issues would be obiter dictum.

In practical terms, the Court's ruling only assured Poe the chance to run; conceivably, if she wins, the Court, through the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, will then rule that the people have spoken and that they cannot be denied their voice after the elections. Based on the present circumstances, this is a scenario that cannot be entirely ruled out.

To reiterate, the ponencia declared that the COMELEC has no jurisdiction to determine, even preliminarily, the eligibility of candidates prior to an election under a Section 78 proceeding, except for disqualifications already or previously acted upon by the proper authorities or where the facts are self-evident or of unquestioned or unquestionable veracity from which the falsity of representation could readily be determined.

Since the COMELEC lacks jurisdiction "to rule and cannot even preliminarily determine questions of eligibility, then the issues involving the COMELEC's alleged grave abuse of discretion in ruling on Poe's eligibilities cannot effectively be resolved except through a ruling that, given the lack of authority, it was grave abuse of discretion for COMELEC to rule as it did. And given the same lack of authority, the reversal of the cancellation of her CoC must follow as a consequence. Thus, her CoC effectively remains valid.

The consequence of ruling that the COMELEC is without jurisdiction to determine eligibility as part of a Section 78 proceeding is that any other subsequent discussions by this Court upholding Poe's eligibilities would be obiter dicta, or pronouncements that are not essential to the resolution of a case. With the COMELEC stripped of the jurisdiction to determine, even preliminarily, Poe's citizenship and residence, then its determinations are null and void, leading to the further conclusion that this Court no longer has any issue left to review and to decide upon as neither would it be necessary to determine Poe's eligibilities.

In other words, any pronouncements outside the COMELEC's limited jurisdiction in Section 78 would only be expressions of the COMELEC's opinion and would have no effect in the determination of the merits of the Section 78 case before it. Findings of ineligibility outside of the limits do not need to be resolved or even be touched by this Court. Thus, in the present case, Poe can simply be a candidate for the presidency, with her eligibilities open to post-election questions, if still necessary at that point.

B.1.b. Aruego's account of the deliberations,
as cited in the ponencia


Ironically, the ponencia's citation of Jose M. Aruego's recounting of the deliberations even reinforces my position that the framers never intended to include foundlings within the terms of the 1935 Constitution's parentage provisions. Aruego allegedly said:
During the debates on this provision, Delegate Rafols presented an amendment to include as Filipino citizens the illegitimate children with a foreign father of a mother who was a citizen of the Philippines, and also foundlings; but this amendment was defeated primarily because the Convention believed that the cases, being too few to warrant the inclusion of a provision in the Constitution to apply to them, should be governed by statutory legislation. Moreover, it was believed that the rules of international law were already clear to the effect that illegitimate children followed the citizenship of the mother, and that foundlings followed the nationality of the place where they were found, thereby making unnecessary the inclusion in the Constitution of the proposed amendment.[50]
Aruego's account of the deliberations reinforces my position for the following reasons:

First, Aruego said that "this amendment was defeated primarily because the Convention believed that the cases, being too few to warrant the inclusion of a provision in the Constitution to apply to them, should be governed by statutory legislation."

In saying this, Aruego also recounted that many, if not most, of the majority of those who voted against the inclusion of foundlings in the 1935 Constitution believed that the matter of their citizenship should be governed by statutory legislation because the cases of foundlings are too few to be included in the Constitution.

Thus, the principle of international law on foundlings is merely supportive of the primary reason that the matter should be governed by statute, or is a secondary reason to the majority's decision not to include foundlings in Article IV, Section 1 of the 1935 Constitution.

Notably, both the text of the deliberations of the 1934 Constitutional Convention and the account of its member Jose Aruego do not disclose that the intent behind the non-inclusion of foundlings in Article IV, Section 1 of the 1935 Constitution was because they are deemed already included.

What deliberations show is that a member of the Convention thought that it would be better for a statute to govern the citizenship of foundlings, which Aruego, in his subsequent retelling of what happened in the deliberations, described as the primary belief of the majority. At the very least, there was no clear agreement that foundlings were intended to be part of Article IV, Section 1.

The ponencia's ruling thus does not only disregard the distinction of citizenship based on the father or the mother under the 1935 Constitution; it also misreads what the records signify and thereby unfairly treats the children of Filipino mothers under the 1935 Constitution who, although able to trace their Filipino parentage, must yield to the higher categorization accorded to foundlings who do not enjoy similar roots.

Another drastic change appears to be coming for no clear and convincing legal reason in the present case: Section 78 would now be emasculated despite established rulings by this very Court on what the COMELEC can undertake within its Section 78 jurisdiction.

A close reading of Ongsiako-Reyes v. COMELEC, also penned by J. Perez as above noted, will show that the issues the COMELEC decided there were practically the same issues in this cited case. Yet, the Court's majority in the present case holds that the COMELEC has no jurisdiction to rule on the issues of a candidate's citizenship and residence requirements in the course of a Section 78 proceeding, despite its previous affirmation of the same COMELEC power in Ongsiako-Reyes also in a Section 78 proceeding. Have established precedents been sacrificed to achieve desired results?

But the worst impact yet on the Constitution is the discovery that this Court can play around even with the express wordings of the Constitution. While this may already be known to those in the legal profession, the reality becomes glaring and may be a new discovery for the general public because of the recent EDCA case; the present case and ruling may very well be considered another instance of judicial tinkering with the express terms of the Constitution.


B.1.c. Burden of Proof.


A contested issue that surfaced early on in these cases is the question: who carries the burden of proving that the petitioner is a natural-born Philippine citizen?

Lest we be distracted by the substance of this question, let me clarify at the outset that the cases before us are petitions for certiorari under Rule 64 (in relation to Rule 65) of the Rules of Court. In these types of petitions, the petitioner challenges the rulings/s made by the respondent pursuant to Article VIII, Section 1 of the Constitution. Thus, it is the petitioner who carries the burden of showing that the respondent, the COMELEC in this case, committed grave abuse of discretion.

Of course, in making the challenged ruling, the COMELEC had a wider view and had to consider the parties' respective situations at the outset. The present private respondents were the petitioners who sought the cancellation of Poe's CoC and who thereby procedurally carried the burden of proving the claim that Poe falsely represented her citizenship and residency qualifications in her CoC.

I would refer to this as the procedural aspect of the burden of proof issue. The original petitioners before the COMELEC (the respondents in the present petitions) - from the perspective of procedure - carried the burden under its Section 78 cancellation of CoC petition, to prove that Poe made false material representations; she claimed in her CoC that she is a natural-born Filipino citizen when she is not; she also claimed that she has resided in the Philippines for ten years immediately preceding the May 9, 2016 elections, when she had not. The original petitioners had to prove what they claimed to be false representations.

Thus viewed, the main issue in the case below was the false material representation, which essentially rested on the premises of citizenship and residence - is Poe a natural-born citizen as she claimed and had she observed the requisite qualifying period of residence?

The original petitioners undertook the task on the citizenship issue by alleging that Poe is a foundling; as such, her parents are unknown, so that she is not a Philippine citizen under the terms of the 1935 Constitution.

Poe responded by admitting that indeed she is a foundling, but claimed that the burden is on the original petitioners to prove that she is in fact a foreigner through proof that her parents are foreigners.

Since Poe indeed could not factually show that either of her parents is a Philippine citizen, the COMELEC concluded that the original petitioners are correct in their position that they have discharged their original burden to prove that Poe is not a natural-born citizen of the Philippines. To arrive at its conclusion, the COMELEC considered and relied on the terms of the 1935 Constitution.

With this original burden discharged, the burden of evidence then shifted to Poe to prove that despite her admission that she is a foundling, she is in fact a natural-born Filipino, either by evidence (not necessarily or solely DNA in character) and by legal arguments supporting the view that a foundling found in the Philippines is a natural-born citizen.

The same process was repeated with respect to the residency issue, after which, the COMELEC ruled that Poe committed false representations as, indeed, she is not a natural-born Philippine citizen and had not resided in the country, both as required by the Constitution.

These were the processes and developments at the COMELEC level, based on which the present Court majority now say that the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion for not observing the rules on the burden of proof on the citizenship and the residency issues.

Separately from the strictly procedural aspects of the cancellation of CoC proceedings, it must be considered that the petitioner, by filing a CoC, actively represents that she possesses all the qualifications and none of the disqualifications for the office she is running for.

When this representation is questioned, particularly through proof of being a foundling as in the present case, the burden should rest on the present petitioner to prove that she is a natural-born Philippine citizen, a resident of the Philippines for at least ten years immediately prior to the election, able to read and write, at least forty years of age on the day of the election, and a registered voter. This is the opportunity that the COMELEC gave Poe to the fullest, and I see no question of grave abuse of discretion on this basis.

From the substantive perspective, too, a sovereign State has the right to determine who its citizens are.[51] By conferring citizenship on a person, the State obligates itself to grant and protect the person's rights. In this light and as discussed more fully below, the list of Filipino citizens under the Constitution must be read as exclusive and exhaustive.

Thus, this Court has held that any doubt regarding citizenship must be resolved in favor of the State.[52] In other words, citizenship cannot be presumed; the person who claims Filipino citizenship must prove that he or she is in fact a Filipino.[53] It is only upon proper proof that a claimant can be entitled to the rights granted by the State.[54]

This was the Court's ruling in Paa v. Chan[55] where this Court categorically ruled that it is incumbent upon the person who claims Philippine citizenship, to prove to the satisfaction of the court that he is really a Filipino. This should be true particularly after proof that the claimant has not proven (and even admits the lack of proven) Filipino parentage. 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.

The Court further explained that the exercise by a person of the rights and/or privileges that are granted to Philippine citizens is not conclusive proof that he or she is a Philippine citizen. A person, otherwise disqualified by reason of citizenship, may exercise and enjoy the right or privilege of a Philippine citizen by representing himself to be one.[56]

Based on these considerations, the Court majority's ruling on burden of proof at the COMELEC level appears to be misplaced. On both counts, procedural and substantive (based on settled jurisprudence), the COMELEC closely hewed to the legal requirements. Thus, the Court majority's positions on where and how the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion are truly puzzling. With no grave abuse at the COMELEC level, the present petitioner's own burden of proof in the present certiorari proceedings before this Court must necessarily fail.

PART C