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PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

EN BANC

[G.R. No. 137000. August 9, 2000.]

CIRILO R. VALLES, Petitioner, v. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and ROSALIND YBASCO LOPEZ, Respondents.

D E C I S I O N


PURISIMA, J.:


This is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65, pursuant to Section 2, Rule 64 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, assailing Resolutions dated July 17, 1998 and January 15, 1999, respectively, of the Commission on Elections in SPA No. 98-336, dismissing the petition for disqualification filed by the herein petitioner, Cirilo R. Valles, against private respondent Rosalind Ybasco Lopez, in the May 1998 elections for governor of Davao Oriental.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

Rosalind Ybasco Lopez was born on May 16, 1934 in Napier Terrace, Broome, Western Australia, to the spouses, Telesforo Ybasco, a Filipino citizen and native of Daet, Camarines Norte, and Theresa Marquez, an Australian. In 1949, at the age of fifteen, she left Australia and came to settle in the Philippines.

On June 27, 1952, she was married to Leopoldo Lopez, a Filipino citizen, at the Malate Catholic Church in Manila. Since then, she has continuously participated in the electoral process not only as a voter but as a candidate, as well. She served as Provincial Board Member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Davao Oriental. In 1992, she ran for and was elected governor of Davao Oriental. Her election was contested by her opponent, Gil Taojo, Jr., in a petition for quo warranto, docketed as EPC No. 92-54, alleging as ground therefor her alleged Australian citizenship. However, finding no sufficient proof that respondent had renounced her Philippine citizenship, the Commission on Elections en banc dismissed the petition, ratiocinating thus:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"A cursory reading of the records of this case vis-a-vis the impugned resolution shows that respondent was able to produce documentary proofs of the Filipino citizenship of her late father . . . and consequently, prove her own citizenship and filiation by virtue of the Principle of Jus Sanguinis, the perorations of the petitioner to the contrary notwithstanding.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

On the other hand, except for the three (3) alleged important documents . . . no other evidence substantial in nature surfaced to confirm the allegations of petitioner that respondent is an Australian citizen and not a Filipino. Express renunciation of citizenship as a mode of losing citizenship under Commonwealth Act No. 63 is an equivocal and deliberate act with full awareness of its significance and consequence. The evidence adduced by petitioner are inadequate, nay meager, to prove that respondent contemplated renunciation of her Filipino citizenship." 1

In the 1995 local elections, respondent Rosalind Ybasco Lopez ran for re-election as governor of Davao Oriental. Her opponent, Francisco Rabat, filed a petition for disqualification, docketed as SPA No. 95-066 before the COMELEC, First Division, contesting her Filipino citizenship but the said petition was likewise dismissed by the COMELEC, reiterating substantially its decision in EPC 92-54.

The citizenship of private respondent was once again raised as an issue when she ran for re-election as governor of Davao Oriental in the May 11, 1998 elections. Her candidacy was questioned by the herein petitioner, Cirilo Valles, in SPA No. 98-336.chanrobles.com : red

On July 17, 1998, the COMELEC’s First Division came out with a Resolution dismissing the petition, and disposing as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"Assuming arguendo that res judicata does not apply and We are to dispose the instant case on the merits trying it de novo, the above table definitely shows that petitioner herein has presented no new evidence to disturb the Resolution of this Commission in SPA No. 95-066. The present petition merely restates the same matters and incidents already passed upon by this Commission not just in 1995 Resolution but likewise in the Resolution of EPC No. 92-54. Not having put forth any new evidence and matter substantial in nature, persuasive in character or sufficiently provocative to compel reversal of such Resolutions, the dismissal of the present petition follows as a matter of course.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

x       x       x


"WHEREFORE, premises considered and there being no new matters and issues tendered, We find no convincing reason or impressive explanation to disturb and reverse the Resolutions promulgated by this Commission in EPC 92-54 and SPA. 95-066. This Commission RESOLVES as it hereby RESOLVES to DISMISS the present petition.

SO ORDERED." 2

Petitioner interposed a motion for reconsideration of the aforesaid Resolution but to no avail. The same was denied by the COMELEC in its en banc Resolution of January 15, 1999.

Undaunted, petitioner found his way to this Court via the present petition; questioning the citizenship of private respondent Rosalind Ybasco Lopez.

The Commission on Elections ruled that private respondent Rosalind Ybasco Lopez is a Filipino citizen and therefore, qualified to run for a public office because (1) her father, Telesforo Ybasco, is a Filipino citizen, and by virtue of the principle of jus sanguinis she was a Filipino citizen under the 1987 Philippine Constitution; (2) she was married to a Filipino, thereby making her also a Filipino citizen ipso jure under Section 4 of Commonwealth Act 473; (3) and that, she renounced her Australian citizenship on January 15, 1992 before the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs of Australia and her Australian passport was accordingly cancelled as certified to by the Australian Embassy in Manila; and (4) furthermore, there are the COMELEC Resolutions in EPC No. 92-54 and SPA Case No. 95-066, declaring her a Filipino citizen duly qualified to run for the elective position of Davao Oriental governor.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

Petitioner, on the other hand, maintains that the private respondent is an Australian citizen, placing reliance on the admitted facts that:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

a) In 1988, private respondent registered herself with the Bureau of Immigration as an Australian national and was issued Alien Certificate of Registration No. 404695 dated September 19, 1988;chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

b) On even date, she applied for the issuance of an Immigrant Certificate of Residence (ICR); and

c) She was issued Australian Passport No. H700888 on March 3, 1988.

Petitioner theorizes that under the aforestated facts and circumstances, the private respondent had renounced her Filipino citizenship. He contends that in her application for alien certificate of registration and immigrant certificate of residence, private respondent expressly declared under oath that she was a citizen or subject of Australia; and said declaration forfeited her Philippine citizenship, and operated to disqualify her to run for elective office.

As regards the COMELEC’s finding that private respondent had renounced her Australian citizenship on January 15, 1992 before the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs of Australia and had her Australian passport cancelled on February 11, 1992, as certified to by the Australian Embassy here in Manila, petitioner argues that the said acts did not automatically restore the status of private respondent as a Filipino citizen. According to petitioner, for the private respondent to reacquire Philippine citizenship she must comply with the mandatory requirements for repatriation under Republic Act 8171; and the election of private respondent to public office did not mean the restoration of her Filipino citizenship since the private respondent was not legally repatriated. Coupled with her alleged renunciation of Australian citizenship, private respondent has effectively become a stateless person and as such, is disqualified to run for a public office in the Philippines; petitioner concluded.

Petitioner theorizes further that the Commission on Elections erred in applying the principle of res judicata to the case under consideration; citing the ruling in Moy Ya Lim Yao v. Commissioner of Immigration, 3 that:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

". . . Everytime the citizenship of a person is material or indispensable in a judicial or administrative case, whatever the corresponding court or administrative authority decides therein as to such citizenship is generally not considered as res adjudicata, hence it has to be threshed out again and again as the occasion may demand. . . ."cralaw virtua1aw library

The petition is unmeritorious.

The Philippine law on citizenship adheres to the principle of jus sanguinis. Thereunder, a child follows the nationality or citizenship of the parents regardless of the place of his/her birth, as opposed to the doctrine of jus soli which determines nationality or citizenship on the basis of place of birth.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

Private respondent Rosalind Ybasco Lopez was born on May 16, 1934 in Napier Terrace, Broome, Western Australia, to the spouses, Telesforo Ybasco, a Filipino citizen and native of Daet, Camarines Norte, and Theresa Marquez, an Australian. Historically, this was a year before the 1935 Constitution took into effect and at that time, what served as the Constitution of the Philippines were the principal organic acts by which the United States governed the country. These were the Philippine Bill of July 1, 1902 and the Philippine Autonomy Act of August 29, 1916, also known as the Jones Law.

Among others, these laws defined who were deemed to be citizens of the Philippine islands. The Philippine Bill of 1902 defined Philippine citizens as:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

SEC. 4. . . . all inhabitants of the Philippine Islands continuing to reside therein who were Spanish subjects on the eleventh day of April, eighteen hundred and ninety-nine, and then resided in the 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. (Emphasis ours)cralawred

The Jones Law, on the other hand, provides:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

SEC. 2. That all inhabitants of the Philippine Islands who were Spanish subjects on the eleventh day of April. eighteen hundred and ninety-nine. and then resided in said Islands. and their children born subsequent thereto. shall be deemed and held to be citizens of the Philippine Islands, except such as shall have elected to preserve their allegiance to the Crown of Spain in accordance with the provisions of the treaty of peace between the United States and Spain, signed at Paris December tenth, eighteen hundred and ninety-eight, and except such others as have since become citizens of some other country: Provided, That the Philippine Legislature, herein provided for, is hereby authorized to provide by law for the acquisition of Philippine citizenship by those natives of the Philippine Islands who cannot 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. (Emphasis ours)

Under both organic acts, all inhabitants of the Philippines who were Spanish subjects on April 11, 1899 and resided therein including their children are deemed to be Philippine citizens. Private respondent’s father, Telesforo Ybasco, was born on January 5, 1879 in Daet, Camarines Norte, a fact duly evidenced by a certified true copy of an entry in the Registry of Births. Thus, under the Philippine Bill of 1902 and the Jones Law, Telesforo Ybasco was deemed to be a Philippine citizen. By virtue of the same laws, which were the laws in force at the time of her birth, Telesforo’s daughter, herein private respondent Rosalind Ybasco Lopez, is likewise a citizen of the Philippines.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

The signing into law of the 1935 Philippine Constitution has established the principle of jus sanguinis as basis for the acquisition of Philippine citizenship, to wit:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

(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.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

So also, the principle of jus sanguinis, which confers citizenship by virtue of blood relationship, was subsequently retained under the 1973 4 and 1987 5 Constitutions. Thus, the herein private respondent, Rosalind Ybasco Lopez, is a Filipino citizen, having been born to a Filipino father. The fact of her being born in Australia is not tantamount to her losing her Philippine citizenship. If Australia follows the principle of jus soli, then at most, private respondent can also claim Australian citizenship resulting to her possession of dual citizenship.

Petitioner also contends that even on the assumption that the private respondent is a Filipino citizen, she has nonetheless renounced her Philippine citizenship. To buttress this contention, petitioner cited private respondent’s application for an Alien Certificate of Registration (ACR) and Immigrant Certificate of Residence (ICR), on September 19, 1988, and the issuance to her of an Australian passport on March 3, 1988.

Under Commonwealth Act No. 63, a Filipino citizen may lose his citizenship:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

(1) By naturalization in a foreign country;

(2) By express renunciation of citizenship;

(3) By subscribing to an oath of allegiance to support the constitution or laws of a foreign county upon attaining twenty-one years of age or more;

(4) By accepting commission in the military, naval or air service of a foreign country;

(5) By cancellation of the certificate of naturalization;chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

(6) By having been declared by competent authority, a deserter of the Philippine Armed forces in time of war, unless subsequently, a plenary pardon or amnesty has been granted; and

(7) In case of a woman, upon her manage, to a foreigner if, by virtue of the laws in force in her husband’s country, she acquires his nationality.

In order that citizenship may be lost by renunciation, such renunciation must be express. Petitioner’s contention that the application of private respondent for an alien certificate of registration, and her Australian passport, is bereft of merit. This issue was put to rest in the case of Aznar v. COMELEC 6 and in the more recent case of Mercado v. Manzano and COMELEC. 7

In the case of Aznar, the Court ruled that the mere fact that respondent Osmena was a holder of a certificate stating that he is an American did not mean that he is no longer a Filipino, and that an application for an alien certificate of registration was not tantamount to renunciation of his Philippine citizenship.

And, in Mercado v. Manzano and COMELEC, it was held that the fact that respondent Manzano was registered as an American citizen in the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation and was holding an American passport on April 22, 1997, only a year before he filed a certificate of candidacy for vice-mayor of Makati, were just assertions of his American nationality before the termination of his American citizenship.cralaw : red

Thus, the mere fact that private respondent Rosalind Ybasco Lopez was a holder of an Australian passport and had an alien certificate of registration are not acts constituting an effective renunciation of citizenship and do not militate against her claim of Filipino citizenship. For renunciation to effectively result in the loss of citizenship, the same must be express. 8 As held by this court in the aforecited case of Aznar, an application for an alien certificate of registration does not amount to an express renunciation or repudiation of one’s citizenship. The application of the herein private respondent for an alien certificate of registration, and her holding of an Australian passport, as in the case of Mercado v. Manzano, were mere acts of assertion of her Australian citizenship before she effectively renounced the same. Thus, at the most, private respondent had dual citizenship — she was an Australian and a Filipino, as well.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

Moreover, under Commonwealth Act 63, the fact that a child of Filipino parents was born in another country has not been included as a ground for losing one’s Philippine citizenship. Since private respondent did not lose or renounce her Philippine citizenship, petitioner’s claim that respondent must go through the process of repatriation does not hold water.

Petitioner also maintains that even on the assumption that the private respondent had dual citizenship, still, she is disqualified to run for governor of Davao Oriental; citing Section 40 of Republic Act 7160 otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991, which states:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"SEC. 40. Disqualifications. — The following persons are disqualified from running for any elective local position:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

x       x       x


(d) Those with dual citizenship;

x       x       x


Again, petitioner’s contention is untenable.

In the aforecited case of Mercado v. Manzano, the Court clarified "dual citizenship" as used in the Local Government Code and reconciled the same with Article IV, Section 5 of the 1987 Constitution on dual allegiance. 9 Recognizing situations in which a Filipino citizen may, without performing any act, and as an involuntary consequence of the conflicting laws of different countries, be also a citizen of another state, the Court explained that dual citizenship as a disqualification must refer to citizens with dual allegiance. The Court succinctly pronounced:chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

". . . the phrase ‘dual citizenship’ in R.A. No. 7160, ... 40 (d) and in R.A. No. 7854, . . . 20 must be understood as referring to ‘dual allegiance’. Consequently, persons with mere dual citizenship do not fall under this disqualification."cralaw virtua1aw library

Thus, the fact that the private respondent had dual citizenship did not automatically disqualify her from running for a public office. Furthermore, it was ruled that for candidates with dual citizenship, it is enough that they elect Philippine citizenship upon the filing of their certificate of candidacy, to terminate their status as persons with dual citizenship. 10 The filing of a certificate of candidacy sufficed to renounce foreign citizenship, effectively removing any disqualification as a dual citizen. 11 This is so because in the certificate of candidacy, one declares that he/she is a Filipino citizen and that he/she will support and defend the Constitution of the Philippines and will maintain true faith and allegiance thereto. Such declaration, which is under oath, operates as an effective renunciation of foreign citizenship. Therefore, when the herein private respondent filed her certificate of candidacy in 1992, such fact alone terminated her Australian citizenship.cralaw : red

Then, too, it is significant to note that on January 15, 1992, private respondent executed a Declaration of Renunciation of Australian Citizenship, duly registered in the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs of Australia on May 12, 1992. And, as a result, on February 11, 1992, the Australian passport of private respondent was cancelled, as certified to by Second Secretary Richard F. Munro of the Embassy of Australia in Manila. As aptly appreciated by the COMELEC, the aforesaid acts were enough to settle the issue of the alleged dual citizenship of Rosalind Ybasco Lopez. Since her renunciation was effective, petitioner’s claim that private respondent must go through the whole process of repatriation holds no water.

Petitioner maintains further that when citizenship is raised as an issue in judicial or administrative proceedings, the resolution or decision thereon is generally not considered res judicata in any subsequent proceeding challenging the same; citing the case of Moy Ya Lim Yao v. Commissioner of Immigration. 12 He insists that the same issue of citizenship may be threshed out anew.

Petitioner is correct insofar as the general rule is concerned, i.e. the principle of res judicata generally does not apply in cases hinging on the issue of citizenship. However, in the case of Burca v. Republic, 13 an exception to this general rule was recognized. The Court ruled in that case that in order that the doctrine of res judicata may be applied in cases of citizenship, the following must be present:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

1) a person’s citizenship 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 on citizenship is affirmed by this Court.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

Although the general rule was set forth in the case of Moy Ya Lim Yao, the case did not foreclose the weight of prior rulings on citizenship. It elucidated that reliance may somehow be placed on these antecedent official findings, though not really binding, to make the effort easier or simpler. 14 Indeed, there appears sufficient basis to rely on the prior rulings of the Commission on Elections in SPA.-No. 95-066 and EPC 92-54 which resolved the issue of citizenship in favor of the herein private Respondent. The evidence adduced by petitioner is substantially the same evidence presented in these two prior cases. Petitioner failed to show any new evidence or supervening event to warrant a reversal of such prior resolutions. However, the procedural issue notwithstanding, considered on the merits, the petition cannot prosper.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DISMISSED and the COMELEC Resolutions, dated July 17, 1998 and January 15, 1999, respectively, in SPA No. 98-336 AFFIRMED.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

Private respondent Rosalind Ybasco Lopez is hereby adjudged qualified to run for governor of Davao Oriental. No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

Davide, Jr., C.J., Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Pardo, Buena, Gonzaga-Reyes, Ynares-Santiago and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.

Bellosillo, J., abroad, on official business.

Endnotes:



1. Rollo, p 31.

2. Rollo, pp. 57-58.

3. 141 SCRA 292, 367.

4. Article III, Section 1. The following are citizens of the Philippines:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

1. Those who are citizens of the Philippines at the time of the adoption of this Constitution.

2. Those whose fathers or mothers are citizens of the Philippines.

3. Those who elect Philippine citizenship pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution of nineteen hundred and thirty-five.

4. Those who are naturalized in accordance with law.

5. Article IV, Section 1. The following are citizens of the Philippines:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

1. Those who are citizens of the Philippines at the time of the adoption of this Constitution

2. Those whose fathers and 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.

6. 185 SCRA 703.

7. G.R. No. 135083, May 26, 1999.

8. Commonwealth Act 63, Section 1.

9. "Dual allegiance of citizens is inimical to the national interest and shall be dealt with by law."cralaw virtua1aw library

10. Mercado v. Manzano, supra.

11. Ibid.

12. 41 SCRA 292, supra.

13. 51 SCRA 248.

14. Moy Ya Lim Yao, supra, pp. 366 367.

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