447 Phil. 230
“The petitioner, Alfonso Chan Choa, has not yet finished testifying on direct-examination. Although the petitioner has not stated in his said ‘Motion To Withdraw Petition’ the reason why he is withdrawing his petition at this stage of the proceedings, the petitioner can not be compelled to continue with his petition for naturalization.Meanwhile, on August 5, 1992, State Prosecutor Pedro D. Delfin on detail at Bacolod City, acting upon the complaint of petitioner’s wife, Leni, filed an Information with the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC), Branch 3, Bacolod City, charging petitioner with perjury under Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code, docketed as Criminal Case No. 50322. The Information reads:
“In view thereof, the petitioner, Alfonso Chan Choa, is allowed to withdraw his petition for naturalization.
“That on or about 30th day of March, 1989, in the City of Bacolod, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the herein accused did then and there, willfully, unlawfully, feloniously and knowingly made untruthful statements or falsehoods upon material matters required by the Revised Naturalization Law (C.A. No. 473) in his verified ‘Petition for Naturalization’ dated April 13, 1989 (sic), subscribed and sworn to before Notary Public Felomino B. Tan, Jr., who is authorized to administer oath, which petition bears Doc. No. 140, Page No. 29, Book No. XXIII, series of 1989, in the Notarial Register of said Notary Public, by stating therein the following, to wit:Upon arraignment, petitioner entered a plea of not guilty. Trial ensued thereafter.‘5.) I am married to a Filipino. My wife’s name is Leni Ong Choa and now resides at 46 Malaspina Street, Bacolod City. I have two (2) children whose names, dates and places of birth, and residence are as follows:when in truth and in fact, said accused knew that his wife Leni Ong Choa and their two (2) children were not then residing at said address at # 46 Malaspina Street, Villamonte, Bacolod City, having left the aforesaid residence in 1984, or about five (5) years earlier and were then residing at Hervias Subdivision, Bacolod City; that contrary to his aforesaid allegation in his verified Petition for Naturalization, accused, while residing at 211 106 Street, Greenplains Subdivision, Bacolod City, has been carrying on an immoral and illicit relationship with one Stella Flores Saludar, a woman not his wife since 1984, and begetting two (2) children with her as a consequence, as he and his wife, the private offended party herein, have long been separated from bed and board since 1984; which falsehoods and/or immoral and improper conduct are grounds for disqualification to become a citizen of the Philippines.
Name Date of Birth Place of Birth Residence
July 19, 1981 Bacolod City 46 Malaspina St.,
May 5, 1983 Bacolod City 46 Malaspina St.,
x x x x x x x x x
‘10) I am of good moral character, I believe in the principles underlying the Philippine Constitution. I have conducted myself in a proper and irreproachable manner during the entire period of my residence in the Philippines in my relations with the constituted government as well as with the community in which I am living.’x x x x x x x x x
“Act contrary to law.”
“FOR ALL THE FOREGOING, this Court finds the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the offense which he is presently charged, and there being no aggravating or mitigating circumstances that may be considered, the accused is sentenced to suffer the penalty of six (6) months and one (1) day of prision correccional and to pay the costs.”Petitioner filed a motion for a reconsideration, contending, among others, that there is no basis to convict him of perjury because almost two years prior to the filing of the Information, his motion to withdraw the petition for naturalization containing the alleged false statements was granted by the MTCC, hence, the alleged false statements were no longer existing or had become functus officio.
“WHEREFORE, finding the appealed decision of the Regional Trial Court to be in accordance with law and evidence, we AFFIRM the same with the modification that petitioner-accused-appellant Alfonso Choa is sentenced to suffer imprisonment, after applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law without any aggravating or mitigating circumstance, for a period of three (3) months of arresto mayor, to one (1) year and eight (8) months of prision correccional.In convicting petitioner, the Appellate Court adopted as its own the RTC’s findings as follows:
“Evidence presented clearly proved that all the above-enumerated elements (of perjury) have been duly executed by the accused. His allegations in his petition regarding his, his wife’s and children’s residences and his positive averment of the fact that he is of good moral character and had conducted himself in an irreproachable manner during his stay in the Philippines are material matters in connection with his petition for naturalization as they are essential facts required by Sec. 7 of C.A. No. 473 for one to fulfill for the acquisition of Philippine citizenship. They are the very facts which would be the subject of inquiry by the court hearing the petition and the same would be the basis of the court’s ruling whether one is qualified and granted Philippine citizenship.Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration but it was denied by the Court of Appeals in a Resolution dated February 22, 2000.
“Paragraph 2 of Art. 183 of the Revised Penal Code provides that the statement or affidavit is to be made before a competent officer, authorized to receive and administer oath. The information shows that the statement was duly subscribed and sworn to before Notary Public Felomino B. Tan, Jr., a person competent and authorized by law to receive and administer oath and the same was entered in his notary register as Doc. No. 140, Page No. 29, Book No. XXIII, Series of 1989.
“That the accused made a willful and deliberate assertion of falsehood could be gleaned from the discrepancies in his given addresses. In his petition for naturalization he gave No. 46 Malaspina Street, Villamonte, Bacolod City as his and his wife’s residence, while in the birth certificates and the affidavit of admission of paternity of both Fonsella Kae Saludar and Steve Albert Saludar, he gave No. 211, 106 Street, Greenplains Subdivision, Bacolod City as his address besides from the fact that while may have been residing in the above-stated addresses, his wife and children have been staying at Hervias Subdivision, Bacolod City since the latter part of 1984. Furthermore, cohabiting openly with another woman not his wife and siring (2) children with the same, in open defiance with the norm of morality of the community where monogamy is the accepted practice, is very inconsistent with his allegations of a moral life, proper and irreproachable, considering that the accused, by his own admission is a graduate of the University of St. La Salle, a school known for its high academic and moral standards. These assertions are not only willful and deliberate but a perversion of truth which the law is mandated to punish.
“Section 7 of C.A. 473 provides:‘Any person desiring to acquire Philippine citizenship shall file with the competent Court, a petition in triplicate, accompanied by two (2) photographs of the petitioner, setting forth his name and surname; his present and former residence, his occupation; the place and date of his birth, whether single or married, the name, age, birthplace and residence of the wife and each of the children…x x x.’ (underscoring supplied)“The above-cited provisions are the pertinent law which specifically requires any person desiring to acquire Philippine citizenship to accomplish, thus complying with the fourth element of the crime of perjury. (pp. 119-120, Original Records, Vol. II)”
“Art. 183. False testimony in other cases and perjury in solemn affirmation. – The penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period shall be imposed upon any person who, knowingly making untruthful statements and not being included in the provisions of the next preceding articles, shall testify under oath, or make an affidavit, upon any material matter before a competent person authorized to administer an oath in cases in which the law so requires.The elements of perjury are:
“Any person who, in case of a solemn affirmation made in lieu of an oath, shall commit any of the falsehoods mentioned in this and the three preceding articles of this section, shall suffer the respective penalties provided therein.”
All these elements are present in the instant case. Petitioner willfully and deliberately alleged false statements concerning his "residence" and "moral character" in his petition for naturalization. This was sufficiently proven by the prosecution, as succinctly noted by the Court of Appeals in its assailed Decision.
- The accused made a statement under oath or executed an affidavit upon a material matter;
- The statement or affidavit was made before a competent officer authorized to receive and administer oath;
- In that statement or affidavit, the accused made a willful and deliberate assertion of a falsehood; and
- The sworn statement or affidavit containing the falsity is required by law or made for a legal purpose.
“SEC. 2. Qualifications. – Subject to section four of this Act, any person having the following qualifications may become a citizen of the Philippines by naturalization:The necessity of declaring a truthful and specific information on the "residence" and "moral character" in the petition for naturalization has been underscored by this Court in Chua Kian Lai vs. Republic, thus:x x x x x x x x x
"Third. He must be of good moral character and believes in the principles underlying the Philippine Constitution, and must have conducted himself in a proper and irreproachable manner during the entire period of his residence in the Philippines in his relation with the constituted government as well as with the community in which he is living;x x x x x x x x x
“SEC. 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; x x x; 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; x x x.” (Emphasis supplied)
“One qualification for Philippine citizenship is that the petitioner ‘must be of good moral character.’ That circumstance should be specifically alleged in the petition.Fully cognizant of the truth surrounding his moral character and residence, petitioner instead declared falsely in his verified petition for naturalization that "he has all the qualifications and none of the disqualification under C.A. No. 473." Clearly, he willfully asserted falsehood under oath on material matters required by law.x x x x x x x x x
“The law explicitly requires that the applicant should indicate in his petition ‘his present and former places of residence’ (Sec. 7, Com. Act No. 473). That requirement is designed to facilitate the verification of petitioner’s activities which have a bearing on his petition for naturalization, especially so as to his qualifications and moral character, either by private individuals or by investigative agencies of the government, by pointing to them the localities or places wherein appropriate inquiries may be made (Keng Giok vs. Republic, 112 Phil. 896). Moreover, the suppression of that information might constitute falsehood which signifies that the applicant lacks good moral character and is not, therefore, qualified to be admitted as a citizen of the Philippines.” (Emphasis supplied)