March 2016 - Philippine Supreme Court Decisions/Resolutions
PERLAS-BERNABE, J.: DISSENTING OPINION - G.R. No. 221697, March 08, 2016 - MARY GRACE NATIVIDAD S. POE-LLAMANZARES, Petitioner, v. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS AND ESTRELLA C. ELAMPARO, Respondents.; G.R. NOS. 221698-700 - MARY GRACE NATIVIDAD S. POE-LLAMANZARES, Petitioner, v. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, FRANCISCO S. TATAD, ANTONIO P. CONTRERAS AND AMADO D. VALDEZ, Respondents.
G.R. No. 221697, March 08, 2016
MARY GRACE NATIVIDAD S. POE-LLAMANZARES, Petitioner, v. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS AND ESTRELLA C. ELAMPARO, Respondents.
G.R. NOS. 221698-700
MARY GRACE NATIVIDAD S. POE-LLAMANZARES, Petitioner, v. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, FRANCISCO S. TATAD, ANTONIO P. CONTRERAS AND AMADO D. VALDEZ, Respondents.
Amid the comple"ity of the legal issues and political implications involved, this Court, in ruling on this matter - as in every other similar matter before it - must always harken back to its parameters of review over rulings of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC). It is on this basic but resolute premise that I submit this dissent.
In Mitra v. COMELEC1 (Mitra), it was explained that "[t]he basis for the Court's review of COMELEC rulings under the standards of Rule 65 of the Rules of Court is Section 7, Article IX-A of the  Constitution which provides that '[u]nless otherwise provided by the 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 [(30)] days from receipt of a copy thereof.' For this reason, the Rules of Court provide for a separate rule (Rule 64) specifically applicable only to decisions of the COMELEC and the Commission on Audit. This Rule e"pressly refers to the application of Rule 65 in the filing of a petition for certiorari, subject to the exception clause- 'except as hereinafter provided.'"2
"The purpose of a petition for certiorari is to determine whether the challenged tribunal has acted without or in excess of its jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. Thus, any resort to a petition for certiorari under Rule 64 in relation to Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure is limited to the resolution of jurisdictional issues."3
In Miranda v. Abaya,4 this Court held that "an act of a court or tribunal may only be considered to have been done in grave abuse of discretion when the same was performed in a capricious or whimsical exercise of judgment which is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. The abuse of discretion must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined 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 or personal hostility x x x. An error of judgment committed in the exercise of its legitimate jurisdiction is not the same as 'grave abuse of discretion.' An abuse of discretion is not sufficient by itself to justify the issuance of a writ of certiorari. The abuse must be grave and patent, and it must be shown that the discretion was exercised arbitrarily and despotically x x x."5
In this case, the COMELEC held that petitioner Mary Grace Natividad S. Poe-Llamanzares (petitioner) made false representations in her certificate of candidacy (CoC) for President filed on October 15, 20156 (2015 CoC) when she declared under oath that she is a natural-born citizen of this country and would be a resident thereof for ten (10) years and eleven (11) months on the day immediately preceding the May 9, 2016 Elections.7 Accordingly, the COMELEC cancelled petitioner's CoC. 8
Finding the verdict to be "deadly diseased with grave abuse of discretion from root to fruits,"9 the ponencia nullifies the COMELEC's assailed rulings,10 and even goes to the extent of declaring petitioner as an eligible candidate.11
As to its first reason, the ponencia posits that the COMELEC, in ruling on a petition to deny due course to or cancel a CoC, is restrained "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."12 Consequently, "(t]he COMELEC cannot itself, in the same cancellation case, decide the qualification or lack thereof of the candidate."13
The COMELEC's power to deny due course to or cancel a candidate's CoC stems from Section 2, Article IX-C of the 1987 Constitution which grants it the authority to "[e]nforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum, and recall" and to "[d]ecide, except those involving the right to vote, all questions affecting elections x x x." In Loong v. COMELEC,14 it was elucidated that:
Section 2(1) of Article IX(C) ofthe Constitution gives the COMELEC the broad power "to enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum[,] and recall." Undoubtedly, the text and intent of this provision is to give COMELEC all the necessary and incidental powers for it to achieve the objective of holding free, orderly, honest, peaceful, and credible elections. Congruent to this intent, this Court has not been niggardly in defining the parameters of powers of COMELEC in the conduct of our elections.15 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Likewise, in Bedol v. COMELEC (Bedol):16
The quasi-judicial power of the COMELEC embraces the power to resolve controversies arising from the enforcement of election laws, and to be the sole judge of all pre-proclamation controversies; x x x.17 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Based on the text of the Constitution, and bearing in mind the import of cases on the matter, there is no perceivable restriction which qualifies the exercise of the COMELEC's adjudicatory power to declare a candidate ineligible and thus, cancel his/her CoC with the need of a prior determination coming from a "proper authority."
Contrary to the ponencia's interpretation, the COMELEC, under Rule 25 of its Resolution No. 952318 dated September 25, 2012, may disqualify any candidate found by the Commission to be suffering from any disqualification provided by law or the Constitution:
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.
x x x x (Emphasis supplied)
It is confounding that the ponencia ignores the second prong of the provision and myopically zeroes-in on the first which but procedurally reflects the COMELEC's power to disqualify a candidate already declared by final decision of a competent court guilty of any disqualification, such as those accessory to a criminal conviction.19
As edified in Bedol, it is the COMELEC which is the "sole judge of all pre-proclamation controversies."20 Thus, it would greatly emasculate the COMELEC's constitutionally-conferred powers by treating it as a mere administrative organ relegated to the task of conducting perfunctory reviews only to spot falsities on the face of CoCs or ministerially enforce declarations from a prior authority.
As in this case, a "pre-proclamation controversy" may arise from a petition to deny due course to or cancel a CoC. This remedy - which is filed before and falls under the adjudicatory jurisdiction of the COMELEC is governed by Section 78, Article IX of Batas Pambansa Bilang 881, otherwise known as the "Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines"21 (OEC):
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 7422 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 and underscoring supplied)
As worded, a Section 78 petition is based exclusively on the ground that a CoC contains a material representation that is false. "The false representation contemplated by Section 78 of the [OEC] pertains to [a] material fact, and is not simply an innocuous mistake. A material fact refers to a candidate's qualification for elective office such as one's citizenship and residence."23
While there are decided cases wherein this Court has stated that "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,"'24 nowhere does the proviSion mention this requirement. In Tagolino v. House of Representatives Electoral Tri?unal (Tagolino),25 this Court enunciated that:
[T]he 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 be false. 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.26 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Albeit incorporating the intent requirement into their respective discussions, a survey of certain cases decided after Tagolino only prove to demonstrate the "bare significance" of the said requisite.
For instance, in Villafuerte v. COMELEC,27 this Court echoed precedent, when it stated that "a false representation under Section 78" must be made "with an intention to deceive the electorate as to one's qualifications for public office."28 However, this Court never looked into the circumstances that surrounded the candidate's representation. Instead, it equated deliberateness of representation with the materiality of the fact being represented in the CoC. Thus, it held therein that "respondent's nickname 'LRAY JR. MIGZ' written in his COC is [not] a material misrepresentation," reasoning that the nickname "cannot be considered a material fact which pertains to his eligibility and thus qualification to run for public office."29
In Hayudini v. COMELEC,30 this Court, while dealing with a case that involved material representations pertaining to residency and voter registration, did not discuss the circumstances which would demonstrate the intent of the candidate behind his CoC representations. It again parroted precedent without any devoted discussion on the matter of intent.31
Similarly, in Jalover v. Osmeņa32 (Jalover) this Court just repeated precedent when it said that "[s]eparate 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,"33 but did not apply the same. In fact, a closer scrutiny of Jalover, which cited Mitra, would lead to the reasonable conclusion that jurisprudence has all the while presumed deliberateness of intent from the materiality of the falsity. The quoted passage from Mitra reads: "[t]he deliberate character of the misrepresentation necessarily follows from a consideration of the consequences of any material falsity x x x."34 The "separateness" of the requirement of intent from the requisite of materiality is hence, more apparent than real. The bottom line according to Jalover, citing Mitra, is that "a candidate who falsifies a material fact cannot run."35
This statement therefore demonstrates that the intent requirement is but a fictional superfluity, if not anomaly, which is actually devoid of its own conceptual relevance. As such, its existence in jurisprudence only serves as a perplexing, if not, hazardous, mirage.
In the more recent case of Agustin v. COMELEC,36 this Court, while again quoting the same passages from Mitra, upheld "the declaration by the COMELEC En Banc" - which was, by the way, acting on a Section 78 petition- "that [therein] petitioner was ineligible to run and be voted for as Mayor of the Municpality of Marcos, Ilocos Norte" on the ground that he "effectively repudiated his oath of renunciation" by the use of his US passport and, thus, "reverted him to his earlier status as a dual citizcn."37 Interestingly, this Court, consistent with the above-cited passage from Tagolino, stated that "[e]ven if it made no finding that the petitioner deliberately attempted to mislead or misinform as to warrant the cancellation of his CoC, the COMELEC could still declare him disqualified for not meeting the required eligibility under the Local Government Code."38
Again, the plain text of Section 78 reads that the remedy is based "on the ground that any material representation contained therein as required under Section 74 hereof is false." It pertains to a material representation that is false and not a "material misrepresentation." In my view, the latter is a semantic but impactful misnomer which tends to obfuscate the sense of the provision as it suggests- by employing the word "misrepresent," ordinarily understood to mean as "to give a false or misleading representation of usually with an intent to deceive or be unfair"39 - that intent is crucial in a Section 78 petition, when, in fact, it is not.
Notably, the Dissenting Opinion of former Supreme Court Associate Justice Dante O. Tinga (Justice Tinga) in Tecson v. COMELE40 (Tecson) explains the irrelevance of the candidate's intention or belief in ruling on a Section 78 petition. There, he even pointed out the jurisprudential missteps in the cases of Romualdez-Marcos v. COMELEC41 (Romualdez-Marcos) and Salcedo II v. COMELEC42 (Salcedo II) wherein the phantom requirement of "deliberate intention to mislead" was first foisted:
[I]n accordance with Section 78, supra, the petitioner in a petition to deny due course (to or] cancel a certificate of candidacy need only prove three elements. First, there is a representation contained in the certificate of candidacy. Second, the representation is required under Section 74. Third, the representation must be "material," which, according to jurisprudence, means that it pertains to the eligibility of the candidate to the office. Fourth, the representation is false.
Asserting that proof of intent to conceal is also necessary for a petition under Section 78 to prosper, Mr. Justice Kapunan wrote in Romualdez-Marcos v. [COMELEC], thus:It 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 [C]onstitution's residency qualification requirement. The said statement 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. It would be plainly ridiculous for a candidate to deliberately and knowingly make a statement in a certificate of candidacy which would lead to his or her disqualification. [Italics in the original]
The Court, reiterated the Kapunan pronouncement in Salcedo II v. [COMELEC].
Adverting to Romualdez-Marcos and Salcedo II, the COMELEC En Banc ruled that while the element of materiality was not in question the intent to deceive was not established, not even the knowledge of falsity, thus:Undeniably, the question on the citizenship [of] respondent falls within the requirement of materiality under Section 78. However, proof of misrepresentation with a deliberate attempt to mislead must still be established. In other words, direct and substantial evidence showing that the person whose certificate of candidacy is being sought to be cancelled or denied due course, must have known or have been aware of the falsehood as appearing on his certificate. [Italics in the original]
The pronouncements in Romualdez-Marcos and Salcedo II, however, are clearly not supported by a plain reading of the law. Nowhere in Section 78 is it stated or implied that there be an intention to deceive for a certificate of candidacy to be denied due course or be cancelled. All the law requires is that the "material representation contained [in the certificate of candidacy] as required under Section 74 x x x is false." Be it noted that a hearing under Section 78 and Rule 23 is a quasi-judicial proceeding where the intent of the respondent is irrelevant. Also drawing on the principles of criminal law for analogy, the "offense" of material representation is malum prohibitum not malum in se. Intent is irrelevant. When the law speaks in clear and categorical language, there is no reason for interpretation or construction, but only for application.
The reason for the irrelevance of intent or belief is not difficult to divine. Even if a candidate believes that he is eligible and purports to be so in his certificate of candidacy, but is subsequently proven in a Rule 23 proceeding to be, in fact or in law, not eligible, it would be utterly foolish to allow him to proceed with his candidacy. The electorate would be merely squandering its votes for - and the COMELEC, its resources in counting the ballots cast in favor of-a candidate who is not, in any case, qualified to hold public office.
The Kapunan pronouncement in the Romualdez-Marcos case did not establish a doctrine. It is not supported bv law, and it smacks of judicial legislation. Moreover, such judicial legislation becomes even more egregious[,] considering that it arises out of the pronouncement of only one Justice, or 6% of a Supreme Court. While several other Justices joined Justice Kapunan in upholding the residence qualification of Rep. Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, they did not share his dictum. It was his by his lonesome. Justice Puno had a separate opinion, concurred in by Justices Bellosillo and Melo. Justice Mendoza filed a separate opinion too, in which Chief Justice Narvasa concurred. Justices Romero and Francisco each had separate opinions. Except for Chief Justice Narvasa and Justice Mendoza, the Justices in the majority voted to grant Rep. [Marcos's] petition on the ground that she reestablished her domicile in Leyte upon being widowed by the death of former President Marcos.
On the other hand, the reiteration of the Kapunan pronouncement in Salcedo is a mere obiter dictum. The Court dismissed the disqualification case on the ground that the respondent's use of the surname "Salcedo" in her certificate of candidacy is not a material representation since the entry does not refer to her qualification for elective office. Being what it is, the Salcedo obiter cannot elevate the Kapunan pronouncement to the level of a doctrine regardless of how many Justices voted for Salcedo. Significantly, Justice Puno concurred in the result only.
Thus, in this case, it does not matter that respondent knows that he was not a natural-born Filipino citizen and, knowing such fact, proceeded to state otherwise in his certificate of candidacy, with an intent to deceive the electorate. A candidate's citizenship eligibility in particular is determined by law, not by his good faith. It was, therefore, improper for the COMELEC to dismiss the petition on the ground that petitioner failed to prove intent to mislead on the part of respondent.43 (Emphases and underscoring supplied)
I could not agree more with Justice Tinga's exposition. Truly, "[n]owhere in Section 78 is it stated or implied that there be an intention to deceive for a certificate of candidacy to be denied due course or be cancelled."44 At the risk of belaboring the point, the candidate's intent to mislead or misinform on a material fact stated in his/her CoC is of no consequence in ruling on a Section 78 petition. To premise a Section 78 petition on a finding of intent or belief would create a legal vacuum wherein the COMELEC becomes powerless under the OEC to enjoin the candidacy of ineligible presidential candidates upon a mere showing that the material representations in his/her CoC were all made in good faith. It should be emphasized that "[a] candidate's citizenship eligibility in particular is determined by law, not by his good faith."45 With this, the Romulaldez Marcos and Salcedo II rulings which "judicially legislated" this requirement should, therefore, be abandoned as legal aberrations.
Neither is it acceptable to think that the matter of eligibility particularly, that of a candidate for President - can only be taken up before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) after a candidate has already been voted for. The COMELEC's constitutional mandate cannot be any clearer: it is empowered to "[e]nforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum, and recall" and to "[d]ecide, except those involving the right to vote, all questions affecting elections x x x."46 As observed by Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio in his own opinion in Tecson:
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 [Schwarzenegger], 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.47
Verily, we cannot tolerate an absurd situation wherein a presidential candidate, who has already been determined by the COMELEC to have missed a particular eligibility requirement and, thus, had made a false representation in his/her CoC by declaring that he/she is eligible, is still allowed to continue his/her candidacy, and eventually be voted for. The proposition48 that the matter of eligibility should be left to the PET to decide only after the elections is a dangerous one for not only does it debase the COMELEC's constitutional powers, it also effectively results in a mockery of the electoral process, not to mention the disenfranchisement of the voters. Clearly, the votes of the Filipino people would be put to waste if we imprudently take away from the COMELEC its capability to avert the fielding of ineligible candidates whose votes therefor shall be only considered stray. The Filipino people deserve to know prior to the elections if the person they intend to vote for is ineligible. In all reasonable likelihood, they would not have cast their votes for a particular candidate who would just be ousted from office later on.
At any rate, the jurisdictional boundaries have already been set: the COMELEC's jurisdiction ends, and that of the PET begins, only when a candidate therefor has already been elected, and thereafter, proclaimed.49 In Tecson, this Court explained that the PET's jurisdiction under Section 4, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution is limited only to a post-election scenano:
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.
x x x x
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. A perusal of the phraseology in Rule 12, Rule 13, and Rule 14 of the "Rules of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal," promulgated by the Supreme Court en banc on 18 April 1992, would support this premise -Rule 12. Jurisdiction. -The Tribunal shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of the President or Vice-President of the Philippines.
Rule 13. How Initiated. - An election contest is initiated by the filing of an election protest or a petition for quo warranto against the President or Vice-President. An election protest shall not include a petition for quo warranto. A petition for quo warranto shall not include an election protest.
Rule 14. Election Protest. - Only the registered candidate for President or for Vice-President of the Philippines who received the second or third highest number of votes may contest the election of the President or the Vice-President, as the case may be, by filing a verified petition with the Clerk of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal within thirty (30) days after the proclamation of the winner.
The rules 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, [Article VII] 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.50 (Emphases supplied)
Thus, I respectfully object to the ponencia's enfeebling take on the COMELEC's power to determine the eligibility of a candidate prior to the elections.
In fact, the ponencia's view is also inconsistent with its declaration that petitioner is "QUALIFIED to be a candidate for President in the National and Local Elections of 9 May 2016."51 If the COMELEC had no power to determine the eligibility of petitioner, then this Court - which is only tasked to exercise its power of review under the parameters of a petition for certiorari and, thus, should have either nullified or affirmed the assailed rulings - could not proceed and assume jurisdiction outside of the context of the case before it and make this ad hoc pronouncement. The declaration not only serves to confuse the true powers of the COMELEC, it also distorts the manner of our review.
The central question in this case, to which the analysis of grave abuse of discretion is applied, is whether or not the representations of petitioner regarding her residency - particularly, that she would be a resident of this country for ten (10) years and eleven (11) months on the day immediately preceding the May 9, 2016 Elections - and her citizenship particdarly, that she is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines in her 2015 CoC are false. Notably, a finding of falsity even as to one representation would already be enough for the COMELEC to deny due course to or cancel her 2015 CoC. To recount, Section 74- to which the false representation ground under Section 78 of the OEC relates to- provides that "[t]he 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 x x x." A candidate is eligible to run for the post of President for as long as he or she is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines and a resident thereof for at least ten (10) years immediately preceding the elections, among other requirements. These citizenship and residency requirements are delineated in Section 2, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution:
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.
All of the requirements must concur. Otherwise, the candidate is ineligible to run for President; and, hence, a contrary declaration therefor, already amounts to a false material representation within the ambit of Section 78 of the OEC.
On the issue of residency, the ponencia claims that the COMELEC gravely abused its discretion in concluding that petitioner falsely represented in her 2015 CoC that she is a resident of the Philippines for at least ten (10) years and eleven (11) months immediately preceding the May 9, 2016 Elections as, in fact, it found her representation to be true.52 In so finding, the ponencia gave credence to the voluminous and undisputed evidence which petitioner presented showing that she and her family abandoned their US domicile and relocated to the Philippines for good, which began on her arrival on May 24, 2005.53 It also pointed out that petitioner's entry in the Philippines visa-free as a balikbayan should not be taken against her since, consistent with the purpose of the law, she actually reestablished life here.54 Finally, the ponencia disregarded petitioner's prior statement in her 2012 CoC for Senator wherein she declared to be a resident of the Philippins for six years (6) years and six (6) months before May 13, 2013, thus implying that she started being a Philippine resident only in November 2006.55
I beg to differ.
"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."56
In ruling that petitioner failed to reestablish her domicile in the Philippines on May 24, 2005 as she claimed, the COMELEC primarily observed that all of the evidence presented by petitioner were executed before July 2006, which is the date of reacquisition of her Filipino citizenship. Citing the cases of Coquilla v. COMELEC (Coquilla),51Jafzon v. COMELEC (Japzon),58 and Caballero v. COMELEC (Caballero),59 the COMELEC pronounced that the earliest possible date that she could have reestablished her residence in the Philippines was when she reacquired her Filipino citizenship in July 2006.
In Coquilla, the Court ruled that an alien, such as petitioner, may waive his/her status as a non-resident and thus, become a resident alien by obtaining an immigrant visa under the Philippine Immigration Act of 1948 and an Immigrant Certificate of Residence. Prior to this waiver, he/she is a visitor, a non-resident alien.60 Hence, without this waiver, petitioner remained to be a visitor or a non-resident alien until July 2006.
On the other hand, in Japzon, the Court declared that reacquisition under Republic Act No. (RA) 9225,61 otherwise known as the "Citizenship Retention and Reacquisition Act of 2003," has no automatic impact on a candidate's domicile as he/she only had the option to again establish his/her domicile.62
Meanwhile, in Caballero, this Court held that a candidate must still prove that after becoming a Philippine citizen, he/she had reestablished his new domicile of choice.63
To my mind, the COMELEC's reliance on Coquilla is apt. As the records disclose, petitioner returned to the Philippines on May 24, 2005 under the Balikbayan Program,64 and therefore, only obtained the status of a temporary resident. Specifically, Section 3 ofRA 6768,65 as amended by RA 9174,66 merely accorded her the benefit of visa-free entry to the Philippines for a period of one (1) year:
Section 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[.] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
As such, since she did not waive her status of being a non-resident alien, her stay here upon her return on May 24, 2005 up until she reacquired Philippine citizenship in July 2006 should only be considered as temporary.
While it is not entirely indispensable that one first acquires the status of a permanent resident in order to reestablish his/her domicile in the Philippines, it is, nonetheless, highly indicative of his/her animus manendi and animus non revertendi. While it is undisputed that petitioner resigned from her work in the US in 2004; acquired, together with her husband, quotations and estimates from property movers regarding the relocation of all their goods, furniture, and cars from the US to the Philippines as early as March 2005; enrolled two (2) of her children in Philippine Schools for the school year 2005 to 2006; and purchased a condominium unit in the Philippines in the second half of 2005,67 petitioner never bothered applying for permanent residency up until July 2006,68 which is the date when she reacquired Filipino citizenship under RA 9225, and consequently, waived her status as a non-resident alien. This means that from her return on May 24, 2005 up until July 2006, she, despite the above-mentioned overt acts, stayed in the Philippines only as a temporary resident. If at all, her inattention to legitimize her so-called "permanent residence" in the Philippines in accordance with our Immigration Laws stamps a significant question mark on her animus manendi and animus non revertendi on May 24, 2005. Thus, the COMELEC can hardly be blamed from reaching its ruling as petitioner's intention to permanently reside in the Philippines and to abandon the US as her domicile on May 24, 2005 were, based on reasonable premises, shrouded in doubt.
At any rate, the overt acts on which petitioner premises her claims are insufficient to prove her animus manendi and animus non-revertendi. In fact, same as her failure to promptly address her permanent residency status, some of these overt acts might even exhibit her ambivalence to reestablish her domicile in the Philippines on May 24, 2005. For instance, while she purchased a condominium unit in the Philippines in the second half of 2005 (which period is even past May 24, 2005), records unveil that petitioner had other real properties in the US, one of which was purchased in 1992 and another in 2008.69 Relevantly, these dates are before and after May 24, 2005. Likewise, petitioner's correspondence with the property movers in the US in the first half of 2005 falters, in light of the fact that she and her husband commenced actual negotiations for their transfer only in the following year, or in January 2006, months after May 24, 2005.70 Similarly, after this date, it was only in March 2006 when petitioner's husband informed the US Postal Service of a change of address, without even specifying their new address in the Philippines.71 While it is true that the visa-free entry of petitioner under the Balikbayan Program should not automatically hinder her ability to as the ponencia would say - "reestablish her life here," it remains that the parameters of domicile reestablishment under the auspices of political law have not been clearly proven. Hence, because all the overt acts prior to that time had no impact in establishing her animus manendi and animus non revertendi, the earliest date that petitioner could have reestablished her residence was in July 2006. The overall conclusion of the COMELEC was therefore correct.
At this juncture, let me express my assent to the view that "[s]tronger proof is required in the reestablishment of national domicile."72 This is because a person who has been domiciled in another country has already established effective legal ties with that country that are substantially distinct and separate from ours. Such a situation hardly obtains when what is involved is the change of domicile between localities within the same country.
I further observe that the need for stronger proof becomes more apparent when the person involved is one who has been domiciled in another country as part of his/her naturalization as a citizen therein. As such, while citizenship and residency are different from and independent of each other - this, being the key premise in the Court's rulings in Japzon and Caballero I do believe that "one may invariably affect the other."73 Being still a citizen of the US at the time of her return to the Philippines on May 24, 2005, petitioner remained entitled to the rights, privileges, and the protection the US government extends to its nationals, including the right to residence. In fact, from May 24, 2005 to October 20, 2010, petitioner availed of this privilege when she returned to the US, on separate dates, significantly, for no less than five times.74 To my mind, the ability to enjoy the privileges of foreign citizenship at any time, while remaining under that status, conjures a reasonable presumption that the latter continues to avail of these privileges, which, among others, include the privilege to reside in that foreign country. Hence, absent compelling evidence to show that he/she had reestablished domicile in another country, it should therefore be presumed that he/she continues to be domiciled in the country he/she is a citizen of.
Moreover, the necessity of presenting stronger proof as herein discussed is impelled by the very reason underlying the residency requirement.75 The discernment of pervading realities in the place where one seeks to be elected is objectively farther from a person who has been domiciled in a foreign country. Thus, a higher standard of proof should be applied to a candidate previously domiciled in a foreign country for he/she has been out of touch with the needs of the electoral constituency he/she seeks to represent.
For another, the COMELEC cannot be faulted for relying on petitioner's admission in her 2012 CoC for Senator that her period of residence from May 13, 2013 is "6 years and 6 months," which, hence, implies that she started being a Philippine resident only in November 2006. While it is true 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 [C]onstitution's residency qualification requirement,"76 the COMELEC cannot be said to gravely abuse its discretion when it considered petitioner's admission against interest as another circumstance which militates against her claim's legitimacy. It is certainly not patent and grave error for the COMELEC to regard a CoC as a notarized document and accord it the presumption of regularity.77 Also, while petitioner may later impugn an admission against interest, the COMELEC found that her residency declaration in her 2012 CoC could not be borne out of an "honest mistake," in light of the following considerations: (a) the bulk, if not all, of the evidence she presented were executed before she reacquired her Philippine citizenship, which cannot be done in light of Coquilla, among others; (b) while she made statements acknowledging that there was a mistake in her 2015 CoC, they were nonetheless delivered at a time when, at the very least, the possibility of her running for President was already a matter of public knowledge; and (c) petitioner was a well-educated woman and a high-ranking official with a competent staff and a band of legal advisers and is not entirely unacquainted with Philippine politics, and thus, would know how to fill-up a pro-forma CoC in 2012. As I see it, these reasons are not barren of any considerable merit. At the very least, they are plausible enough to negate the finding that the conclusion amounted to grave abuse of discretion. Besides, I believe that the falsity of the material representation already justifies the cancellation of petitioner's CoC. As above-intimated, a candidate's intent is immaterial to a Section 78 analysis.
Neither did the COMELEC gravely abuse its discretion in ruling that petitioner made a false material representation in her 2015 CoC when she declared that she was a natural-born citizen of the Philippines.
I depart from the ponencia's stand that petitioner's blood relationship with a Filipino citizen is demonstrable on account of statistical probability, and other circumstantial evidence, namely, her abandonment as an infant in a Roman Catholic Church in Iloilo City, as well as her typical Filipino features.78
A run-through of the basic tenets on citizenship is apropros.
"There are two ways of acquiring citizenship: (1) by birth, and (2) by naturalization. These ways of acquiring citizenship correspond to the two kinds of citizens: the natural-born citizen, and the naturalized citizen."79
"A person who at the time of his birth is a citizen of a particular country, is a natural-born citizen thereof."80 As defined under the present Constitution, "[n]atural-born citizens are those who are citizens of the Philippines from birth without havinto perform any act to acquire or perfect their Philippine citizenship." 1 "On the other hand, naturalized citizens are those who have become Filipino citizens through naturalization X X X."82
"[I]t 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 x x x."83 With respect to citizenship by birth, a particular jurisdiction generally subscribes to either the principle of jus sanguinis or the principle of jus soli, although it may adopt a mixed system with features ofboth.
"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."84 In Valles v. COMELEC, this Court held that "[t]he signing into law of the 1935 Philippine Constitution has established the principle ofjus sanguinis as basis for the acquisition of Philippine citizenship x x x. So also, the principle of jus sanguinis, which confers citizenship by virtue of blood relationship, was subsequently retained under the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions."85 Following this principle, proof of blood relation to a Filipino parent is therefore necessary to show that one is a Filipino citizen by birth.
In this case, petitioner has shown no evidence of blood relation to a Filipino parent to prove that she acquired Filipino citizenship by birth under the jus sanguinis principle. While petitioner did not bear the initial burden of proving that she made a false material representation on her citizenship in her 2015 CoC, as that burden belonged to those who filed the petitions to deny due course to or cancel her CoC before the COMELEC,86 the burden of evidence shifted to her87 when she voluntarily admitted her status as a foundling. Under Section 1, Article IV of the 1935 Constitution, which governs petitioner's case,88 foundlings are not included in the enumeration of who are considered as Filipino citizens:
Section 1. The following are citizens ofthe 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.
A '"foundling' refers to 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."'89 The fact that a candidate's parents are unknown directly puts into question his/her Filipino citizenship because the candidate has no prima facie link to a Filipino parent from which he/she could have traced her Filipino citizenship. This is why the burden of evidence shifted to petitioner.
Without any proof of blood relation to a Filipino parent, and without any mention in the 1935 Constitution that foundlings are considered or are even presumed to be Filipino citizens by birth, the COMELEC's finding that petitioner was not a natural-born citizen cannot be taken as patently unreasonable and grossly baseless so as to amount to grave abuse of discretion. As it is apparent, the COMELEC, with good reason, relied on the plain text of the 1935 Constitution based on the statutory construction axioms of expressio unius est exclusio alterius90 and verba legis non est recedendum,91 as well as firmly abided by the jus sanguinis principle which, as repeatedly stated, necessitates proof of blood relation, of which petitioner presented none. Accordingly, its analysis was grounded on sound legal basis and therefore unreflective of grave abuse of discretion.
Further, while petitioner argues that foundlings should be considered as natural-born Filipinos based on the intent of the framers of the 1935 Constitution,92 it should be pointed out that the 1935 Constitution, as it was adopted in its final form, never carried over any proposed provision on foundlings being considered or presumed to be Filipino citizens. Its final exclusion is therefore indicative of the framers' prevailing intent. Besides, in Civil Liberties Union v. The Executive Secretary,93 this Court remarked that:
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 [is] safer to construe the constitution from what appears upon its face."94 (Emphases and underscoring supplied)
I also find no merit in petitioner's invocation of international covenants95 which purportedly evince a generally accepted principle in international law that foundlings are presumed to be citizens of the country where they are found. Since the 1935 Constitution, and the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions thereafter, consistently subscribe to the jus sanguinis principle, it is axiomatic that no international agreement or generally-accepted principle of international law even assuming that there is a binding one which supports petitioner's averred presumption - could contravene the same. "Under the 1987 Constitution, international law can become part of the sphere of domestic law either by transformation or incorporation."96 Thus, in our legal hierarchy, treaties and international principles belong to the same plane as domestic laws and, hence, cannot prevail over the Constitution.
Finally, I oppose petitioner's resort to statistical probability as basis to presume natural-born citizenship in this case. Allow me to point out that these statistics surfaced only in the proceedings before this Court and hence, could not have been weighed and assessed by the COMELEC En Banc at the time it rendered its ruling. Be that as it may, the constitutional requirements for office, especially for the highest office in the land, cannot be based on mere probability. "[M]atters dealing with qualifications for public elective office must be strictly complied with."97 The proof to hurdle a substantial challenge against a candidate's qualifications must therefore be solid. We cannot make a definitive pronouncement on a candidate's citizenship when there is a looming possibility that he/she is not Filipino. Also, the circumstances surrounding petitioner's abandonment, as well as her physical characteristics, hardly assuage this possibility. By parity of reasoning, they do not prove that she was born to a Filipino: her abandonment in the Philippines is just a restatement of her foundling status, while her physical features only tend to prove that her parents likely had Filipino features and yet it remains uncertain if their citizenship was Filipino.
For all of these reasons, I dissent to the majority's ruling that the COMELEC gravely abused its discretion. In the final analysis, my conscience reminds me that the high duty demanded of me - to apply the law according to the parameters set by our previous rulings transcends politics or controversy, popularity or personality. It is a public trust which values nothing higher than fidelity to the Constitution. I, therefore, vote to DISMISS the petitions.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
1 648 Phil. 165 (2010).
2 Id. at 182, citing Pates v. COMELEC, 609 Phil. 260, 265 (2009); emphasis and underscoring supplied.
3Ocate v. COMELEC, 537 Phil. 584, 594-595 (2006); emphasis and underscoring supplied.
4Miranda v. Abaya, 370 Phil. 642 (1999).
5 Id. at 663; emphases and underscoring supplied, citations omitted.
6 See COMELEC En Banc's Resolutions dated December 23, 2015 in SPA No. 15-001 (DC), rollo (G.R. No. 221697), Vol. I, p. 229; and in SPA Nos. 15-002 (DC), 15-007 (DC), and 15-139 (DC), rollo (G.R. Nos. 221698-700), Vol. I, p. 356.
7 See discussions in COMELEC Second Division's Resolution dated December 1, 2015 in SPA No. 15-001 (DC), rollo (G.R. No. 221697), Vol. I, !'P·206-211; and in COMELEC First Division's Resolution dated December 11, 2015 in SPA Nos. 15-002 (DC), 15-007 (DC), and 15-139 (DC), rollo (G.R. Nos. 221698-700), Vol. I, pp. 251-258.
8 See COMELEC En Banc's Resolutions dated December 23, 2015 in SPA No. 15-001 (DC), rollo (G.R. No. 221697), Vol. I, p. 258; and in SPA Nos. 15-002 (DC), 15-007 (DC), and 15-139 (DC), rollo (G.R. Nos. 221698-700), Vol. I, p. 381.
9 Ponencia, p. 44.
10 The assailed rulings are as follows: (a) COMELEC Second Division's Resolution dated December 1, 2015 in SPA No. 15-001 (DC), rollo (G.R. No. 221697), Vol. I, pp. 190-223; (b) COMELEC En Banc's Resolution dated December 23,2015 in SPA No. 15-001 (DC), rollo (G.R. No. 221697), Vol. I, pp. 224-259; (c) COMELEC First Division's Resolution dated December 11,2015 in SPA Nos. 15-002 (DC), 15-007 (DC), and 15-139 (DC), rollo (G.R. Nos. 221698-700), Vol. I, pp. 216-264; and (d) COMELEC En Banc's Resolution dated December 23,2015 in SPA Nos. 15-002 (DC), 15-007 (DC), and 15-139 (DC), rollo (G.R. Nos. 221698-700), Vol. I, pp. 352-381.
11 See ponencia, p. 45.
12 Id. at 16.
14 365 Phil. 386 (1999).
15 Id. at 419-420.
16 621 Phil. 498 (2009).
17 Id. at 510.
18 Entitled "IN THE MATTER OF THE AMENDMENT TO RULES 23,24 AND 25 OF THE COMELEC RULES OF PROCEDURE FOR PURPOSES OF THE 13 MAY 2013 NATIONAL, LOCAL AND ARMM ELECTIONS AND SUBSEQUENT ELECTIONS."
19 "Even without a petition under either Section 12 or Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code, or under Section 40 of the Local Government Code, the COMELEC is under a legal duty to cancel the certificate of candidacy of anyone suffering from the accessory penalty of perpetual special disqualification to run for public office by virtue of a final judgment of conviction. The final judgment of conviction is notice to the COMELEC of the disqualification of the convict from running for public office. The law itself bars the convict from running for public office, and the disqualification is part of the final judgment of conviction. The final judgment ofthe court is addressed not only to the Executive branch, but also to other government agencies tasked to implement the final judgment under the law.
Whether or not the COMELEC is expressly mentioned in the judgment to implement the disqualification, it is assumed that the portion of the final judgment on disqualification to run for elective public office is addressed to the COMELEC because under the Constitution the COMELEC is duty bound to '[e]nforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election.' 24 The disqualification of a convict to run for public office under the Revised Penal Code, as affirmed by final judgment of a competent court, is part of the enforcement and administration of 'all laws' relating to the conduct of elections." (Jalosjos, Jr. v. COMELEC, 696 Phil. 601, 634 .)
20 Bedol v. COMELEC, supra note 16, at 510.
21 (December 3, 1985).
22 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 or (sic) 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.
23Ugdoracion, Jr. v. COMELEC, 575 Phil. 258,261 (2008).
24 Jalover v. Osmeņa, G.R. No. 209286, September 23, 2014, 736 SCRA 267, 282, citing Velasco v. COMELEC, 595 Phil. 1172, 1185 (2008).cralawred
25 G.R. No. 202202, March 19, 2013, 693 SCRA 574.
26 Id. at 592.cralawred
27 See G.R. No. 206698, February 25,2014, 717 SCRA 312.
28 Id. at 320-321, citing Salcedo II v. COMELEC, 371 Phil. 390,389-390 (1999).
29 See Id. at 323.
30 G.R. No. 207900, April22, 2014,723 SCRA 223.
31 See id. at 246, citing Velasco v. COMELEC (supra note 24, at 1185), which, in turn cited, among others, Salcedo II v. COMELEC (supra note 28, at 390).
32 Supra note 24.
33 Id. at 282, citing Ugdoracion, Jr. v. COMELEC (supra note 23, at 261-262), further citing, among others, Salcedo II v. COMELEC (supra note 28, 385-390).
34 Id., citing Mitra v. COMELEC, 636 Phil. 753, 780 (2010).
36 See G.R. No. 207105, November 10,2015.
39 (last visited March 5, 2016).cralawred
40 468 Phil. 421 (2004).
41 G.R. No. 119976, September 18, 1995, 248 SCRA 300, 326.
42 Supra note 28.
43Tecson v. COMELEC, supra note 40, at 606-609; citations omitted.
44 Id. at 607.
45 ld. at 608-609.
46 See paragraphs (1) and (2), Section 2, Article IX-C ofthe 1987 Constitution.
47Tecson v. COMELEC, supra note 40, at 626.
48 See Separate Concurring Opinion of Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin S. Caguioa, joined by Associate Justice Diosdado M. Peralta, p. 3.
49 See Rules 15 and 16 of the 2010 RULES OF THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTORAL TRIBUNAL, A.M. No. 10-4-29-SC dated May 4, 2010. See also Dissenting Opinion of Associate Justice Mariano C. Del Castillo (Justice Del Castillo), p. 28.
50Tecson v. COMELEC, supra note 40, at 460-462.
51Ponencia, p. 45.
52 Ponencia, pp. 37-38.
54 See id. at 39-40.
55 See id. at 40-41.
56Domino v. COMELEC, 369 Phil. 798, 819 (1999).
57 434 Phil. 861 (2002).
58 596 Phil. 354 (2009).
59 See G.R. No. 209835, September 22, 2015.
60 See Coquilla v. COMELEC, supra note 57, at 873-874.
61 Entitled "AN ACT MAKING THE CITIZENSHIP OF PHILIPPINE CITIZENS WHO ACQUIRE FOREIGN CITIZENSHIP PERMANENT. AMENDING FOR THE PURPOSE COMMONWEALTH ACT. NO. 63, As AMENDED AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES," approved on August 29, 2003.
62 Japzon v. COMELEC, supra note 58, at 369.
63 See Caballero v. COMELEC. supra note 59.
64 See ponencia, pp.39-40. See also Associate Justice Arturo D. Brion's Dissenting Opinion, p. 5.
65 Entitled "AN ACT INSTITUTING A BALIKBA YAN PROGRAM," approved on November 3, 1989.
66 Entitled "AN ACT AMENDING REPUBLIC ACT NUMBERED 6768, ENTITLED, 'AN ACT INSTITUTING A BALIKBAYAN PROGRAM, BY PROVIDING ADDITIONAL BENEPITS AND PRIVILEGES TO BALIKBAY AN AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES,'" approved on November 7, 2002.
67 See Petitions in G.R. No. 221697, rollo (G.R. No. 221697), Vol. I, pp. 18-20; and in G.R. Nos. 221698-700, rollo (G.R. Nos. 221698 700), Vol. I, pp. 22-24.
68 See Petitions in G.R. No. 221697, rollo (G.R. No. 221697), Vol. I, p. 22; and in G.R. Nos. 221698-700, rollo (G.R. Nos. 221698 700), Vol. I, p. 27.
69 See rollo (G.R. No. 221698-700), Vol. II, p. 917.
70 See rollo (G.R. No. 221697), Vol. II, pp. 778-794.
71 Id. at 815-816.
72 See Dissenting Opinion of Justice Del Castillo, p. 59.
73 Id. at 60.
74 "In fact, from May 24, 2005 to October 20, 20l0, petitioner did go back to the US no less than five times: February 14, 2006, April 20, 2009, October 19, 2009, December 27, 2009, and March 27, 2010." See id. at 55. See also rollo (G.R. Nos. 221698 700), Vol. I, pp. 30-31.
75 The purpose is "to ensure that the person elected is familiar with the needs and problems of his constituency x x x ."(See Perez v. COMELEC, 375 Phil. 1106, 1119 .)
76Romualdez-Marcos v. COMELEC, supra note 41, at 326.
77 "[G]enerally, a notarized document carries the evidentiary weight conferred upon it with respect to its due execution, and documents acknowledged before a notary public have in their favor the presumption of regularity. In other words, absent any clear and convincing proof to the contrary, a notarized document enjoys the presumption of regularity and is conclusive as to the truthfulness of its contents. (See Vda. de Rojales v. Dime, G.R. No. 194548, February 10, 2016.)
78 See ponencia, pp. 22-23.
79 Bengson III v. House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal, 409 Phil. 633, 646 (2001).
81 See Section 2, Article IV ofthe 1987 Constitution; emphases and underscoring supplied.
82Bengson III v. House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal, supra note 79, at 646.
83Roa v. Collector of Customs, 23 Phil. 315,320-321 (1912).
84 Valles v. COMELEC, 392 Phil. 327, 335 (2000); emphasis and underscoring supplied.
85 ld. at 336-337; emphases and underscoring supplied.
86 "[T]he burden of proof is, in the first instance, with the plaintiff who initiated the action." (Republic v. Vda. de Neri, 468 Phil. 842, 862 .)
87 "[H]e who alleges the affirmative of the issue has the burden of proof, and upon the plaintiff in a civil case, the burden of proof never parts. However, in the course of trial in a civil case, once plaintiff makes out a prima facie case in his [favour], the duty or the burden of evidence shifts to defendant to controvert plaintiff's prima facie case, otherwise, a verdict must be returned in favor of plaintiff." (Vitarich Corporation v. Locsin, 649 PhiL 164, 173 (2010], citing Jison v. Court of Appeals, 350 Phil. 138, 173 .)
88 Petitioner was born on September 3, 1968. See Petitions in G.R. No. 221697, rollo (G.R. No. 221697), Vol. I, p. 14; and in G.R. Nos. 221698-700, rollo (G.R. Nos. 221698-700), Vol. I, p. 17.
89 See Section 3 (e) of "RULE ON ADOPTION," A.M. No. 02-6-02-SC (August 22, 2002); emphasis supplied.
90 See COMELEC Second Division's December 1, 2015 Resolution in SPA No. 15 001 (DC), rollo (G.R. No. 221697), Vol. I, pp. 213-214.
91 See COMELEC Second Division's December 1, 2015 Resolution in SPA No. 15-001 (DC), rollo (G.R. No. 221697), Vol. I, p. 393. See also COMELEC En Banc's December 23, 2015 Resolution in SPA No. 15-001 (DC), id. at 254.
92 See Petitions in G.R. No. 221697, rollo (G.R. No. 221697), Vol. I, pp. 114-116; and in G.R. Nos. 221698-700, rollo (G.R. Nos. 221698-700), Vol. I, pp. 84-86.
93 272 Phil. 147 (1991).
94 Id. at 169-170.
95 Particularly, the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the 1930 Hague Convention on Certain Questions Relating to the Conflict of Nationality Law (1930 Hague Convention), and the 1961 United Nations Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness (UNCRS), among others, positing that it is a generally accepted principle in international law. (See discussions in the Petitions in G.R. No. 221697, rollo (G.R. No. 221697), Vol. I, pp. 137-144 and 151-152; and in G.R. Nos. 221698-700, rollo (G.R. Nos. 221698-700), Vol. I, pp. 109-117 and 124-125.
96Pharmaceutical and Health Care Association of the Philippines v. Health Secretary Duque III, 561 Phil. 386, 397-398 (2007).
97 See Arnado v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 210164, August 18, 2015.