Mercado v. Manzano, 307 SCRA 630, 1999

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G.R. No. 135083 May 26, 1999 EN BANC MENDOZA, J. ERNESTO S. MERCADO vs. EDUARDO BARRIOS MANZANO and the COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS FACTS: Petitioner Ernesto S. Mercado and private respondent Eduardo B. Manzano were candidates for vice mayor of the City of Makati in the May 11, 1998 elections. The other one was Gabriel V. Daza III. The results of the election were as follows: Eduardo B. Manzano - 103,853; Ernesto S. Mercado- 100,894; Gabriel V. Daza III- 54,275. The proclamation of private respondent was suspended in view of a pending petition for disqualification filed by a certain Ernesto Mamaril who alleged that private respondent was not a citizen of the Philippines but of the United States. In its resolution, the Second Division of the COMELEC granted the petition of Mamaril and ordered the cancellation of the certificate of candidacy of private respondent on the ground that he is a dual citizen. COMELEC said: The petition is based on the ground that the respondent is an American citizen based on the record of the Bureau of Immigration and misrepresented himself as a natural-born Filipino citizen. Respondent admitted that he is registered as a foreigner with the Bureau of Immigration under Alien Certificate of Registration No. B31632 and alleged that he is a Filipino citizen because he was born in 1955 of a Filipino father and a Filipino mother. He was born in the United States, San Francisco, California, on September 14, 1955, and is considered an American citizen under US Laws. But notwithstanding his registration as an American citizen, he did not lose his Filipino citizenship. Manzano is both a Filipino and a US citizen. In other words, he holds dual citizenship. Under Section 40(d) of the Local Government Code, those holding dual citizenship are disqualified from running for any elective local position. The COMELEC en banc rendered its resolution reversing the ruling of its Second Division and declared private respondent qualified to run for vice mayor of the City of Makati in the May 11, 1998 elections: “He was also a natural born Filipino citizen by operation of the 1935 Philippine Constitution, as his father and mother were Filipinos at the time of his birth. At the age of six, his parents brought him to the Philippines using an American passport as travel document. His parents also registered him as an alien with the Philippine Bureau of Immigration. He was issued an alien certificate of registration. This, however, did not result in the loss of his Philippine citizenship, as he did not renounce Philippine citizenship and did not take an oath of allegiance to the United States.It is an undisputed fact that when respondent attained the age of majority, he registered himself as a voter, and voted in the elections of 1992, 1995 and 1998, which effectively renounced his US citizenship under American law. Under Philippine law, he no longer had U.S. citizenship.” Pursuant to the resolution of the COMELEC en banc, the board of canvassers proclaimed private respondent as vice mayor of the City of Makati. This is a petition for certiorari seeking to set aside the aforesaid resolution of the COMELEC en banc and to declare private respondent disqualified to hold the office of vice mayor of Makati City. Petitioner contends that – The COMELEC en banc ERRED in holding that: A. Under Philippine law, Manzano was no longer a U.S. citizen when: 1. He renounced his U.S. citizenship when he attained the age of majority when he was already 37 years old; and, 2. He renounced his U.S. citizenship when he (merely) registered himself as a voter and voted in the elections of 1992, 1995 and 1998. B. Manzano is qualified to run for and or hold the elective office of Vice-Mayor of the City of Makati; C. At the time of the May 11, 1998 elections, the resolution of the Second Division adopted on 7 May 1998 was not yet final so that, effectively, petitioner may not be declared the winner even assuming that Manzano is disqualified to run for and hold the elective office of Vice-Mayor of the City of Makati.

ISSUE: WON private respondent Manzano possesses dual citizenship and, if so, whether he is disqualified from being a candidate for vice mayor of Makati City. RATIONALE: The disqualification of private respondent Manzano is being sought under §40 of the Local Government Code of 1991 (R.A. No. 7160), which declares as “disqualified from running for any elective local position: (d) Those with dual citizenship.” This provision is incorporated in the Charter of the City of Makati. Invoking the maxim dura lex sed lex, petitioner, as well as the Solicitor General, who sides with him in this case, contends that through §40(d) of the Local Government Code, Congress has “command[ed] in explicit terms the ineligibility of persons possessing dual allegiance to hold local elective office.” To begin with, dual citizenship is different from dual allegiance. The former arises when, as a result of the concurrent application of the different laws of two or more states, a person is simultaneously considered a national by the said states. Considering the citizenship clause (Art. IV) 1 of our Constitution, it is possible for the following classes of citizens of the Philippines to possess dual citizenship. Dual allegiance refers to the situation in which a person simultaneously owes, by some positive act, loyalty to two or more states. While dual citizenship is involuntary, dual allegiance is the result of an individual’s volition. With respect to dual allegiance, Article IV, §5 of the Constitution provides: “Dual allegiance of citizens is inimical to the national interest and shall be dealt with by law.” Dual allegiance is not dual citizenship. Dual allegiance is larger and more threatening than that of mere double citizenship which is seldom intentional and, perhaps, never insidious. 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. Unlike those with dual allegiance, who must, therefore, be subject to strict process with respect to the termination of their status, for candidates with dual citizenship, it should suffice if, upon the filing of their certificates of candidacy, they elect Philippine citizenship to terminate their status as persons with dual citizenship considering that their condition is the unavoidable consequence of conflicting laws of different states. Dual citizenship is just a reality imposed on us because we have no control of the laws on citizenship of other countries. By electing Philippine citizenship, such candidates at the same time forswear allegiance to the other country of which they are also citizens and thereby terminate their status as dual citizens. It may be that, from the point of view of the foreign state and of its laws, such an individual has not effectively renounced his foreign citizenship. This is similar to the requirement that an applicant for naturalization must renounce “all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty” of which at the time he is a subject or citizen before he can be issued a certificate of naturalization as a citizen of the Philippines. The determination whether such renunciation is valid or fully complies with the provisions of our Naturalization Law lies within the province and is an exclusive prerogative of our courts. The latter should apply the law duly enacted by the legislative department of the Republic. No foreign law may or should interfere with its operation and application. Private respondent was born in San Francisco, California on September 4, 1955, of Filipino parents. Since the Philippines adheres to the principle of jus sanguinis, while the United States follows the doctrine of jus soli, the parties agree that, at birth at least, he was a national both of the Philippines and of the United States. However, the COMELEC en banc held that, by participating in Philippine elections in 1992, 1995, and 1998, private respondent “effectively renounced his U.S. citizenship under American law,” so that now he is solely a Philippine national. 1

(1) Those born of Filipino fathers and/or mothers in foreign countries which follow the principle of jus soli; (2) Those born in the Philippines of Filipino mothers and alien fathers if by the laws of their fathers’ country such children are citizens of that country; (3) Those who marry aliens if by the laws of the latter’s country the former are considered citizens, unless by their act or omission they are deemed to have renounced Philippine citizenship. There may be other situations in which a citizen of the Philippines may, without performing any act, be also a citizen of another state; but the above cases are clearly possible given the constitutional provisions on citizenship.

In holding that by voting in Philippine elections private respondent renounced his American citizenship, the COMELEC must have in mind §349 of the Immigration and Nationality Act of the United States, which provided that “A person who is a national of the United States, whether by birth or naturalization, shall lose his nationality by: . . . (e) Voting in a political election in a foreign state or participating in an election or plebiscite to determine the sovereignty over foreign territory.” To be sure this provision was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in Afroyim v. Rusk as beyond the power given to the U.S. Congress to regulate foreign relations. However, by filing a certificate of candidacy when he ran for his present post, private respondent elected Philippine citizenship and in effect renounced his American citizenship. Until the filing of his certificate of candidacy on March 21, 1998, he had dual citizenship. The acts attributed to him, that he holds an American passport to travel to the United States on April 22, 1997, can be considered simply as the assertion of his American nationality before the termination of his American citizenship. By declaring in his certificate of candidacy that he is a Filipino citizen; that he is not a permanent resident or immigrant of another country; that he will defend and support the Constitution of the Philippines and bear true faith and allegiance thereto and that he does so without mental reservation, private respondent has, as far as the laws of this country are concerned, effectively repudiated his American citizenship and anything which he may have said before as a dual citizen. Private respondent’s oath of allegiance to the Philippines, when considered with the fact that he has spent his youth and adulthood, received his education, practiced his profession as an artist, and taken part in past elections in this country, leaves no doubt of his election of Philippine citizenship. His declarations will be taken upon the faith that he will fulfill his undertaking made under oath. Should he betray that trust, there are enough sanctions for declaring the loss of his Philippine citizenship through expatriation in appropriate proceedings. DISPOSITIVE: Petition for certiorari is DISMISSED for lack of merit.

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