G.R. No. 188829, June 13, 2016
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, HON. RAUL S. GONZALEZ, IN HIS CAPACITY AS SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, HON. ALIPIO F. FERNANDEZ, JR., IN HIS CAPACITY AS COMMISSIONER OF THE BUREAU OF IMMIGRATION, HON. ARTHEL B. CAROÑONGAN, HON. TEODORO B. DELARMENTE, HON. JOSE D. CABOCHAN, AND HON. FRANKLIN Z. LITTAUA, IN THEIR CAPACITY AS MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS OF THE BUREAU OF IMMIGRATION, Petitioners, v. DAVONN MAURICE C. HARP, Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
Before this Court is a Petition for Review1 under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court assailing the Decision2 of the Court of Appeals (CA) dated 16 July 2009 in C A-G.R. SP No. 87272. The CA nullified the Summary Deportation Order3 issued by the Board of Commissioners of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) against respondent Davonn Maurice Harp.
Petitioners Republic of the Philippines, Hon. Raul S. Gonzalez, in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Justice (DOJ); Hon. Alipio F. Fernandez, in his capacity as Commissioner of the BI; and Hon. Arthel B. Caroñongan; Hon. Teodoro B. Delarmente, Hon. Jose D. L. Cabochan, and Hon. Franklin Z. Littaua, in their capacities as members of the Board of Commissioners of the BI (petitioners) seek the reinstatement of (a) the DOJ Resolution4 dated 18 October 2004 revoking the Order of Recognition and Identity Certificate issued to respondent;5 and (b) the BI Summary Deportation Order dated 26 October 20046 issued after the revocation. Petitioners emphasize that there is substantial evidence to support the finding that respondent is not a Philippine citizen7 and, therefore, his summary deportation was warranted.8chanrobleslaw
Respondent's birth certificate;
A certified true copy of the birth certificate of respondent's father, Manuel;
A Certification from the Consulate General of the Philippines stating that Manuel became a citizen of the United States of America only on 10 November 1981;
An affidavit affirming Manuel's Filipino citizenship at the time of respondent's birth;
The passports of respondent's parents; and
The marriage contract of respondent's parents.
The Committees have the honor to submit the following findings of said inquiry to the Senate after conducting seven (7) public hearings and thorough field investigations.16chanrobleslawIn the report, the Senate committees also directed the BI and the DOJ to examine thoroughly the authenticity of the documents submitted by certain PBA players, including respondent, and to determine if they were indeed citizens of the Philippines.18chanrobleslaw
x x x x
D. Devonn Harp presented before the BI and the committees a certified true copy of the Certificate of Live Birth of his father, Manuel Arce Gonzales, to prove his claim for Philippine citizenship.
It appears, however, that the above certificate of birth is simulated, if not, highly suspicious.
First, the certified true copy of Manuel Arce Gonzales, in photocopy form, appears to have alterations on its face since the entries therein look to be superimposed. Some of the entries as printed in the Certificate of Live Birth appear light while the others dark, not to mention the traces of erasures thereon.
Second, Devonn Harp in his affidavit of Philippine citizenship executed in January 2000 deposed that his father is a certain Manuel S. Gonzales. The discrepancy is in the middle/initial name as the record of birth of his father indicates Manuel Arce Gonzales.
Third, upon field investigations, the marriage of Manual Arce Gonzales' parents, Devonn's alleged grandparents, namely Ernesto Prudencio Gonzalez and Natividad de la Cruz cannot be established. Certifications by offices concerned in this regard were issued and obtained by the field investigators.
Lastly, Ms. Liza T. Melgarejo, barangay secretary of Barangay Alicia, Bago Bantay, Quezon City, certified that 'as per record existing in this office (voters list 2002) there is no person registered/existing under the name of Manual Arce Gonzalez.
She further stated that Block 24, Bago Bantay, Quezon City exists. However, despite efforts exerted by the field investigators, they were not able to find lot 14, the alleged address of Devonn's relatives.17chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
x x x While we recognize the evidentiary rule that entries in public records like Certificate of Live Birth are prima facie evidence of the facts stated therein, it is worthy to mention that the pieces of information adduced during the Senate Committee investigation have produced clear, strong and convincing evidence to overcome the positive value of the said document.Acting on the basis of the special committee's findings, DOJ Secretary Gonzalez issued a Resolution dated 18 October 200424 revoking the recognition accorded to respondent and five other PBA players.25cralawred Secretary Gonzalez also directed the BI to undertake summary deportation proceedings against them.
This Committee further considers the probability that the document itself may have been fraudulently tampered. We concur with the observations of the Senate Committee on the patent alterations appearing on the face of the Certificate of Live Birth of Manuel Arce Gonzales.
Incidentally, the National Bureau of Investigation thru the Questioned Documents Examination Section came up with its own findings that some of the entries in the "Certificate of Live Birth of Manuel Arce Gonzales" have been substantially altered. The summary of the NBI findings are as follows:
chanRoblesvirtualLawlibraryLaboratory analysis of the specimen submitted under magnification using stereoscopic microscope, magnifying lens, varied lighting process and with the aid of photographic enlargements, reveal evidence of alteration by mechanical erasures (scraping off), obliteration and superimposition on the following areas of the questioned Certificate of Live Birth, as shown by fiber disturbance, differences in type design of typewriter used, typewriter ribbon, tint/shade of writing instrument, and traces of outlines of the original entries could be deciphered as:
- On item no. 3 - in the now appearing typewritten name "Manuel" in Name of Child: Manuel Arce Gonzalez. Traces of the original entry could be deciphered as "N-erto". - On item no. 6 - in the now appearing typewritten entry "Aug. 11" in Date of Birth: Aug. 11, 1957. The original entry could possibly be "Aug. 13, 1957". - On item no. 12 - in the now appearing typewritten middle name "Dela Cruz" and the last name "Arce" in Name of Mother: Natividad Dela Cruz Arce. The original entry could partially be deciphered as Natividad Cab-as Breva. - On item no. 14 - in the now appearing typewritten figure "7" in Age of Mother (at the time of his birth): 37. The original entry could be deciphered as "3". - On item no 17a - in the handwritten middle initial "A" and last name "Gonzalez" in Informants Signature written as Natividad A. Gonzalez. The original entry could not be deciphered as portions of it had been covered by the new superimposed entry. - On item no. 18b - in the handwritten last name "Gonzalez" appearing below the typewritten name Natividad A. Gonzalez. The original entry could not be deciphered due to extensive erasure. - On the three (3) now appearing handwritten surnames "Gonzalez" in Affidavit To Be Accomplished in Case of An Illegitimate Child (dorsal side of the Certificate of Live Birth). The original entries underneath the three (3) Gonzales signatures could be deciphered as "Breva."23 (citations omitted; underscoring in the original)
Concomitant to his status as a recognized Filipino citizen, petitioner, therefore, cannot just be summarily deported by the BI. The BI no longer has jurisdiction to revoke the order of recognition it had granted to petitioner as the same order had already become final and executory pursuant to Book VII, Chapter 3, Section 15 of the Administrative Code of 1987. It must be noted that the order of recognition was issued 18 February 2000 and IC No. 018488 was issued on 24 October 2000. The Summary Deportation Order, on the other hand, was issued on 26 October 2004 or more than four years after petitioner was conferred recognition of his Filipino citizenship.The CA, however, refused to settle the main controversy involving the citizenship of respondent.35 Citing his incorrect resort to a Rule 43 petition to assail the DOJ Resolution, the appellate court opted to resolve only the issues pertaining to the Summary Deportation Order.36chanrobleslaw
It is worth stressing that when the BI acknowledged petitioner's Filipino citizenship through the issuance of the order of recognition (with the affirmation of the DOJ) and IC No. 018488, the same is the last official act of the government which granted petitioner the rights of a Filipino citizen, the right to due process included. x x x.
x x x x
Moreover, the Summary Deportation Order collaterally attacks the Filipino citizenship of petitioner. 'This cannot be done. In our jurisdiction, an attack on a person's citizenship may only be done through a direct action for its nullity.' A Filipino citizen has the right to be secure in the enjoyment of the privileges accorded to him attendant to his citizenship. He has the right to live peacefully without perturbation from the authorities. Should he be disturbed by deportation proceedings, like in the instant case, he can resort to the courts for his protection. x x x34chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
However, we agree with respondent that the factual circumstances in Lewin are different from the case before us. In Lewin, petitioner was an alien who entered the country as a temporary visitor, to stay for only 50 days. He prolonged his stay by securing several extensions. Before his last extension expired, he voluntarily left the country, upon filing a bond, without any assurance from the deportation board that he would be admitted to the country upon his return. The court found that he did not return to the country, and at the time he was living in another country. The court ruled that Lewin's voluntary departure from the country, his long absence, and his status when he entered the country as a temporary visitor rendered academic the question of his deportation as an undesirable alien.Like the respondent in Gonzalez, respondent herein is also a recognized citizen of the Philippines. He has fought for his citizenship and clearly demonstrated his intent to return to the country.47 Consequently, we hold that his departure has not rendered this case moot and academic.
In this case, respondent, prior to his deportation, was recognized as a Filipino citizen. He manifested his intent to return to the country because his Filipino wife and children are residing in the Philippines. The filing of the petitions before the Court of Appeals and before this court showed his intention to prove his Filipino lineage and citizenship, as well as the error committed by petitioners in causing his deportation from the country. He was precisely questioning the DOJ's revocation of his certificate of recognition and his summary deportation by the BI.46chanrobleslaw
Therefore, we rule that respondent's deportation did not render the present case moot.
A one-day delay does not justify the appeal's dismissal where no element of intent to delay the administration of justice could be attributed to the petitioner. The Court has ruled:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibraryWe find no reason to depart from the above ruling. All things considered, a liberal construction of the rules of procedure is in order. The ends of justice would be better served by a review of this case on the merits rather than by a dismissal based on technicalities.The general rule is that the perfection of an appeal in the manner and within the period prescribed by law is, not only mandatory, but jurisdictional, and failure to conform to the rules will render the judgment sought to be reviewed final and unappealable. By way of exception, unintended lapses are disregarded so as to give due course to appeals filed beyond the reglementary period on the basis of strong and compelling reasons, such as serving the ends of justice and preventing a grave miscarriage thereof. The purpose behind the limitation of the period of appeal is to avoid an unreasonable delay in the administration of justice and to put an end to controversies.Respondent had a valid excuse for the late filing of the petition before the Court of Appeals. It is not disputed that there was a pending petition for prohibition before the trial court. Before filing the petition for review before the Court of Appeals, respondent had to withdraw the petition for prohibition before the trial court. The trial court granted the withdrawal of the petition only on 4 November 2004, the date of filing of the petition for review before the Court of Appeals. Under the circumstances, we find the one-day delay in filing the petition for review excusable. (Citations omitted and capitalized in the original)
However, the rule enunciated in the above-cases admits of an exception, at least insofar as deportation proceedings are concerned. Thus, what if the claim to citizenship of the alleged deportee is satisfactory? Should the deportation proceedings be allowed to continue or should the question of citizenship be ventilated in a judicial proceeding? In Chua Hiong vs. Deportation Board (96 Phil. 665 ), this Court answered the question in the affirmative, and We quote:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrarySince respondent has already been declared and recognized as a Philippine citizen by the BI and the DOJ, he must be protected from summary deportation proceedings. We affirm the ruling of the CA on this matter:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibraryWhen the evidence submitted by a respondent is conclusive of his citizenship, the right to immediate review should also be recognized and the courts should promptly enjoin the deportation proceedings. A citizen is entitled to live in peace, without molestation from any official or authority, and if he is disturbed by a deportation proceeding, he has the unquestionable right to resort to the courts for his protection, either by a writ of habeas corpus or of prohibition, on the legal ground that the Board lacks jurisdiction. If he is a citizen and evidence thereof is satisfactory, there is no sense nor justice in allowing the deportation proceedings to continue, granting him the remedy only after the Board has finished its investigation of his undesirability.
. . . And if the right (to peace) is precious and valuable at all, it must also be protected on time, to prevent undue harassment at the hands of ill-meaning or misinformed administrative officials. Of what use is this much boasted right to peace and liberty if it can be availed of only after the Deportation Board has unjustly trampled upon it, besmirching the citizen's name before the bar of public opinion? (Emphases supplied)
True, "[t]he power to deport an alien is an act of the State. It is an act by or under the authority of the sovereign power. It is a police measure against undesirable aliens whose presence in the country is found to be injurious to the public good and domestic tranquility of the people." However, in this controversy, petitioner is not an alien. He is a Filipino citizen duly recognized by the BI, the DOJ and the DFA x x x.88 (Citations omitted)A final word. The Court is compelled to make an observation on the cavalier way by which the BI, the DOJ and the Senate committee handled this matter. The DOJ and the BI relied on inconclusive evidence - in particular, on questionable reports based on photocopied documents - to take away the citizenship of respondent and even justify his deportation. These acts violate our basic rules on evidence89 and, more important, the fundamental right of every person to due process.90chanrobleslaw
1Rollo, pp. 13-37.
2 Id. at 38-50. Penned by Associate Justice Priscilla J. Baltazar-Padilla and concurred in by Associate Justices Mariano C. del Castillo (now a member of this Court) and Monina Arevalo-Zenarosa.
3 Id. at 133-141.
4 Id. at 130-132.
5 Id. at 131.
6 Id. at 133-141.
7 Id. at 130.
8 Id. at 133.
9 Id. at 40.
13 Id. at 58.
14 Id. at 54.
15 Id. at 55.
16 Id. at 58.
17 Id. at 61-62.
18 Id. at 65.
19 Id. at 82.
20 Id. at 70-81.
21 Id. at 82-129.
22 Id. at 113.
23 Id. at 109-111.
24 Id. at 130-132.
25cralawred Id. at 131.
26 Id. at 142-159.
27 Id. at 142.
28 Id. at 139.
30 Id. at 43.
32 Id. at 38-50.
33 Id. at 48.
34 Id. at 47-48.
35 Id. at 43.
37 Id. at 21-22.
38 Id. at 22-23.
39 Id. at 25-32.
40 Id. at 455-457; 461-462.
41 Id. at 457-459.
42 Id. at 459-460.
43 Id. at 21.
44 114 Phil. 248 (1962).
45 628 Phil. 194 (2010).
47Rollo, p. 451.
48 Id. at 22-24.
49 Id. at 23.
50 Id. at 24.
51 Id. at 447-464.
52 Id. at 452.
53 Id. at 452-453.
54 671 Phil. 721 (2011).
56Rollo, p. 161.
57 Supra note 45.
58 Administrative Code of 1987, Book IV, Title III, Chapter 1, Section 3.
59 1987 Constitution, Article IV, Section 1(2); see also 1973 Constitution, Article III, Section 1(2).
60 Bureau of Immigration Law Instruction No. RBR-99-002
62Rollo, p. 56.
63Gonzalez v. Pennisi, 628 Phil. 194 (2010); Go, Sr. v. Ramos, 614 Phil. 451 (2009); Tecson v. COMELEC, 468 Phil. 421 (2004).
64Go, Sr. v. Ramos, supra.
65Gonzalez v. Pennisi, supra.
66Rollo, p. 61.
67 Id. at 110-111.
68 Id. at 61.
69 Id. at 61-62.
70 Id. at 62.
71 CA rollo, p. 46.
72 Id. at 45.
73 Id. at 48.
74 Id. at 44.
75 Id. at 58.
77 See: Heirs of Gregorio v. Court of Appeals, 360 Phil. 753 (1998).
78Rollo, pp. 110-111
79 The fifth cardinal right in due process in administrative proceedings as stated in Ang Tibay v. CIR [69 Phil. 635 (1940)] requires that the decision must be rendered on the evidence presented at the hearing, or at least contained in the record and disclosed to the parties affected; Also see: Russell v. Southard, 53 U.S. 139, 158; 13 L. Ed. 927 (1851); and Holmes v. Trout, 32 U.S. 171; 8 L. Ed. 647 (1833).
80Rollo, pp. 186, 460.
81 Id. at 483.
82 RULES OF COURT, Rule 130, Section 44; Rule 132, Section 23.
83Ladignon v. Court of Appeals, 390 Phil. 1161 (2000).
84Rollo, pp. 51-52.
85 Civil Code, Article 410; See also Rules of Court. Rule 130, Section 44.
86Chua Hiong v. Deportation Board, 96 Phil. 665 (1995).
87 274 Phil. 1156 (1991).
88Rollo, p. 49.
89 Rule 133, Section 5 of the Rules of Court states:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibraryIn 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 a conclusion.90 In the landmark case of Ang Tibay v. CIR [69 Phil. 635 (1940)], the Court emphasized that the right to due process in administrative proceedings obligates a tribunal to ensure that there is substantial evidence to support its finding or conclusion. Similarly, Section 10 of the Senate Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation recognize the applicability in such inquiries of judicial rules of evidence when they affect substantive rights.
91 Id. at 65.
92 Id. at 61.
93 In his Dissent in Perez v. Brownell, 356 U.S. 44, 64; 2 L. Ed. 2d 603, 617 (1958) Chief Justice Warren of the United States Supreme Court explained the nature of the right to citizenship:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibraryCitizenship is man's basic right for it is nothing less than the right to have rights. Remove this priceless possession and there remains a stateless person, disgraced and degraded in the eyes of his countrymen. He has no lawful claim to protection from any nation, and no nation may assert rights on his behalf.