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FRANCISCO, Ma.

Francesca DL
CONFLICTS OF LAW
SECOND DIVISION
LWV CONSTRUCTION CORPORATION,
Petitioner,

G.R. No. 172342


Present:
QUISUMBING, J., Chairperson,
CARPIO MORALES,
CHICO-NAZARIO,*
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,* and
BRION, JJ.

- versus -

MARCELO B. DUPO,
Respondent.

Promulgated:

July 13, 2009


x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
DECISION
QUISUMBING, J.:

Petitioner LWV Construction Corporation appeals the Decision[1] dated December 6,


2005 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 76843 and its Resolution [2] dated April 12,
2006, denying the motion for reconsideration. The Court of Appeals had ruled that under
Article 87 of the Saudi Labor and Workmen Law (Saudi Labor Law), respondent Marcelo Dupo
is entitled to a service award or longevity pay amounting to US$12,640.33.
The antecedent facts are as follows:
Petitioner, a domestic corporation which recruits Filipino workers, hired respondent as
Civil Structural Superintendent to work in Saudi Arabia for its principal, Mohammad Al-Mojil
Group/Establishment (MMG). On February 26, 1992, respondent signed his first overseas
employment contract, renewable after one year. It was renewed five times on the following
dates: May 10, 1993, November 16, 1994, January 22, 1996, April 14, 1997, and March 26,
1998. All were fixed-period contracts for one year. The sixth and last contract stated that
respondents employment starts upon reporting to work and ends when he leaves the work
site. Respondent left Saudi Arabia on April 30, 1999 and arrived in the Philippines on May 1,
1999.

On May 28, 1999, respondent informed MMG, through the petitioner, that he needs to
extend his vacation because his son was hospitalized. He also sought a promotion with
salary adjustment.[3] In reply, MMG informed respondent that his promotion is subject to
managements review; that his services are still needed; that he was issued a plane ticket for
his return flight to Saudi Arabia on May 31, 1999; and that his decision regarding his
employment must be made within seven days, otherwise, MMG will be compelled to cancel
[his] slot.[4]
On July 6, 1999, respondent resigned. In his letter to MMG, he also stated:
xxxx
I am aware that I still have to do a final settlement with the company
and hope that during my more than seven (7) [years] services, as the
Saudi Law stated, I am entitled for a long service award.[5] (Emphasis
supplied.)
xxxx

According

to

respondent,

when

he

followed

up

his

claim

for long

award on December 7, 2000, petitioner informed him that MMG did not respond.

service

[6]

On December 11, 2000, respondent filed a complaint [7] for payment of service
award against petitioner before the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), Regional
Arbitration Branch, Cordillera Administrative Region, Baguio City. In support of his claim,
respondent averred in his position paper that:
xxxx
Under the Law of Saudi Arabia, an employee who rendered at least five
(5) years in a company within the jurisdiction of Saudi Arabia, is entitled to the
so-called long service award which is known to others as longevity pay of at
least one half month pay for every year of service. In excess of five years an
employee is entitled to one month pay for every year of service. In both cases
inclusive of all benefits and allowances.
This benefit was offered to complainant before he went on vacation,
hence, this was engrained in his mind. He reconstructed the computation of
his long service award or longevity pay and he arrived at the following
computation exactly the same with the amount he was previously offered
[which is US$12,640.33].[8] (Emphasis supplied.)
xxxx
Respondent said that he did not grab the offer for he intended to return after his
vacation.

For its part, petitioner offered payment and prescription as defenses. Petitioner
maintained that MMG pays its workers their Service Award or Severance Payevery
conclusion of their Labor Contracts pursuant to Article 87 of the [Saudi Labor Law]. Under
Article 87, payment of the award is at the end or termination of the Labor Contract
concluded for a specific period. Based on the payroll,[9] respondent was already paid
his service award or severance pay for his latest (sixth) employment contract.
Petitioner added that under Article 13 [10] of the Saudi Labor Law, the action to enforce
payment of the service award must be filed within one year from the termination of a labor
contract for a specific period. Respondents six contracts ended when he left Saudi Arabia on
the following dates: April 15, 1993, June 8, 1994,December 18, 1995, March 21, 1997, March
16, 1998 and April 30, 1999. Petitioner concluded that the one-year prescriptive period had
lapsed because respondent filed his complaint on December 11, 2000 or one year and seven
months after his sixth contract ended.[11]
In his June 18, 2001 Decision, [12] the Labor Arbiter ordered petitioner to pay
respondent longevity pay of US$12,640.33 or P648,562.69 and attorneys fees ofP64,856.27
or a total of P713,418.96.[13]
The Labor Arbiter ruled that respondents seven-year employment with MMG had
sufficiently oriented him on the benefits given to workers; that petitioner was unable to
convincingly refute respondents claim that MMG offered him longevity pay before he went
on vacation on May 1, 1999; and that respondents claim was not barred by prescription
since his claim on July 6, 1999, made a month after his cause of action accrued, interrupted
the prescriptive period under the Saudi Labor Law until his claim was categorically denied.
Petitioner appealed. However, the NLRC dismissed the appeal and affirmed the Labor
Arbiters decision.[14] The NLRC ruled that respondent is entitled tolongevity pay which is
different from severance pay.
Aggrieved, petitioner brought the case to the Court of Appeals through a petition for
certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. The Court of Appeals denied the petition and
affirmed the NLRC. The Court of Appeals ruled that service award is the same as longevity
pay, and that the severance pay received by respondentcannot be equated with service
award. The dispositive portion of the Court of Appeals decision reads:
WHEREFORE, finding no grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack
or in (sic) excess of jurisdiction on the part of public respondent NLRC, the

petition is denied. The NLRC decision dated November 29, 2002 as well as and
(sic) its January 31, 2003 Resolution are hereby AFFIRMED in toto.
SO ORDERED.[15]

After its motion for reconsideration was denied, petitioner filed the instant petition
raising the following issues:
I.
WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FINDING
NO GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF
JURISDICTION ON THE PART OF PUBLIC RESPONDENT NATIONAL LABOR
RELATIONS COMMISSION.
II.
WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FINDING
THAT THE SERVICE AWARD OF THE RESPONDENT [HAS] NOT PRESCRIBED
WHEN HIS COMPLAINT WAS FILED ON DECEMBER 11, 2000.
III.
WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN APPLYING
IN THE CASE AT BAR [ARTICLE 1155 OF THE CIVIL CODE].
IV.
WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN APPLYING
ARTICLE NO. 7 OF THE SAUDI LABOR AND WORKMEN LAW TO SUPPORT ITS
FINDING THAT THE BASIS OF THE SERVICE AWARD IS LONGEVITY [PAY] OR
LENGTH OF SERVICE RENDERED BY AN EMPLOYEE.[16]

Essentially, the issue is whether the Court of Appeals erred in ruling that respondent
is entitled to a service award or longevity pay of US$12,640.33 under the provisions of the
Saudi Labor Law. Related to this issue are petitioners defenses of payment and prescription.
Petitioner points out that the Labor Arbiter awarded longevity pay although the Saudi
Labor Law grants no such benefit, and the NLRC confused longevity pay and service
award. Petitioner maintains that the benefit granted by Article 87 of the Saudi Labor Law
is service award which was already paid by MMG each time respondents contract ended.
Petitioner insists that prescription barred respondents claim for service award as the
complaint was filed one year and seven months after the sixth contract ended. Petitioner
alleges that the Court of Appeals erred in ruling that respondents July 6, 1999 claim
interrupted the running of the prescriptive period. Such ruling is contrary to Article 13 of the
Saudi Labor Law which provides that no case or claim relating to any of the rights provided

for under said law shall be heard after the lapse of 12 months from the date of the
termination of the contract.
Respondent counters that he is entitled to longevity pay under the provisions of the
Saudi Labor Law and quotes extensively the decision of the Court of Appeals. He points out
that petitioner has not refuted the Labor Arbiters finding that MMG offered him longevity
pay of US$12,640.33 before his one-month vacation in the Philippines in 1999. Thus, he
submits that such offer indeed exists as he sees no reason for MMG to offer the benefit if no
law grants it.
After a careful study of the case, we are constrained to reverse the Court of
Appeals. We find that respondents service award under Article 87 of the Saudi Labor Law
has already been paid. Our computation will show that the severance pay received by
respondent was his service award.
Article 87 clearly grants a service award. It reads:
Article 87
Where the term of a labor contract concluded for a specified
period comes to an end or where the employer cancels a contract of
unspecified period, the employer shall pay to the workman an award for
the period of his service to be computed on the basis of half a months pay
for each of the first five years and one months pay for each of the subsequent
years. The last rate of pay shall be taken as basis for the computation of the
award. For fractions of a year, the workman shall be entitled to an award
which is proportionate to his service period during that year. Furthermore, the
workman shall be entitled to the service award provided for at the beginning
of this article in the following cases:
A.
B.
C.

If he is called to military service.


If a workman resigns because of marriage or childbirth.
If the workman is leaving the work as a result of a force
majeure beyond his control.[17] (Emphasis supplied.)

Respondent, however, has called the benefit other names such as long service
award and longevity pay. On the other hand, petitioner claimed that the service award is the
same as severance pay. Notably, the Labor Arbiter was unable to specify any law to support
his award of longevity pay.[18] He anchored the award on his finding that respondents
allegations were more credible because his seven-year employment at MMG had sufficiently
oriented him on the benefits given to workers.To the NLRC, respondent is entitled to service
award or longevity pay under Article 87 and that longevity pay is different from severance
pay. The Court of Appeals agreed.

Considering that Article 87 expressly grants a service award, why is it correct to


agree with respondent that service award is the same as longevity pay, and wrong to agree
with petitioner that service award is the same as severance pay? And why would it be
correct to say that service award is severance pay, and wrong to call service award as
longevity pay?
We found the answer in the pleadings and evidence presented. Respondents position
paper mentioned how his long service award or longevity pay is computed: half-months pay
per year of service and one-months pay per year after five years of service. Article 87 has
the same formula to compute the service award.
The payroll submitted by petitioner showed that respondent received severance pay of
SR2,786 for his sixth employment contract covering the period April 21, 1998 toApril 29, 1999.
[19]

The computation below shows that respondents severance pay of SR2,786 was his service

award under Article 87.


Service Award = (SR5,438)[20] + (9 days/365 days)[21] x (SR5,438)
Service Award = SR2,786.04

Respondents service award for the sixth contract is equivalent only to half-months
pay plus the proportionate amount for the additional nine days of service he rendered after
one year. Respondents employment contracts expressly stated that his employment ended
upon his departure from work. Each year he departed from work and successively new
contracts were executed before he reported for work anew. His service was not cumulative.
Pertinently, in Brent School, Inc. v. Zamora,[22] we said that a fixed term is an essential and
natural appurtenance of overseas employment contracts,[23] as in this case. We also said in
that case that under American law, [w]here a contract specifies the period of its duration, it
terminates on the expiration of such period. A contract of employment for a definite period
terminates by its own terms at the end of such period. [24] As it is, Article 72 of the Saudi
Labor Law is also of similar import. It reads:
A labor contract concluded for a specified period shall terminate upon
the expiry of its term. If both parties continue to enforce the contract,
thereafter, it shall be considered renewed for an unspecified period. [25]

Regarding respondents claim that he was offered US$12,640.33 as longevity pay


before he returned to the Philippines on May 1, 1999, we find that he was not candid on this
particular point. His categorical assertion about the offer being engrained in his mind such

that he reconstructed the computation and arrived at the computation exactly the same
with the amount he was previously offered is not only beyond belief. Such assertion is also a
stark departure from his July 6, 1999 letter to MMG where he could only express his hope
that he was entitled to a long service award and where he never mentioned the supposed
previous

offer. Moreover,

respondents

claim

that

his

monthly

compensation

is

SR10,248.92[26] is belied by the payroll which shows that he receives SR5,438 per month.
We therefore emphasize that such payroll should have prompted the lower tribunals
to examine closely respondents computation of his supposed longevity pay before adopting
that computation as their own.
On the matter of prescription, however, we cannot agree with petitioner that
respondents action has prescribed under Article 13 of the Saudi Labor Law. What applies is
Article 291 of our Labor Code which reads:
ART. 291. Money claims. All money claims arising from employeremployee relations accruing during the effectivity of this Code shall be filed
within three (3) years from the time the cause of action accrued; otherwise
they shall be forever barred.
xxxx
In Cadalin v. POEAs Administrator,[27] we held that Article 291 covers all money
claims from employer-employee relationship and is broader in scope than claims arising from
a specific law. It is not limited to money claims recoverable under the Labor Code, but
applies also to claims of overseas contract workers. [28] The following ruling in Cadalin v.
POEAs Administrator is instructive:
First to be determined is whether it is the Bahrain law on prescription
of action based on the Amiri Decree No. 23 of 1976 or a Philippine law on
prescription that shall be the governing law.
Article 156 of the Amiri Decree No. 23 of 1976 provides:
A claim arising out of a contract of employment shall not be actionable
after the lapse of one year from the date of the expiry of the contract x x x.
As a general rule, a foreign procedural law will not be applied in the
forum. Procedural matters, such as service of process, joinder of actions,
period and requisites for appeal, and so forth, are governed by the laws of the
forum. This is true even if the action is based upon a foreign substantive law
(Restatement of the Conflict of Laws, Sec. 685; Salonga, Private International
Law, 131 [1979]).

A law on prescription of actions is sui generis in Conflict of Laws in the


sense that it may be viewed either as procedural or substantive, depending on
the characterization given such a law.
xxxx
However, the characterization of a statute into a procedural or
substantive law becomes irrelevant when the country of the forum has a
borrowing statute. Said statute has the practical effect of treating the foreign
statute of limitation as one of substance (Goodrich, Conflict of Laws, 152-153
[1938]). A borrowing statute directs the state of the forum to apply the foreign
statute of limitations to the pending claims based on a foreign law (Siegel,
Conflicts, 183 [1975]). While there are several kinds of borrowing statutes,
one form provides that an action barred by the laws of the place where it
accrued, will not be enforced in the forum even though the local statute has
not run against it (Goodrich and Scoles, Conflict of Laws, 152-153
[1938]).Section 48 of our Code of Civil Procedure is of this kind. Said Section
provides:
If by the laws of the state or country where the cause of action arose,
the action is barred, it is also barred in the Philippine Islands.
Section 48 has not been repealed or amended by the Civil Code of
the Philippines. Article 2270 of said Code repealed only those provisions of the
Code of Civil Procedure as to which were inconsistent with it. There is no
provision in the Civil Code of the Philippines, which is inconsistent with or
contradictory to Section 48 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Paras, Philippine
Conflict of Laws, 104 [7th ed.]).
In the light of the 1987 Constitution, however, Section 48 [of the Code
of Civil Procedure] cannot be enforced ex proprio vigore insofar as it ordains
the application in this jurisdiction of [Article] 156 of the Amiri Decree No. 23 of
1976.
The courts of the forum will not enforce any foreign claim obnoxious to
the forums public policy x x x. To enforce the one-year prescriptive period of the
Amiri Decree No. 23 of 1976 as regards the claims in question would
contravene the public policy on the protection to labor.[29]
xxxx
Thus, in our considered view, respondents complaint was filed well within the threeyear prescriptive period under Article 291 of our Labor Code. This point, however, has
already been mooted by our finding that respondents service award had been paid, albeit
the payroll termed such payment as severance pay.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Decision dated December 6,
2005 and Resolution dated April 12, 2006, of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 76843, as well
as the Decision dated June 18, 2001 of the Labor Arbiter in NLRC Case No. RAB-CAR-12-0649-00
and the Decision dated November 29, 2002 and Resolution dated January 31, 2003 of the NLRC in

NLRC CA No. 028994-01 (NLRC RAB-CAR-12-0649-00) are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The
Complaint of respondent is hereby DISMISSED.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
KILBERG DOCTRINE
CENTER OF GRAVITY DOCTRINE
FORUM OF NON-CONVENIENCE
SECOND DIVISION
RAYTHEON INTERNATIONAL, G.R. No. 162894
INC.,
Petitioner, Present:
CARPIO, J.,*

Acting Chairperson,

SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,**
- versus - CARPIO MORALES,
TINGA, and
VELASCO, JR., JJ.
STOCKTON W. ROUZIE, JR.,
Respondent. Promulgated:
February 26, 2008
x----------------------------------------------------------------------------x
DECISION
TINGA, J.:
Before this Court is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil
Procedure which seeks the reversal of the Decision[1] and Resolution[2]of the Court of Appeals
in CA-G.R. SP No. 67001 and the dismissal of the civil case filed by respondent against
petitioner with the trial court.

As culled from the records of the case, the following antecedents appear:
Sometime in 1990, Brand Marine Services, Inc. (BMSI), a corporation duly organized
and existing under the laws of the State of Connecticut, United States of America, and
respondent Stockton W. Rouzie, Jr., an American citizen, entered into a contract whereby
BMSI hired respondent as its representative to negotiate the sale of services in several

government projects in the Philippines for an agreed remuneration of 10% of the gross
receipts. On 11 March 1992, respondent secured a service contract with the Republic of
the Philippines on

behalf

of

BMSI

the Mt. Pinatubo eruption and mudflows.

for

the

dredging

of

rivers

affected

by

[3]

On 16 July 1994, respondent filed before the Arbitration Branch of the National Labor
Relations Commission (NLRC) a suit against BMSI and Rust International, Inc. (RUST), Rodney
C. Gilbert and Walter G. Browning for alleged nonpayment of commissions, illegal
termination and breach of employment contract. [4] On 28 September 1995, Labor Arbiter
Pablo C. Espiritu, Jr. rendered judgment ordering BMSI and RUST to pay respondents money
claims.[5] Upon appeal by BMSI, the NLRC reversed the decision of the Labor Arbiter and
dismissed respondents complaint on the ground of lack of jurisdiction. [6] Respondent
elevated the case to this Court but was dismissed in a Resolution dated 26 November 1997.
The Resolution became final and executory on 09 November 1998.

On 8 January 1999, respondent, then a resident of La Union, instituted an action for


damages before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bauang, La Union. The Complaint,
[7]

docketed as Civil Case No. 1192-BG, named as defendants herein petitioner Raytheon

International, Inc. as well as BMSI and RUST, the two corporations impleaded in the earlier
labor case. The complaint essentially reiterated the allegations in the labor case that BMSI
verbally employed respondent to negotiate the sale of services in government projects and
that respondent was not paid the commissions due him from the Pinatubo dredging project
which he secured on behalf of BMSI. The complaint also averred that BMSI and RUST as well
as petitioner itself had combined and functioned as one company.
In its Answer,[8] petitioner alleged that contrary to respondents claim, it was a foreign
corporation duly licensed to do business in the Philippines and denied entering into any
arrangement with respondent or paying the latter any sum of money. Petitioner also denied
combining with BMSI and RUST for the purpose of assuming the alleged obligation of the
said companies.[9] Petitioner also referred to the NLRC decision which disclosed that per the
written agreement between respondent and BMSI and RUST, denominated as Special Sales
Representative Agreement, the rights and obligations of the parties shall be governed by the
laws of the State of Connecticut. [10] Petitioner sought the dismissal of the complaint on

grounds of failure to state a cause of action and forum non conveniens and prayed for
damages by way of compulsory counterclaim.[11]
On 18 May 1999, petitioner filed an Omnibus Motion for Preliminary Hearing Based on
Affirmative Defenses and for Summary Judgment[12] seeking the dismissal of the complaint
on grounds of forum non conveniens and failure to state a cause of action. Respondent
opposed the same. Pending the resolution of the omnibus motion, the deposition of Walter
Browning was taken before the Philippine Consulate General in Chicago.[13]
In an Order[14] dated 13 September 2000, the RTC denied petitioners omnibus motion.
The trial court held that the factual allegations in the complaint, assuming the same to be
admitted, were sufficient for the trial court to render a valid judgment thereon. It also ruled
that the principle of forum non conveniens was inapplicable because the trial court could
enforce judgment on petitioner, it being a foreign corporation licensed to do business in
the Philippines.[15]

Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration [16] of the order, which motion was
opposed by respondent.[17] In an Order dated 31 July 2001,[18] the trial court denied
petitioners motion. Thus, it filed a Rule 65 Petition [19] with the Court of Appeals praying for
the issuance of a writ of certiorari and a writ of injunction to set aside the twin orders of the
trial court dated 13 September 2000 and 31 July 2001 and to enjoin the trial court from
conducting further proceedings.[20]
On 28 August 2003, the Court of Appeals rendered the assailed Decision [21] denying
the petition for certiorari for lack of merit. It also denied petitioners motion for
reconsideration in the assailed Resolution issued on 10 March 2004.[22]
The appellate court held that although the trial court should not have confined itself
to the allegations in the complaint and should have also considered evidencealiunde in
resolving petitioners omnibus motion, it found the evidence presented by petitioner, that is,
the deposition of Walter Browning, insufficient for purposes of determining whether the
complaint failed to state a cause of action. The appellate court also stated that it could not
rule one way or the other on the issue of whether the corporations, including

petitioner, named as defendants in the case had indeed merged together based solely on
the evidence presented by respondent. Thus, it held that the issue should be threshed out
during trial.[23] Moreover, the appellate court deferred to the discretion of the trial court when
the latter decided not to desist from assuming jurisdiction on the ground of the
inapplicability of the principle of forum non conveniens.
Hence, this petition raising the following issues:
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN REFUSING TO
DISMISS THE COMPLAINT FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CAUSE OF ACTION
AGAINST RAYTHEON INTERNATIONAL, INC.
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN REFUSING TO
DISMISS THE COMPLAINT ON THE GROUND OF FORUM NON CONVENIENS.[24]

Incidentally, respondent failed to file a comment despite repeated notices. The


Ceferino Padua Law Office, counsel on record for respondent, manifested that the lawyer
handling the case, Atty. Rogelio Karagdag, had severed relations with the law firm even
before the filing of the instant petition and that it could no longer find the whereabouts of
Atty. Karagdag or of respondent despite diligent efforts. In a Resolution [25] dated 20
November 2006, the Court resolved to dispense with the filing of a comment.
The instant petition lacks merit.

Petitioner mainly asserts that the written contract between respondent and BMSI
included a valid choice of law clause, that is, that the contract shall be governed by the laws
of the State of Connecticut. It also mentions the presence of foreign elements in the dispute
namely, the parties and witnesses involved are American corporations and citizens and the
evidence to be presented is located outside the Philippines that renders our local courts
inconvenient forums. Petitioner theorizes that the foreign elements of the dispute
necessitate the immediate application of the doctrine of forum non conveniens.
Recently in Hasegawa v. Kitamura,[26] the Court outlined three consecutive phases
involved in judicial resolution of conflicts-of-laws problems, namely: jurisdiction, choice of
law, and recognition and enforcement of judgments. Thus, in the instances [27] where the

Court held that the local judicial machinery was adequate to resolve controversies with a
foreign element, the following requisites had to be proved: (1) that the Philippine Court is
one to which the parties may conveniently resort; (2) that the Philippine Court is in a
position to make an intelligent decision as to the law and the facts; and (3) that the
Philippine Court has or is likely to have the power to enforce its decision. [28]

On the matter of jurisdiction over a conflicts-of-laws problem where the case is filed
in a Philippine court and where the court has jurisdiction over the subject matter, the parties
and the res, it may or can proceed to try the case even if the rules of conflict-of-laws or the
convenience of the parties point to a foreign forum. This is an exercise of sovereign
prerogative of the country where the case is filed.[29]
Jurisdiction over the nature and subject matter of an action is conferred by the
Constitution and the law[30] and by the material allegations in the complaint, irrespective of
whether or not the plaintiff is entitled to recover all or some of the claims or reliefs sought
therein.[31] Civil Case No. 1192-BG is an action for damages arising from an alleged breach of
contract. Undoubtedly, the nature of the action and the amount of damages prayed are
within the jurisdiction of the RTC.
As regards jurisdiction over the parties, the trial court acquired jurisdiction over
herein respondent (as party plaintiff) upon the filing of the complaint. On the other hand,
jurisdiction over the person of petitioner (as party defendant) was acquired by its voluntary
appearance in court.[32]

That the subject contract included a stipulation that the same shall be governed by
the laws of the State of Connecticut does not suggest that the Philippine courts, or any other
foreign tribunal for that matter, are precluded from hearing the civil action. Jurisdiction and
choice of law are two distinct concepts. Jurisdiction considers whether it is fair to cause a
defendant to travel to this state; choice of law asks the further question whether the
application of a substantive law which will determine the merits of the case is fair to both
parties.[33] The choice of law stipulation will become relevant only when the substantive

issues of the instant case develop, that is, after hearing on the merits proceeds before the
trial court.
Under the doctrine of forum non conveniens, a court, in conflicts-of-laws cases, may
refuse impositions on its jurisdiction where it is not the most convenient or available forum
and the parties are not precluded from seeking remedies elsewhere. [34] Petitioners
averments of the foreign elements in the instant case are not sufficient to oust the trial court
of its jurisdiction over Civil Case No. No. 1192-BG and the parties involved.
Moreover, the propriety of dismissing a case based on the principle of forum
non conveniens requires a factual determination; hence, it is more properly considered as a
matter of defense. While it is within the discretion of the trial court to abstain from assuming
jurisdiction on this ground, it should do so only after vital facts are established, to determine
whether special circumstances require the courts desistance.[35]
Finding no grave abuse of discretion on the trial court, the Court of Appeals respected
its conclusion that it can assume jurisdiction over the dispute notwithstanding its foreign
elements. In the same manner, the Court defers to the sound discretion of the lower courts
because their findings are binding on this Court.
Petitioner also contends that the complaint in Civil Case No. 1192-BG failed to state a
cause of action against petitioner. Failure to state a cause of action refers to the insufficiency
of allegation in the pleading.[36] As a general rule, the elementary test for failure to state a
cause of action is whether the complaint alleges facts which if true would justify the relief
demanded.[37]
The complaint alleged that petitioner had combined with BMSI and RUST to function
as one company. Petitioner contends that the deposition of Walter Browning rebutted this
allegation. On this score, the resolution of the Court of Appeals is instructive, thus:
x x x Our examination of the deposition of Mr. Walter Browning as well
as other documents produced in the hearing shows that these
evidence aliunde are not quite sufficient for us to mete a ruling that the
complaint fails to state a cause of action.

Annexes A to E by themselves are not substantial, convincing and


conclusive proofs that Raytheon Engineers and Constructors, Inc. (REC)
assumed the warranty obligations of defendant Rust International in
the Makar Port Project in General Santos City, after Rust International ceased
to exist after being absorbed by REC. Other documents already submitted in
evidence are likewise meager to preponderantly conclude that Raytheon
International, Inc., Rust International[,] Inc. and Brand Marine Service, Inc.
have combined into one company, so much so that Raytheon International,
Inc., the surviving company (if at all) may be held liable for the obligation of
BMSI to respondent Rouzie for unpaid commissions. Neither these documents
clearly speak otherwise.[38]

As correctly pointed out by the Court of Appeals, the question of whether petitioner,
BMSI and RUST merged together requires the presentation of further evidence, which only a
full-blown trial on the merits can afford.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition for review on certiorari is DENIED. The Decision and
Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 67001 are hereby AFFIRMED. Costs
against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
JURISDICTION
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 159926

January 20, 2014

PINAUSUKAN SEAFOOD HOUSE, ROXAS BOULEY ARD, INC., Petitioner,


vs.
FAR EAST BANK & TRUST COMPANY, NOW BANK OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS AND
HECTOR I. GALURA,Respondents.
DECISION
BERSAMIN, J.:
Extrinsic fraud, as a ground for the annulment of a judgment, must emanate from an act of
the adverse party, and the fraud must be of such nature as to have deprived the petitioner

of its day in court. The fraud is not extrinsic if the act was committed by the petitioner's own
counsel.
The Case
This appeal seeks to undo the dismissal by the Court of Appeals (CA) of the petitioner's
action for annulment of judgment through the assailed resolution promulgated on July 31,
2003,1 as well as the denial of its motion for reconsideration on September 12, 2003. 2
Antecedents
On various dates in 1993, Bonier de Guzman (Bonier), then the President of petitioner
corporation (Pinausukan, for short), executed four real estate mortgages involving the
petitioners 517 square meter parcel of land situated in Pasay City 3 in favor of Far East Bank
and Trust Company (now Bank of Philippine Islands), to be referred to herein as the Bank.
The parcel of land was registered in Transfer Certificate of Title No. 126636 of the Register of
Deeds of Pasay City under the name of Pinausukan. 4 When the unpaid obligation secured by
the mortgages had ballooned to P15,129,303.67 as of June 2001, the Bank commenced
proceedings for the extrajudicial foreclosure of the mortgages on August 13, 2001 in the
Office of the Ex Officio Sheriff, Regional Trial Court (RTC), in Pasay City. 5 Two weeks
thereafter, the sheriff issued the notice of sheriffs sale, setting the public auction on
October 8, 2001 at the main entrance of the Hall of Justice of Pasay City. 6
Learning of the impending sale of its property by reason of the foreclosure of the mortgages,
Pinausukan, represented by Zsae Carrie de Guzman, brought against the Bank and the
sheriff an action for the annulment of real estate mortgages in the RTC on October 4, 2001
(Civil Case No. 01-0300), averring that Bonier had obtained the loans only in his personal
capacity and had constituted the mortgages on the corporate asset without Pinausukans
consent through a board resolution. The case was assigned to Branch 108. 7 Pinausukan
applied for the issuance of a temporary restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction to
enjoin the Bank and the sheriff from proceeding with the extrajudicial foreclosure and the
public auction.
In the ensuing trial of Civil Case No. 01-0300, Pinausukan presented Zsae Carrie de Guzman
as its first witness on May 30, 2002. However, the subsequent hearing dates were reset
several times. In August 2002, the parties informed the RTC about their attempts to settle
the case.
The counsels of the parties did not appear in court on the hearing scheduled on September
5, 2002 despite having agreed thereto. Accordingly, on October 31, 2002, the RTC dismissed
Civil Case No. 01-0300 for failure to prosecute.8 The order of dismissal attained finality. 9
On June 24, 2003, the sheriff issued a notice of extrajudicial sale concerning the property of
Pinausukan.10 The notice was received by Pinausukan a week later.
Claiming surprise over the turn of events, Pinausukan inquired from the RTC and learned that
Atty. Michael Dale Villaflor (Atty. Villaflor), its counsel of record, had not informed it about the
order of dismissal issued on October 31, 2002.

On July 24, 2003, Pinausukan brought the petition for annulment in the CA seeking the
nullification of the order of October 31, 2002 dismissing Civil Case No. 01-0300. Its petition,
under the verification of Roxanne de Guzman-San Pedro (Roxanne), who was one of its
Directors, and concurrently its Executive Vice President for Finance and Treasurer, stated
that its counsel had been guilty of gross and palpable negligence in failing to keep track of
the case he was handling, and in failing to apprise Pinausukan of the developments on the
case. It further pertinently stated as follows:
6. Inquiry from counsel, Atty. Michael Dale T. Villaflor disclosed that although the
Registry Return Receipt indicated that he received the Order on November 28, 2002,
according to him, as of said date, he no longer holds office at 12th Floor, Ever
Gotesco Corporate Center, 1958 C.M. Recto Avenue, Manila but has transferred to
Vecation (sic) Club, Inc., with office address 10th Floor Rufino Tower, Ayala Avenue,
Makati City. Petitioner was never notified of the change of office and address of its
attorney.
7. The palpable negligence of counsel to keep track of the case he was handling
constituted professional misconduct amounting to extrinsic fraud properly warranting
the annulment of the Order dated October 31, 2003 as petitioner was unduly
deprived of its right to present evidence in Civil Case No. 01-0300 through no fault of
its own.11
On July 31, 2003, the CA dismissed the petition for annulment, 12 citing the failure to attach
the affidavits of witnesses attesting to and describing the alleged extrinsic fraud supporting
the cause of action as required by Section 4, Rule 47 of the Rules of Court; and observing
that the verified petition related only to the correctness of its allegations, a requirement
entirely different and separate from the affidavits of witnesses required under Rule 47 of the
Rules of Court.
On September 12, 2003,13 the CA denied Pinausukans motion for reconsideration.
Issue
Pinausukan posits that the requirement for attaching the affidavits of witnesses to the
petition for annulment should be relaxed; that even if Roxanne had executed the required
affidavit as a witness on the extrinsic fraud, she would only repeat therein the allegations
already in the petition, thereby duplicating her allegations under her oath; that the
negligence of Atty. Villaflor, in whom it entirely relied upon, should not preclude it from
obtaining relief; and that it needed a chance to prove in the RTC that Bonier had no right to
mortgage its property.
Ruling
The appeals lacks merit.
1.
Nature and statutory requirements for an action to annul a judgment or final order

The remedy of annulment of judgment has been long authorized and sanctioned in the
Philippines. In Banco Espaol-Filipino v. Palanca,14 of 1918 vintage, the Court, through Justice
Street, recognized that there were only two remedies available under the rules of procedure
in force at the time to a party aggrieved by a decision of the Court of First Instance (CFI) that
had already attained finality, namely: that under Sec. 113, Code of Civil Procedure, which
was akin to the petition for relief from judgment under Rule 38, Rules of Court; and that
under Sec. 513, Code of Civil Procedure, which stipulated that the party aggrieved under a
judgment rendered by the CFI "upon default" and who had been "deprived of a hearing by
fraud, accident, mistake or excusable negligence" and the CFI had "finally adjourned so that
no adequate remedy exists in that court" could "present his petition to the Supreme Court
within sixty days after he first learns of the rendition of such judgment, and not thereafter,
setting forth the facts and praying to have judgment set aside."15 It categorically ruled out a
mere motion filed for that purpose in the same action as a proper remedy.
The jurisdiction over the action for the annulment of judgment had been lodged in the CFI as
a court of general jurisdiction on the basis that the subject matter of the action was not
capable of pecuniary estimation. Section 56, paragraph 1, of Act No. 136 (An Act providing
for the Organization of Courts in the Philippine Islands), effective on June 11, 1901, vested
original jurisdiction in the CFI over "all civil actions in which the subject of litigations is not
capable of pecuniary estimation." The CFI retained its jurisdiction under Section 44(a) of
Republic Act No. 296 (The Judiciary Act of 1948), effective on June 17, 1948, which contained
a similar provision vesting original jurisdiction in the CFI over "all civil actions in which the
subject of the litigation is not capable of pecuniary estimation."
In the period under the regimes of Act No. 136 and Republic Act No. 296, the issues centered
on which CFI, or branch thereof, had the jurisdiction over the action for the annulment of
judgment. It was held in Mas v. Dumara-og16 that "the power to open, modify or vacate a
judgment is not only possessed by, but is restricted to the court in which the judgment was
rendered." In J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. v. Torres,17 the Court declared that "the jurisdiction to
annul a judgment of a branch of the Court of First Instance belongs solely to the very same
branch which rendered the judgment." In Sterling Investment Corporation v. Ruiz, 18 the Court
enjoined a branch of the CFI of Rizal from taking cognizance of an action filed with it to annul
the judgment of another branch of the same court.
In Dulap v. Court of Appeals,19 the Court observed that the philosophy underlying the
pronouncements in these cases was the policy of judicial stability, as expressed in Dumaraog, to the end that the judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction could not be interfered
with by any court of concurrent jurisdiction. Seeing that the pronouncements in Dumara-og,
J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. and Sterling Investment confining the jurisdiction to annul a judgment
to the court or its branch rendering the judgment would "practically amount to judicial
legislation," the Court found the occasion to re-examine the pronouncements. Observing
that the plaintiffs cause of action in an action to annul the judgment of a court "springs from
the alleged nullity of the judgment based on one ground or another, particularly fraud, which
fact affords the plaintiff a right to judicial interference in his behalf," and that that the two
cases were distinct and separate from each other because "the cause of action (to annul
judgment) is entirely different from that in the action which gave rise to the judgment
sought to be annulled, for a direct attack against a final and executory judgment is not
incidental to, but is the main object of, the proceeding," the Court concluded that "there is

no plausible reason why the venue of the action to annul the judgment should necessarily
follow the venue of the previous action" if the outcome was not only to violate the existing
rule on venue for personal actions but also to limit the opportunity for the application of
such rule on venue for personal actions.20The Court observed that the doctrine under
Dumara-og, J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. and Sterling Investment could then very well "result in
the difficulties precisely sought to be avoided by the rules; for it could be that at the time of
the filing of the second action for annulment, neither the plaintiff nor the defendant resides
in the same place where either or both of them did when the first action was commenced
and tried," thus unduly depriving the parties of the right expressly given them by the Rules
of Court "to change or transfer venue from one province to another by written agreement a
right conferred upon them for their own convenience and to minimize their expenses in the
litigation and renders innocuous the provision on waiver of improper venue in Section 4 (of
Rule 4 of the Revised Rules of Court)."21 The Court eventually ruled:
Our conclusion must therefore be that a court of first instance or a branch thereof has the
authority and jurisdiction to take cognizance of, and to act in, a suit to annul a final and
executory judgment or order rendered by another court of first instance or by another
branch of the same court. The policy of judicial stability, which underlies the doctrine laid
down in the cases of Dumara-og, J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. and Sterling Investment
Corporation, et al., supra, should be held subordinate to an orderly administration of justice
based on the existing rules of procedure and the law.22 x x x
In 1981, the Legislature enacted Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 (Judiciary Reorganization Act of
1980).23 Among several innovations of this legislative enactment was the formal
establishment of the annulment of a judgment or final order as an action independent from
the generic classification of litigations in which the subject matter was not capable of
pecuniary estimation, and expressly vested the exclusive original jurisdiction over such
action in the CA.24 The action in which the subject of the litigation was incapable of
pecuniary estimation continued to be under the exclusive original jurisdiction of the RTC,
which replaced the CFI as the court of general jurisdiction. 25 Since then, the RTC no longer
had jurisdiction over an action to annul the judgment of the RTC, eliminating all concerns
about judicial stability. To implement this change, the Court introduced a new procedure to
govern the action to annul the judgment of the RTC in the 1997 revision of the Rules of Court
under Rule 47, directing in Section 2 thereof that "[t]he annulment may be based only on
the grounds of extrinsic fraud and lack of jurisdiction."26
The Court has expounded on the nature of the remedy of annulment of judgment or final
order in Dare Adventure Farm Corporation v. Court of Appeals,27 viz:
A petition for annulment of judgment is a remedy in equity so exceptional in nature that it
may be availed of only when other remedies are wanting, and only if the judgment, final
order or final resolution sought to be annulled was rendered by a court lacking jurisdiction or
through extrinsic fraud. Yet, the remedy, being exceptional in character, is not allowed to be
so easily and readily abused by parties aggrieved by the final judgments, orders or
resolutions. The Court has thus instituted safeguards by limiting the grounds for the
annulment to lack of jurisdiction and extrinsic fraud, and by prescribing in Section 1 of Rule
47 of the Rules of Court that the petitioner should show that the ordinary remedies of new
trial, appeal, petition for relief or other appropriate remedies are no longer available through

no fault of the petitioner. A petition for annulment that ignores or disregards any of the
safeguards cannot prosper.
The attitude of judicial reluctance towards the annulment of a judgment, final order or final
resolution is understandable, for the remedy disregards the time-honored doctrine of
immutability and unalterability of final judgments, a solid corner stone in the dispensation of
justice by the courts. The doctrine of immutability and unalterability serves a two-fold
purpose, namely: (a) to avoid delay in the administration of justice and thus, procedurally, to
make orderly the discharge of judicial business; and (b) to put an end to judicial
controversies, at the risk of occasional errors, which is precisely why the courts exist. As to
the first, a judgment that has acquired finality becomes immutable and unalterable and is no
longer to be modified in any respect even if the modification is meant to correct an
erroneous conclusion of fact or of law, and whether the modification is made by the court
that rendered the decision or by the highest court of the land. As to the latter, controversies
cannot drag on indefinitely because fundamental considerations of public policy and sound
practice demand that the rights and obligations of every litigant must not hang in suspense
for an indefinite period of time.
The objective of the remedy of annulment of judgment or final order is to undo or set aside
the judgment or final order, and thereby grant to the petitioner an opportunity to prosecute
his cause or to ventilate his defense. If the ground relied upon is lack of jurisdiction, the
entire proceedings are set aside without prejudice to the original action being refiled in the
proper court.28 If the judgment or final order or resolution is set aside on the ground of
extrinsic fraud, the CA may on motion order the trial court to try the case as if a timely
motion for new trial had been granted therein.29 The remedy is by no means an appeal
whereby the correctness of the assailed judgment or final order is in issue; hence, the CA is
not called upon to address each error allegedly committed by the trial court. 30
Given the extraordinary nature and the objective of the remedy of annulment of judgment or
final order, Pinausukan must be mindful of and should closely comply with the following
statutory requirements for the remedy as set forth in Rule 47 of the Rules of Court.
The first requirement prescribes that the remedy is available only when the petitioner can no
longer resort to the ordinary remedies of new trial, appeal, petition for relief or other
appropriate remedies through no fault of the petitioner.31 This means that the remedy,
although seen as "a last remedy,"32 is not an alternative to the ordinary remedies of new
trial, appeal and petition for relief. The petition must aver, therefore, that the petitioner
failed to move for a new trial, or to appeal, or to file a petition for relief without fault on his
part. But this requirement to aver is not imposed when the ground for the petition is lack of
jurisdiction (whether alleged singly or in combination with extrinsic fraud), simply because
the judgment or final order, being void, may be assailed at any time either collaterally or by
direct action or by resisting such judgment or final order in any action or proceeding
whenever it is invoked, unless the ground of lack of jurisdiction is meanwhile barred by
laches.33
The second requirement limits the ground for the action of annulment of judgment to either
extrinsic fraud or lack of jurisdiction.

Not every kind of fraud justifies the action of annulment of judgment. Only extrinsic fraud
does.1wphi1 Fraud is extrinsic, according to Cosmic Lumber Corporation v. Court of
Appeals,34 "where the unsuccessful party has been prevented from exhibiting fully his case,
by fraud or deception practiced on him by his opponent, as by keeping him away from court,
a false promise of a compromise; or where the defendant never had knowledge of the suit,
being kept in ignorance by the acts of the plaintiff; or where an attorney fraudulently or
without authority connives at his defeat; these and similar cases which show that there has
never been a real contest in the trial or hearing of the case are reasons for which a new suit
may be sustained to set aside and annul the former judgment and open the case for a new
and fair hearing."
The overriding consideration when extrinsic fraud is alleged is that the fraudulent scheme of
the prevailing litigant prevented the petitioner from having his day in court. 35 Nonetheless,
extrinsic fraud shall not be a valid ground if it was availed of, or could have been availed of,
in a motion for new trial or petition for relief.36
In contrast, intrinsic fraud refers to the acts of a party at a trial that prevented a fair and just
determination of the case, but the difference is that the acts or things, like falsification and
false testimony, could have been litigated and determined at the trial or adjudication of the
case.37 In other words, intrinsic fraud does not deprive the petitioner of his day in court
because he can guard against that kind of fraud through so many means, including a
thorough trial preparation, a skillful cross-examination, resorting to the modes of discovery,
and proper scientific or forensic applications. Indeed, forgery of documents and evidence for
use at the trial and perjury in court testimony have been regarded as not preventing the
participation of any party in the proceedings, and are not, therefore, constitutive of extrinsic
fraud.38
Lack of jurisdiction on the part of the trial court in rendering the judgment or final order is
either lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter or nature of the action, or lack of
jurisdiction over the person of the petitioner. The former is a matter of substantive law
because statutory law defines the jurisdiction of the courts over the subject matter or nature
of the action. The latter is a matter of procedural law, for it involves the service of summons
or other process on the petitioner. A judgment or final order issued by the trial court without
jurisdiction over the subject matter or nature of the action is always void, and, in the words
of Justice Street in Banco Espaol-Filipino v. Palanca,39 "in this sense it may be said to be a
lawless thing, which can be treated as an outlaw and slain at sight, or ignored wherever and
whenever it exhibits its head."40 But the defect of lack of jurisdiction over the person, being
a matter of procedural law, may be waived by the party concerned either expressly or
impliedly.
The third requirement sets the time for the filing of the action. The action, if based on
extrinsic fraud, must be filed within four years from the discovery of the extrinsic fraud; and
if based on lack of jurisdiction, must be brought before it is barred by laches or estoppel.
Laches is the failure or neglect for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time to do
that which by exercising due diligence could nor should have been done earlier; it is
negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time, warranting a presumption
that the party entitled to assert it either has abandoned it or declined to assert it. 41 Its other

name is stale demands, and it is based upon grounds of public policy that requires, for the
peace of society, the discouragement of stale claims and, unlike the statute of limitations, is
not a mere question of time but is principally a question of the inequity or unfairness of
permitting a right or claim to be enforced or asserted.42 The existence of four elements must
be shown in order to validate laches as a defense, to wit: (a) conduct on the part of the
defendant, or of one under whom a claim is made, giving rise to a situation for which a
complaint is filed and a remedy sought; (b) delay in asserting the rights of the complainant,
who has knowledge or notice of the defendants conduct and has been afforded an
opportunity to institute a suit; (c) lack of knowledge or notice on the part of the defendant
that the complainant will assert the right on which the latter has based the suit; and (d)
injury or prejudice to the defendant in the event that the complainant is granted a relief or
the suit is not deemed barred.43
Estoppel precludes a person who has admitted or made a representation about something
as true from denying or disproving it against anyone else relying on his admission or
representation.44 Thus, our law on evidence regards estoppel as conclusive by stating that
"whenever a party has, by his own declaration, act, or omission, intentionally and
deliberately led another to believe a particular thing true, and to act upon such belief, he
cannot, in any litigation arising out of such declaration, act or omission, be permitted to
falsify it."45
The fourth requirement demands that the petition should be verified, and should allege with
particularity the facts and the law relied upon for annulment, as well as those supporting the
petitioners good and substantial cause of action or defense, as the case may be. 46 The need
for particularity cannot be dispensed with because averring the circumstances constituting
either fraud or mistake with particularity is a universal requirement in the rules of
pleading.47 The petition is to be filed in seven clearly legible copies, together with sufficient
copies corresponding to the number of respondents, and shall contain essential submissions,
specifically: (a) the certified true copy of the judgment or final order or resolution, to be
attached to the original copy of the petition intended for the court and indicated as such by
the petitioner;48 (b) the affidavits of witnesses or documents supporting the cause of action
or defense; and (c) the sworn certification that the petitioner has not theretofore
commenced any other action involving the same issues in the Supreme Court, the CA or the
different divisions thereof, or any other tribunal or agency; if there is such other action or
proceeding, he must state the status of the same, and if he should thereafter learn that a
similar action or proceeding has been filed or is pending before the Supreme Court, the CA,
or different divisions thereof, or any other tribunal or agency, he undertakes to promptly
inform the said courts and other tribunal or agency thereof within five days therefrom. 49
The purpose of these requirements of the sworn verification and the particularization of the
allegations of the extrinsic fraud in the petition, of the submission of the certified true copy
of the judgment or final order or resolution, and of the attachment of the affidavits of
witnesses and documents supporting the cause of action or defense is to forthwith bring all
the relevant facts to the CAs cognizance in order to enable the CA to determine whether or
not the petition has substantial merit. Should it find prima facie merit in the petition, the CA
shall give the petition due course and direct the service of summons on the respondent;
otherwise, the CA has the discretion to outrightly dismiss the petition for annulment. 50

2.
Pinausukans petition for annulment was
substantively and procedurally defective
A review of the dismissal by the CA readily reveals that Pinausukans petition for annulment
suffered from procedural and substantive defects.
The procedural defect consisted in Pinausukans disregard of the fourth requirement
mentioned earlier consisting in its failure to submit together with the petition the affidavits
of witnesses or documents supporting the cause of action. It is true that the petition, which
narrated the facts relied upon, was verified under oath by Roxanne. However, the
submission of the affidavits of witnesses together with the petition was not dispensable for
that reason. We reiterate with approval the CAs emphatic observation in the resolution of
July 31, 2003 dismissing the petition for annulment to the effect that Roxannes verification
related only "to the correctness of the allegations in the petition" and was "not the same or
equivalent to the affidavit of witnesses that the above-cited Rule requires." 51To us, indeed,
the true office of the verification is merely to secure an assurance that the allegations of a
pleading are true and correct and not the product of the imagination or a matter of
speculation, and that the pleading is filed in good faith. 52
Pinausukans failure to include the affidavits of witnesses was fatal to its petition for
annulment.1wphi1 Worthy to reiterate is that the objective of the requirements of
verification and submission of the affidavits of witnesses is to bring all the relevant facts that
will enable the CA to immediately determine whether or not the petition has substantial
merit. In that regard, however, the requirements are separate from each other, for only by
the affidavits of the witnesses who had competence about the circumstances constituting
the extrinsic fraud can the petitioner detail the extrinsic fraud being relied upon as the
ground for its petition for annulment. This is because extrinsic fraud cannot be presumed
from the recitals alone of the pleading but needs to be particularized as to the facts
constitutive of it. The distinction between the verification and the affidavits is made more
pronounced when an issue is based on facts not appearing of record. In that instance, the
issue may be heard on affidavits or depositions presented by the respective parties, subject
to the court directing that the matter be heard wholly or partly on oral testimony or
depositions.53
The substantive defect related to the supposed neglect of Atty. Villaflor to keep track of the
case, and to his failure to apprise Pinausukan of the developments in the case, which the CA
did not accept as constituting extrinsic fraud, because
Based solely on these allegations, we do not see any basis to give due course to the petition
as these allegations do not speak of the extrinsic fraud contemplated by Rule 47. Notably,
the petitions own language states that what is involved in this case is mistake and gross
negligence of petitioners own counsel. The petition even suggests that the negligence of
counsel may constitute professional misconduct (but this is a matter for lawyer and client to
resolve). What is certain, for purposes of the application of Rule 47, is that mistake and gross
negligence cannot be equated to the extrinsic fraud that Rule 47 requires to be the ground
for an annulment of judgment. By its very nature, extrinsic fraud relates to a cause that is
collateral in character, i.e., it relates to any fraudulent act of the prevailing party in litigation

which is committed outside of the trial of the case, where the defeated party has been
prevented from presenting fully his side of the cause, by fraud or deception practiced on him
by his opponent. Even in the presence of fraud, annulment will not lie unless the fraud is
committed by the adverse party, not by ones own lawyer. In the latter case, the remedy of
the client is to proceed against his own lawyer and not to re-litigate the case where
judgment had been rendered.54
We concur with the CA. Verily, such neglect of counsel, even if it was true, did not amount to
extrinsic fraud because it did not emanate from any act of FEBTC as the prevailing party,
and did not occur outside the trial of the case. Moreover, the failure to be fully aware of the
developments in the case was Pinausukan's own responsibility. As a litigant, it should not
entirely leave the case in the hands of its counsel, for it had the continuing duty to keep
itself abreast of the developments if only to protect its own interest in the litigation. It could
have discharged its duty by keeping in regular touch with its counsel, but it did not.
Consequently, it has only itself to blame.
WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS the assailed resolutions of the Court of Appeals
promulgated on July 31, 2003 and September 12, 2003; and ORDERS the petitioner to pay
the costs of suit.
SO ORDERED.
THEORIES WHY SHOULD APPLY FOREIGN LAWS
THEORY OF COMITY
FIRST DIVISION
COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL
REVENUE, Petitioner,

- versus -

PILIPINAS SHELL PETROLEUM


CORPORATION,
Respondent.

G.R. No. 188497


Present:
CORONA, C.J.,
Chairperson,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
BERSAMIN,
DEL CASTILLO, and
VILLARAMA, JR., JJ.
Promulgated:

April 25, 2012


x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x
DECISION
VILLARAMA, JR., J.:

Petitioner Commissioner of Internal Revenue appeals the Decision [1] dated March 25, 2009
and Resolution[2] dated June 24, 2009 of the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA)En Banc in CTA EB
No. 415. The CTA dismissed the petition for review filed by petitioner assailing the CTA First
Divisions Decision[3] dated April 25, 2008 and Resolution[4] dated July 10, 2008 which ordered
petitioner to refund the excise taxes paid by respondent Pilipinas Shell Petroleum
Corporation on petroleum products it sold to international carriers.
The facts are not disputed.
Respondent is engaged in the business of processing, treating and refining petroleum for the
purpose of producing marketable products and the subsequent sale thereof. [5]
On July 18, 2002, respondent filed with the Large Taxpayers Audit & Investigation Division II
of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) a formal claim for refund or tax credit in the total
amount of P28,064,925.15, representing excise taxes it allegedly paid on sales and
deliveries of gas and fuel oils to various international carriers during the period October to
December 2001. Subsequently, on October 21, 2002, a similar claim for refund or tax credit
was filed by respondent with the BIR covering the period January to March 2002 in the
amount of P41,614,827.99. Again, on July 3, 2003, respondent filed another formal claim for
refund or tax credit in the amount ofP30,652,890.55 covering deliveries from April to June
2002.[6]
Since no action was taken by the petitioner on its claims, respondent filed petitions for
review before the CTA on September 19, 2003 and December 23, 2003, docketed as CTA
Case Nos. 6775 and 6839, respectively.
In its decision on the consolidated cases, the CTAs First Division ruled that respondent is
entitled to the refund of excise taxes in the reduced amount ofP95,014,283.00. The CTA First
Division relied on a previous ruling rendered by the CTA En Banc in the case of Pilipinas Shell
Petroleum Corporation v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue [7] where the CTA also granted
respondents claim for refund on the basis of excise tax exemption for petroleum products
sold to international carriers of foreign registry for their use or consumption outside the
Philippines. Petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied by the CTA First Division.
Petitioner elevated the case to the CTA En Banc which upheld the ruling of the First
Division. The CTA pointed out the specific exemption mentioned under Section 135 of

the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997 (NIRC) of petroleum products sold to
international carriers such as respondents clients. It said that this Courts ruling in Maceda v.
Macaraig, Jr.[8] is inapplicable because said case only put to rest the issue of whether or not
the National Power Corporation (NPC) is subject to tax considering that NPC is a tax-exempt
entity mentioned in Sec. 135 (c) of the NIRC (1997), whereas the present case involves the
tax exemption of the sale of petroleum under Sec. 135 (a) of the same Code. Further, the
CTA said that the ruling in Philippine Acetylene Co., Inc. v. Commissioner of Internal
Revenue[9]likewise finds no application because the party asking for the refund in said case
was the seller-producer based on the exemption granted under the law to the tax-exempt
buyers, NPC and Voice of America (VOA), whereas in this case it is the article or product
which is exempt from tax and not the international carrier.
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration which the CTA likewise denied.
Hence, this petition anchored on the following grounds:
I
SECTION 148 OF THE NATIONAL INTERNAL REVENUE CODE EXPRESSLY
SUBJECTS THE PETROLEUM PRODUCTS TO AN EXCISE TAX BEFORE THEY ARE
REMOVED FROM THE PLACE OF PRODUCTION.
II
THE ONLY SPECIFIC PROVISION OF THE LAW WHICH GRANTS TAX CREDIT OR
TAX REFUND OF THE EXCISE TAXES PAID REFERS TO THOSE CASES WHERE
GOODS LOCALLY PRODUCED OR MANUFACTURED ARE ACTUALLY EXPORTED
WHICH IS NOT SO IN THIS CASE.

III
THE PRINCIPLES LAID DOWN IN MACEDA VS. MACARAIG, JR. AND PHILIPPINE
ACETYLENE CO. VS. CIR ARE APPLICABLE TO THIS CASE.[10]

The Solicitor General argues that the obvious intent of the law is to grant excise tax
exemption to international carriers and exempt entities as buyers of petroleum products and
not to the manufacturers or producers of said goods. Since the excise taxes are collected
from manufacturers or producers before removal of the domestic products from the place of
production, respondent paid the subject excise taxes as manufacturer or producer of the
petroleum products pursuant to Sec. 148 of the NIRC. Thus, regardless of who the
buyer/purchaser is, the excise tax on petroleum products attached to the said goods before
their sale or delivery to international carriers, as in fact respondent averred that it paid the
excise tax on its petroleum products when it withdrew petroleum products from its place of
production for eventual sale and delivery to various international carriers as well as to other
customers.[11] Sec. 135 (a) and (c) granting exemption from the payment of excise tax on
petroleum products can only be interpreted to mean that the respondent cannot pass on to
international carriers and exempt agencies the excise taxes it paid as a manufacturer or
producer.
As to whether respondent has the right to file a claim for refund or tax credit for the excise
taxes it paid for the petroleum products sold to international carriers, the Solicitor General
contends that Sec. 130 (D) is explicit on the circumstances under which a taxpayer may
claim for a refund of excise taxes paid on manufactured products, which express
enumeration did not include those excise taxes paid on petroleum products which were
eventually sold to international carriers (expressio unius est exclusio alterius). Further, the
Solicitor General asserts that contrary to the conclusion made by the CTA, the principles laid
down

by

this

Court

in Maceda

v.

Macaraig,

Jr.[12] and Philippine

Acetylene

Co.

v.

Commissioner of Internal Revenue [13] are applicable to this case. Respondent must shoulder
the excise taxes it previously paid on petroleum products which it later sold to international
carriers because it cannot pass on the tax burden to the said international carriers which
have been granted exemption under Sec. 135 (a) of the NIRC. Considering that respondent
failed to prove an express grant of a right to a tax refund, such claim cannot be implied;
hence, it must be denied.
On the other hand, respondent maintains that since petroleum products sold to qualified
international carriers are exempt from excise tax, no taxes should be imposed on the article,

to which goods the tax attaches, whether in the hands of the said international carriers or
the petroleum manufacturer or producer. As these excise taxes have been erroneously paid
taxes, they can be recovered under Sec. 229 of the NIRC. Respondent contends that
contrary to petitioners assertion, Sections 204 and 229 authorizes respondent to maintain a
suit or proceeding to recover such erroneously paid taxes on the petroleum products sold to
tax-exempt international carriers.
As to the jurisprudence cited by the petitioner, respondent argues that they are not
applicable to the case at bar. It points out that Maceda v. Macaraig, Jr. is an adjudication on
the issue of tax exemption of NPC from direct and indirect taxes given the passage of
various laws relating thereto. What was put in issue in said case was NPCs right to claim for
refund of indirect taxes. Here, respondents claim for refund is not anchored on the
exemption of the buyer from direct and indirect taxes but on the tax exemption of the goods
themselves under Sec. 135. Respondent further stressed that in Maceda v. Macaraig, Jr., this
Court recognized that if NPC purchases oil from oil companies, NPC is entitled to claim
reimbursement from the BIR for that part of the purchase price that represents excise taxes
paid by the oil company to the BIR. Philippine Acetylene Co. v. CIR, on the other hand,
involved sales tax, which is a tax on the transaction, which this Court held as due from the
seller even if such tax cannot be passed on to the buyers who are tax-exempt entities. In
this case, the excise tax is a tax on the goods themselves. While indeed it is the
manufacturer who has the duty to pay the said tax, by specific provision of law, Sec. 135,
the goods are stripped of such tax under the circumstances provided therein.Philippine
Acetylene Co., Inc. v. CIR was thus not anchored on an exempting provision of law but
merely on the argument that the tax burden cannot be passed on to someone.
Respondent further contends that requiring it to shoulder the burden of excise taxes
on petroleum products sold to international carriers would effectively defeat the principle of
international comity upon which the grant of tax exemption on aviation fuel used in
international flights was founded. If the excise taxes paid by respondent are not allowed to
be refunded or credited based on the exemption provided in Sec. 135 (a), respondent avers
that the manufacturers or oil companies would then be constrained to shift the tax burden to
international carriers in the form of addition to the selling price.
Respondent cites as an analogous case Commissioner of International Revenue v.
Tours Specialists, Inc.[14] which involved the inclusion of hotel room charges remitted by
partner foreign tour agents in respondent TSIs gross receipts for purposes of computing the

3% contractors tax. TSI opposed the deficiency assessment invoking, among others,
Presidential Decree No. 31, which exempts foreign tourists from paying hotel room tax. This
Court upheld the CTA in ruling that while CIR may claim that the 3% contractors tax is
imposed upon a different incidence, i.e., the gross receipts of the tourist agency which he
asserts includes the hotel room charges entrusted to it, the effect would be to impose a tax,
and though different, it nonetheless imposes a tax actually on room charges. One way or the
other, said the CTA, it would not have the effect of promoting tourism in the Philippines as
that would increase the costs or expenses by the addition of a hotel room tax in the overall
expenses of said tourists.
The instant petition squarely raised the issue of whether respondent as manufacturer
or producer of petroleum products is exempt from the payment of excise tax on such
petroleum products it sold to international carriers.
In the previous cases[15] decided by this Court involving excise taxes on petroleum
products sold to international carriers, what was only resolved is the question of who is the
proper party to claim the refund of excise taxes paid on petroleum products if such tax was
either paid by the international carriers themselves or incorporated into the selling price of
the petroleum products sold to them. We have ruled in the said cases that the statutory
taxpayer, the local manufacturer of the petroleum products who is directly liable for the
payment of excise tax on the said goods, is the proper party to seek a tax refund. Thus, a
foreign airline company who purchased locally manufactured petroleum products for use in
its international flights, as well as a foreign oil company who likewise bought petroleum
products from local manufacturers and later sold these to international carriers, have no
legal personality to file a claim for tax refund or credit of excise taxes previously paid by the
local manufacturers even if the latter passed on to the said buyers the tax burden in the
form of additional amount in the price.
Excise taxes, as the term is used in the NIRC, refer to taxes applicable to certain
specified goods or articles manufactured or produced in the Philippines for domestic sales or
consumption or for any other disposition and to things imported into the Philippines. These
taxes are imposed in addition to the value-added tax (VAT). [16]
As to petroleum products, Sec. 148 provides that excise taxes attach to the following
refined and manufactured mineral oils and motor fuels as soon as they are in existence as
such:

(a) Lubricating oils and greases;


(b) Processed gas;
(c) Waxes and petrolatum;
(d) Denatured alcohol to be used for motive power;
(e) Naphtha, regular gasoline and other similar products of distillation;
(f) Leaded premium gasoline;
(g) Aviation turbo jet fuel;
(h) Kerosene;
(i) Diesel fuel oil, and similar fuel oils having more or less the same
generating power;
(j) Liquefied petroleum gas;
(k) Asphalts; and
(l) Bunker fuel oil and similar fuel oils having more or less the same
generating capacity.

Beginning January 1, 1999, excise taxes levied on locally manufactured petroleum


products and indigenous petroleum are required to be paid before their removal from the
place of production.[17] However, Sec. 135 provides:
SEC. 135. Petroleum Products Sold to International Carriers and
Exempt Entities or Agencies. Petroleum products sold to the following are
exempt from excise tax:
(a) International carriers of Philippine or foreign registry on their use or
consumption outside the Philippines: Provided, That the petroleum products
sold to these international carriers shall be stored in a bonded storage tank
and may be disposed of only in accordance with the rules and regulations to
be prescribed by the Secretary of Finance, upon recommendation of the
Commissioner;
(b) Exempt entities or agencies covered by tax treaties, conventions
and other international agreements for their use or consumption: Provided,
however, That the country of said foreign international carrier or exempt
entities or agencies exempts from similar taxes petroleum products sold to
Philippine carriers, entities or agencies; and
(c) Entities which are by law exempt from direct and indirect taxes.

Respondent claims it is entitled to a tax refund because those petroleum products it sold to
international carriers are not subject to excise tax, hence the excise taxes it paid upon

withdrawal of those products were erroneously or illegally collected and should not have
been paid in the first place. Since the excise tax exemption attached to the petroleum
products themselves, the manufacturer or producer is under no duty to pay the excise tax
thereon.
We disagree.
Under Chapter II Exemption or Conditional Tax-Free Removal of Certain Goods of Title VI,
Sections 133, 137, 138, 139 and 140 cover conditional tax-free removal of specified goods
or articles, whereas Sections 134 and 135 provide for tax exemptions. While the exemption
found in Sec. 134 makes reference to the nature and quality of the goods manufactured
(domestic denatured alcohol) without regard to the tax status of the buyer of the said goods,
Sec. 135 deals with the tax treatment of a specified article (petroleum products) in relation
to its buyer or consumer. Respondents failure to make this important distinction apparently
led it to mistakenly assume that the tax exemption under Sec. 135 (a) attaches to the goods
themselves such that the excise tax should not have been paid in the first place.
On July
[18]

96

26,

1996,

petitioner

Commissioner

issued

Revenue

Regulations

8-

(Excise Taxation of Petroleum Products) which provides:


SEC. 4. Time and Manner of Payment of Excise Tax on Petroleum
Products, Non-Metallic Minerals and Indigenous Petroleum
I. Petroleum Products

xxxx
a) On locally manufactured petroleum products
The specific tax on petroleum products locally manufactured or
produced in the Philippines shall be paid by the manufacturer,
producer, owner or person having possession of the same, and such
tax shall be paid within fifteen (15) days from date of removal from the
place of production. (Underscoring supplied.)

Thus, if an airline company purchased jet fuel from an unregistered supplier who
could not present proof of payment of specific tax, the company is liable to pay the specific
tax on the date of purchase.[19] Since the excise tax must be paid upon withdrawal from the
place of production, respondent cannot anchor its claim for refund on the theory that the
excise taxes due thereon should not have been collected or paid in the first place.

Sec. 229 of the NIRC allows the recovery of taxes erroneously or illegally collected. An
erroneous or illegal tax is defined as one levied without statutory authority, or upon
property not subject to taxation or by some officer having no authority to levy the tax, or
one which is some other similar respect is illegal.[20]
Respondents locally manufactured petroleum products are clearly subject to excise tax
under Sec. 148. Hence, its claim for tax refund may not be predicated on Sec. 229 of the
NIRC allowing a refund of erroneous or excess payment of tax. Respondents claim is
premised on what it determined as a tax exemption attaching to the goods themselves,
which must be based on a statute granting tax exemption, or the result of legislative grace.
Such a claim is to be construed strictissimi juris against the taxpayer, meaning that the
claim cannot be made to rest on vague inference. Where the rule of strict interpretation
against the taxpayer is applicable as the claim for refund partakes of the nature of an
exemption, the claimant must show that he clearly falls under the exempting statute. [21]
The exemption from excise tax payment on petroleum products under Sec. 135 (a) is
conferred on international carriers who purchased the same for their use or consumption
outside the Philippines. The only condition set by law is for these petroleum products to be
stored in a bonded storage tank and may be disposed of only in accordance with the rules
and regulations to be prescribed by the Secretary of Finance, upon recommendation of the
Commissioner.
On January 22, 2008, or five years after the sale by respondent of the subject petroleum
products, then Secretary of Finance Margarito B. Teves issued Revenue Regulations No. 32008 Amending Certain Provisions of Existing Revenue Regulations on the Granting of
Outright Excise Tax Exemption on Removal of Excisable Articles Intended for Export or
Sale/Delivery to International Carriers or to Tax-Exempt Entities/Agencies and Prescribing the
Provisions for Availing Claims for Product Replenishment. Said issuance recognized the tax
relief to which the taxpayers are entitled by availing of the following remedies: (a) a claim
for excise tax exemption pursuant to Sections 204 and 229 of the NIRC; or (2) a product
replenishment.
SEC. 2. IMPOSITION OF EXCISE TAX ON REMOVAL OF EXCISABLE
ARTICLES FOR EXPORT OR SALE/DELIVERY TO INTERNATIONAL CARRIERS AND
OTHER TAX-EXEMPT ENTITIES/AGENCIES. Subject to the subsequent filing
of a claim for excise tax credit/refund or product replenishment, all
manufacturers of articles subject to excise tax under Title VI of the NIRC of
1997, as amended, shall pay the excise tax that is otherwise due on every

removal thereof from the place of production that is intended for exportation
or sale/delivery to international carriers or to tax-exempt entities/agencies:
Provided, That in case the said articles are likewise being sold in the domestic
market, the applicable excise tax rate shall be the same as the excise tax rate
imposed on the domestically sold articles.
In the absence of a similar article that is being sold in the domestic
market, the applicable excise tax shall be computed based on the value
appearing in the manufacturers sworn statement converted to Philippine
currency, as may be applicable.
x x x x (Emphasis supplied.)
In this case, however, the Solicitor General has adopted a position contrary to existing BIR
regulations and rulings recognizing the right of oil companies to seek a refund of excise
taxes paid on petroleum products they sold to international carriers. It is argued that there is
nothing in Sec. 135 (a) which explicitly grants exemption from the payment of excise tax in
favor of oil companies selling their petroleum products to international carriers and that the
only claim for refund of excise taxes authorized by the NIRC is the payment of excise tax on
exported goods, as explicitly provided in Sec. 130 (D), Chapter I under the same Title VI:
(D) Credit for Excise Tax on Goods Actually Exported. -- When goods
locally produced or manufactured are removed and actually exported without
returning to the Philippines, whether so exported in their original state or as
ingredients or parts of any manufactured goods or products, any excise tax
paid thereon shall be credited or refunded upon submission of the proof of
actual exportation and upon receipt of the corresponding foreign exchange
payment: Provided, That the excise tax on mineral products, except coal and
coke, imposed under Section 151 shall not be creditable or refundable even if
the mineral products are actually exported.
According to the Solicitor General, Sec. 135 (a) in relation to the other provisions on excise
tax and from the nature of indirect taxation, may only be construed as prohibiting the
manufacturers-sellers of petroleum products from passing on the tax to international carriers
by incorporating previously paid excise taxes into the selling price. In other words,
respondent cannot shift the tax burden to international carriers who are allowed to purchase
its petroleum products without having to pay the added cost of the excise tax.
We agree with the Solicitor General.
In Philippine Acetylene Co., Inc. v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue [22] this Court held that
petitioner manufacturer who sold its oxygen and acetylene gases to NPC, a tax-exempt
entity, cannot claim exemption from the payment of sales tax simply because its buyer NPC

is exempt from taxation. The Court explained that the percentage tax on sales of
merchandise imposed by the Tax Code is due from the manufacturer and not from the buyer.
Respondent attempts to distinguish this case from Philippine Acetylene Co., Inc. on grounds
that what was involved in the latter is a tax on the transaction (sales) and not excise tax
which is a tax on the goods themselves, and that the exemption sought therein was
anchored merely on the tax-exempt status of the buyer and not a specific provision of law
exempting the goods sold from the excise tax. But as already stated, the language of Sec.
135

indicates

that

the

tax

specified buyers or consumers of

exemption
the

mentioned

excisable

articles

therein
or

is

conferred

goods

on

(petroleum

products). Unlike Sec. 134 which explicitly exempted the article or goods itself (domestic
denatured alcohol) without due regard to the tax status of the buyer or purchaser, Sec. 135
exempts from excise tax petroleum products which were sold to international carriers and
other tax-exempt agencies and entities.
Considering that the excise taxes attaches to petroleum products as soon as they are
in existence as such,[23] there can be no outright exemption from the payment of excise tax
on petroleum products sold to international carriers. The sole basis then of respondents
claim for refund is the express grant of excise tax exemption in favor of international carriers
under Sec. 135 (a) for their purchases of locally manufactured petroleum products. Pursuant
to our ruling in Philippine Acetylene, a tax exemption being enjoyed by the buyer cannot be
the basis of a claim for tax exemption by the manufacturer or seller of the goods for any tax
due to it as the manufacturer or seller. The excise tax imposed on petroleum products under
Sec. 148 is the direct liability of the manufacturer who cannot thus invoke the excise tax
exemption granted to its buyers who are international carriers.
In Maceda v. Macaraig, Jr.,[24] the Court specifically mentioned excise tax as an
example of an indirect tax where the tax burden can be shifted to the buyer:
On the other hand, indirect taxes are taxes primarily paid by persons who can
shift the burden upon someone else. For example, the excise and ad
valorem taxes that the oil companies pay to the Bureau of Internal Revenue
upon removal of petroleum products from its refinery can be shifted to its
buyer, like the NPC, by adding them to the cash and/or selling price.

An excise tax is basically an indirect tax. Indirect taxes are those that are demanded, in the
first instance, from, or are paid by, one person in the expectation and intention that he can

shift the burden to someone else. Stated elsewise, indirect taxes are taxes wherein the
liability for the payment of the tax falls on one person but the burden thereof can be shifted
or passed on to another person, such as when the tax is imposed upon goods before
reaching the consumer who ultimately pays for it.When the seller passes on the tax to his
buyer, he, in effect, shifts the tax burden, not the liability to pay it, to the purchaser as part
of the price of goods sold or services rendered. [25]
Further, in Maceda v. Macaraig, Jr., the Court ruled that because of the tax
exemptions privileges being enjoyed by NPC under existing laws, the tax burden may not be
shifted to it by the oil companies who shall pay for fuel oil taxes on oil they supplied to
NPC. Thus:
In view of all the foregoing, the Court rules and declares that the oil
companies which supply bunker fuel oil to NPC have to pay the taxes imposed
upon said bunker fuel oil sold to NPC. By the very nature of indirect taxation,
the economic burden of such taxation is expected to be passed on through
the channels of commerce to the user or consumer of the goods
sold.Because, however, the NPC has been exempted from both direct
and indirect taxation, the NPC must be held exempted from
absorbing the economic burden of indirect taxation. This means, on
the one hand, that the oil companies which wish to sell to NPC
absorb all or part of the economic burden of the taxes previously
paid to BIR, which they could shift to NPC if NPC did not enjoy
exemption from indirect taxes. This means also, on the other hand, that
the NPC may refuse to pay that part of the normal purchase price of bunker
fuel oil which represents all or part of the taxes previously paid by the oil
companies to BIR. If NPC nonetheless purchases such oil from the oil
companies because to do so may be more convenient and ultimately
less costly for NPC than NPC itself importing and hauling and storing the oil
from overseas NPC is entitled to be reimbursed by the BIR for that part of the
buying price of NPC which verifiably represents the tax already paid by the oil
company-vendor to the BIR.[26] (Emphasis supplied.)

In the case of international air carriers, the tax exemption granted under Sec. 135 (a) is
based on a long-standing international consensus that fuel used for international air services
should be tax-exempt. The provisions of the 1944 Convention of International Civil Aviation
or the Chicago Convention, which form binding international law, requires the contracting
parties not to charge duty on aviation fuel already on board any aircraft that has arrived in
their territory from another contracting state.Between individual countries, the exemption of
airlines from national taxes and customs duties on a range of aviation-related goods,
including parts, stores and fuel is a standard element of the network of bilateral Air Service
Agreements.[27] Later, a Resolution issued by the International Civil Aviation Organization
(ICAO) expanded the provision as to similarly exempt from taxes all kinds of fuel taken on

board for consumption by an aircraft from a contracting state in the territory of another
contracting State departing for the territory of any other State. [28] Though initially aimed at
establishing uniformity of taxation among parties to the treaty to prevent double taxation,
the tax exemption now generally applies to fuel used in international travel by both
domestic and foreign carriers.
On April 21, 1978, then President Ferdinand E. Marcos issued Presidential Decree (P.D.) No.
1359:
PRESIDENTIAL DECREE No. 1359
AMENDING SECTION 134 OF THE NATIONAL INTERNAL REVENUE CODE
OF 1977.
WHEREAS, under the present law oil products sold to international
carriers are subject to the specific tax;
WHEREAS, some countries allow the sale of petroleum products to
Philippine Carriers without payment of taxes thereon;
WHEREAS, to foster goodwill and better relationship with foreign
countries, there is a need to grant similar tax exemption in favor of foreign
international carriers;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, FERDINAND E. MARCOS, President of
the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested in me by the Constitution, do
hereby order and decree the following:
Section 1. Section 134 of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1977 is
hereby amended to read as follows:
Sec. 134. Articles subject to specific tax. Specific internal
revenue taxes apply to things manufactured or produced in the
Philippines for domestic sale or consumption and to things
imported, but not to anything produced or manufactured here
which shall be removed for exportation and is actually exported
without returning to the Philippines, whether so exported in its
original state or as an ingredient or part of any manufactured
article or product.
HOWEVER, PETROLEUM PRODUCTS SOLD TO AN
INTERNATIONAL CARRIER FOR ITS USE OR CONSUMPTION
OUTSIDE OF THE PHILIPPINES SHALL NOT BE SUBJECT TO
SPECIFIC TAX, PROVIDED, THAT THE COUNTRY OF SAID CARRIER
EXEMPTS FROM TAX PETROLEUM PRODUCTS SOLD TO
PHILIPPINE CARRIERS.
In case of importations the internal revenue tax shall be
in addition to the customs duties, if any.

Section 2. This Decree shall take effect immediately.


Contrary to respondents assertion that the above amendment to the former provision
of the 1977 Tax Code supports its position that it was not liable for excise tax on the
petroleum products sold to international carriers, we find that no such inference can be
drawn from the words used in the amended provision or its introductory part. Founded on
the principles of international comity and reciprocity, P.D. No. 1359 granted exemption from
payment of excise tax but only to foreign international carriers who are allowed to purchase
petroleum products free of specific tax provided the country of said carrier also grants tax
exemption to Philippine carriers. Both the earlier amendment in the 1977 Tax Code and the
present Sec. 135 of the 1997 NIRC did not exempt the oil companies from the payment of
excise tax on petroleum products manufactured and sold by them to international carriers.
Because an excise tax is a tax on the manufacturer and not on the purchaser, and there
being no express grant under the NIRC of exemption from payment of excise tax to local
manufacturers of petroleum products sold to international carriers, and absent any provision
in the Code authorizing the refund or crediting of such excise taxes paid, the Court holds
that Sec. 135 (a) should be construed as prohibiting the shifting of the burden of the excise
tax

to

the

international

carriers

who

buys

petroleum

products

from

the

local

manufacturers. Said provision thus merely allows the international carriers to purchase
petroleum products without the excise tax component as an added cost in the price fixed by
the manufacturers or distributors/sellers. Consequently, the oil companies which sold such
petroleum products to international carriers are not entitled to a refund of excise taxes
previously paid on the goods.
Time and again, we have held that tax refunds are in the nature of tax exemptions
which result to loss of revenue for the government. Upon the person claimingan exemption
from tax payments rests the burden of justifying the exemption by words too plain to be
mistaken and too categorical to be misinterpreted, [29] it is never presumed[30] nor be allowed
solely on the ground of equity. [31] These exemptions, therefore, must not rest on vague,
uncertain or indefinite inference, but should be granted only by a clear and unequivocal
provision of law on the basis of language too plain to be mistaken. Such exemptions must be
strictly construed against the taxpayer, as taxes are the lifeblood of the government. [32]
WHEREFORE, the petition for review on certiorari is GRANTED. The Decision dated
March 25, 2009 and Resolution dated June 24, 2009 of the Court of Tax Appeals En Banc in

CTA EB No. 415 are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The claims for tax refund or credit
filed by respondent Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation are DENIED for lack of basis.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
THEORY OF VESTED RIGHTS
SPECIAL SECOND DIVISION
FIL-ESTATE PROPERTIES, INC. G.R. No. 173942
and FAIRWAYS AND BLUE-WATERS
RESORT AND COUNTRY CLUB,
INC., Present:
Petitioners,
Chairperson,
- versus - CARPIO,
CARPIO MORALES,

QUISUMBING, J.,

TINGA, and
VELASCO, JR., JJ.
HON. MARIETTA J. HOMENAVALENCIA, in her capacity as
Presiding Judge of Branch 1, Promulgated:
Regional Trial Court, Kalibo,
Aklan, and SULLIAN SY NAVAL, June 25, 2008
Respondents.
x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
RESOLUTION
TINGA, J.:
For resolution is a Motion for Reconsideration[1] dated 19 November 2007 filed by petitioners
Fil-Estate Properties, Inc. and Blue-waters Resort and Country Club, seeking reconsideration
of the Decision[2] of this Court dated 15 October 2007 which denied their petition.
A brief recapitulation of the relevant facts, even though they have already been narrated in
the Decision, is in order.

In 1998, private respondent Sullian Sy Naval filed a complaint [3] against petitioners,
seeking the recovery of a parcel of land which petitioners had allegedly taken possession of

by constructing a golf course within the vicinity of her property. Counsel for petitioners failed
to attend the pre-trial, and only private respondent presented evidence before the Regional
Trial Court (RTC) of Aklan which heard the complaint. The RTC rendered a decision [4] in favor
of private respondent of which petitioners moved for reconsideration.

The crux of the present matter lies with the facts surrounding the motion for reconsideration.
The motion was filed on 10 May 2000,[5] thirteen (13) days after petitioners received their
copy of the RTCs decision. On 26 July 2000, the RTC issued an order [6] of even date denying
the motion. Petitioners alleged in their petition that they received the order denying the
motion for reconsideration on 9 August 2000. They filed a Notice of Appeal on 11 August
2000,[7] but the postal moneyorders purchased and obtained to pay the filing fee were
posted

only on 25 August 2000, or beyond the reglementary period to perfect the appeal.
Consequently, the RTC denied the appeal[8] and such denial was sustained by the Court of
Appeals after petitioners filed a special civil action for certiorari [9] assailing the RTCs refusal
to give due course to the appeal.

The Petition[10] before this Court relied on a rather idiosyncratic theory that only upon the
adoption of the amendments to Section 13, Rule 41 of the Rules of Civil Procedure effective
1 May 2000 did it become obligatory on the part of trial courts to dismiss appeals on account
of the failure to pay the full docket fees. The Court, in its 15 October 2007 Decision,
[11]

rejected this theory and reaffirmed the rule ordaining the disallowance of the appeal or

notice of appeal when the docket fee is not paid in full within the period for taking the
appeal.

The present Motion for Reconsideration[12] centers on a different line of argument: that
following our 2005 decision in Neypes v. Court of Appeals,[13] their Notice of Appeal was
perfected on time as the full docket fees were paid within fifteen (15) days from their receipt
of the RTCs order denying their motion for reconsideration.Neypes has established a new
rule whereby an appellant is granted a fresh 15-day period, reckoned from receipt of the
order denying the motion for reconsideration, within which to perfect the appeal.

Petitioners clarify that they received the RTCs order denying their motion for reconsideration
on 11 August 2005,[14] a fact which is confirmed by the case records even though the petition
had misstated that said order was received on 9 August 2005. Petitioners argue that
following Neypes, they were entitled to a new 15-day period, i.e., until 26 August 2005 or
one (1) day after they had posted the full appellate docket fees, to perfect the appeal.

Most vitally, petitioners point out that on 10 October 2007, or just five (5) days before the
promulgation of the assailed Decision, the Court through the Third Division rendered a

decision in Sps. De los Santos v. Vda. De Mangubat[15] declaring that the Neypes ruling
indeed can be retroactively applied to prior instances.
Private respondent filed her Comment [16] on the Motion for Reconsideration. She insists
that Neypes should not be retroactively applied, but she fails to cite any authority on that
argument or otherwise contend with the ruling in Sps. De los Santos.

The determinative issue is whether the fresh period rule announced in Neypes could
retroactively apply in cases where the period for appeal had lapsed prior to 14 September
2005 when Neypes was promulgated. That question may be answered with the guidance of
the general rule that procedural laws may be given retroactive effect to actions pending and
undetermined at the time of their passage, there being no vested rights in the rules of
procedure.[17] Amendments to procedural rules are procedural or remedial in character as
they do not create new or remove vested rights, but only operate in furtherance of the
remedy or confirmation of rights already existing.[18]
Sps. De los Santos reaffirms these principles and categorically warrants that Neypes bears
the quested retroactive effect, to wit:
Procedural law refers to the adjective law which prescribes rules and
forms of procedure in order that courts may be able to administer
justice. Procedural laws do not come within the legal conception of a
retroactive law, or the general rule against the retroactive operation of statues
they may be given retroactive effect on actions pending and undetermined
at the time of their passage and this will not violate any right of a person who
may feel that he is adversely affected, insomuch as there are no vested rights
in rules of procedure.
The fresh period rule is a procedural law as it prescribes a fresh period
of 15 days within which an appeal may be made in the event that the motion
for reconsideration is denied by the lower court. Following the rule on
retroactivity of procedural laws, the fresh period rule should be applied to
pending actions, such as the present case.
Also, to deny herein petitioners the benefit of the fresh period rule will
amount to injustice, if not absurdity, since the subject notice of judgment and
final order were issued two years later or in the year 2000, as compared to the
notice of judgment and final order in Neypes which were issued in 1998. It
will be incongruous and illogical that parties receiving notices of judgment and
final orders issued in the year 1998 will enjoy the benefit of the fresh period

rule while those later rulings of the lower courts such as in the instant case,
will not.[19]

Notably, the subject incidents in Sps. De los Santos occurred in August 2000, at the same
month as the relevant incidents at bar. There is no reason to adopt herein a rule that is
divergent from that in Sps. De los Santos.
We have reexamined the petition to ascertain whether there is any other impediment to
granting

favorable

relief

to

petitioners

based

on the

retroactive

application

of

theNeypes doctrine.
Private respondent does argue in her comment on the petition [20] and on the motion
for reconsideration[21] that petitioners special civil action for certiorari before the Court of
Appeals was not timely lodged. This argument is premised on petitioners requested relief
that direct that proceedings de novo be had starting from pre-trial, by annulling the RTCs
decision and the courts ruling on the motion for reconsideration, which was filed by
petitioners beyond the 60-day period mandated by Section 4, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court
for filing a special civil action for certiorari.

Petitioners, in their Reply,[22] argue that the certiorari action was timely filed since the
RTC had disallowed the notice of appeal in its 13 September 2000 Order, a copy of which
was received by petitioners on 22 September 2000 or within the 60-day period prior to the
filing of their certiorari petition.
Certainly, the RTCs order denying the notice of appeal was timely assailed by petitioners via
a special civil action filed with the Court of Appeals. Granting positive relief on that point
would have the effect of giving due course to the notice of appeal. But is there basis for this
Court to take the extra step as requested by petitioners and go as far as to annul the RTCs
rulings that granted the complaint filed by private respondent?

We deem the challenges raised by petitioners against the correctness of the RTCs decision
and its subsequent resolution on the motion for reconsideration as inappropriate for this
Court to decide. Such issues may very well be tackled in petitioners appeal before the Court
of Appeals. After all, as is now conceded, the appeal was timely filed and the existence of

such appeal would, per Section 1, Rule 65, bar the certiorari action from correcting errors
which may be reversed on appeal. Besides, the resolution of such issues requires a certain
level of factual determination, especially as to the circumstances surrounding the
resignation of the counsel who had initially appeared in behalf of the petitioners, the service
of the order resetting the pre-trial and all subsequent notices of trial to petitioners after
private respondent had been allowed to present evidence ex parte. Unlike the Court of
Appeals, this Court is not a trier of facts. [23]

WHEREFORE, the motion for reconsideration is GRANTED and the instant petition is
GRANTED IN PART. The assailed rulings of the Court of Appeals and the RTC Order dated 13
September 2000 are SET ASIDE. The Court of Appeals is DIRECTED to give due course to
petitioners appeal in Civil Case No. 5626, and to hear and decide such appeal with
deliberate dispatch. No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.
THEORY OF LOCAL LAW
THEORY OF HARMONY OF LAWS
THEORY OF JUSTICE
NATURE AND PROOF OF FOREIGN JUDGMENT
Republic of the Philippines
Supreme Court
Manila
SECOND DIVISION

MEROPE ENRIQUEZ VDA. DE CATALAN,


Petitioner,

G. R. No. 183622
Present:
CARPIO, J., Chairperson,
BRION,
PEREZ,
SERENO, and
REYES, JJ.

- versus -

LOUELLA A. CATALAN-LEE,
Respondent.

Promulgated:
February 8, 2012

x--------------------------------------------------x
RESOLUTION
SERENO, J.:
Before us is a Petition for Review assailing the Court of Appeals (CA) Decision [1] and
Resolution[2] regarding the issuance of letters of administration of the intestate estate of
Orlando B. Catalan.
The facts are as follows:
Orlando B. Catalan was a naturalized American citizen. After allegedly obtaining a
divorce in the United States from his first wife, Felicitas Amor, he contracted a second
marriage with petitioner herein.
On 18 November 2004, Orlando died intestate in the Philippines.
Thereafter, on 28 February 2005, petitioner filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
Dagupan City a Petition for the issuance of letters of administration for her appointment as
administratrix of the intestate estate of Orlando. The case was docketed as Special
Proceedings (Spec. Proc.) No. 228.
On 3 March 2005, while Spec. Proc. No. 228 was pending, respondent Louella A.
Catalan-Lee, one of the children of Orlando from his first marriage, filed a similar petition
with the RTC docketed as Spec. Proc. No. 232.
The two cases were subsequently consolidated.

Petitioner prayed for the dismissal of Spec. Proc. No. 232 on the ground of litis
pendentia, considering that Spec. Proc. No. 228 covering the same estate was already
pending.
On the other hand, respondent alleged that petitioner was not considered an
interested person qualified to file a petition for the issuance of letters of administration of
the estate of Orlando. In support of her contention, respondent alleged that a criminal case
for bigamy was filed against petitioner before Branch 54 of the RTC of Alaminos, Pangasinan,
and docketed as Crim. Case No. 2699-A.
Apparently, Felicitas Amor filed a Complaint for bigamy, alleging that petitioner
contracted a second marriage to Orlando despite having been married to one Eusebio Bristol
on 12 December 1959.
On 6 August 1998, the RTC had acquitted petitioner of bigamy. [3] The trial court ruled
that since the deceased was a divorced American citizen, and since that divorce was not
recognized under Philippine jurisdiction, the marriage between him and petitioner was not
valid.
Furthermore, it took note of the action for declaration of nullity then pending action
with the trial court in Dagupan City filed by Felicitas Amor against the deceased and
petitioner. It considered the pending action to be a prejudicial question in determining the
guilt of petitioner for the crime of bigamy.
Finally, the trial court found that, in the first place, petitioner had never been married
to Eusebio Bristol.
On 26 June 2006, Branch 70 of the RTC of Burgos, Pangasinan dismissed the Petition
for the issuance of letters of administration filed by petitioner and granted that of private
respondent. Contrary to its findings in Crim. Case No. 2699-A, the RTC held that the marriage
between petitioner and Eusebio Bristol was valid and subsisting when she married Orlando.
Without expounding, it reasoned further that her acquittal in the previous bigamy case was
fatal to her cause. Thus, the trial court held that petitioner was not an interested party who
may file a petition for the issuance of letters of administration. [4]
After the subsequent denial of her Motion for Reconsideration, petitioner elevated the
matter to the Court of Appeals (CA) via her Petition for Certiorari, alleging grave abuse of
discretion on the part of the RTC in dismissing her Petition for the issuance of letters of
administration.
Petitioner reiterated before the CA that the Petition filed by respondent should have
been dismissed on the ground of litis pendentia. She also insisted that, while a petition for

letters of administration may have been filed by an uninterested person, the defect was
cured by the appearance of a real party-in-interest. Thus, she insisted that, to determine
who has a better right to administer the decedents properties, the RTC should have first
required the parties to present their evidence before it ruled on the matter.
On 18 October 2007, the CA promulgated the assailed Decision. First, it held that
petitioner undertook the wrong remedy. She should have instead filed a petition for review
rather than a petition for certiorari. Nevertheless, since the Petition for Certiorari was filed
within the fifteen-day reglementary period for filing a petition for review under Sec. 4 of Rule
43, the CA allowed the Petition and continued to decide on the merits of the case. Thus, it
ruled in this wise:
As to the issue of litis pendentia, we find it not applicable in the case.
For litis pendentia to be a ground for the dismissal of an action, there must be:
(a) identity of the parties or at least such as to represent the same interest in
both actions; (b) identity of rights asserted and relief prayed for, the relief
being founded on the same acts, and (c) the identity in the two cases should
be such that the judgment which may be rendered in one would, regardless of
which party is successful, amount to res judicata in the other. A petition for
letters of administration is a special proceeding. A special proceeding is an
application or proceeding to establish the status or right of a party, or a
particular fact. And, in contrast to an ordinary civil action, a special
proceeding involves no defendant or respondent. The only party in this kind of
proceeding is the petitioner of the applicant. Considering its nature, a
subsequent petition for letters of administration can hardly be barred by a
similar pending petition involving the estate of the same decedent unless both
petitions are filed by the same person. In the case at bar, the petitioner was
not a party to the petition filed by the private respondent, in the same manner
that the latter was not made a party to the petition filed by the former. The
first element of litis pendentia is wanting. The contention of the petitioner
must perforce fail.
Moreover, to yield to the contention of the petitioner would render
nugatory the provision of the Rules requiring a petitioner for letters of
administration to be an interested party, inasmuch as any person, for that
matter, regardless of whether he has valid interest in the estate sought to be
administered, could be appointed as administrator for as long as he files his
petition ahead of any other person, in derogation of the rights of those
specifically mentioned in the order of preference in the appointment of
administrator under Rule 78, Section 6 of the Revised Rules of Court, which
provides:
xxx xxx xxx
The petitioner, armed with a marriage certificate, filed her petition for
letters of administration. As a spouse, the petitioner would have been
preferred to administer the estate of Orlando B. Catalan. However, a marriage
certificate, like any other public document, is only prima facie evidence of the
facts stated therein. The fact that the petitioner had been charged with
bigamy and was acquitted has not been disputed by the
petitioner. Bigamy is an illegal marriage committed by contracting a second
or subsequent marriage before the first marriage has been dissolved or before

the absent spouse has been declared presumptively dead by a judgment


rendered in a proper proceedings. The deduction of the trial court that
the acquittal of the petitioner in the said case negates the validity of
her subsequent marriage with Orlando B. Catalan has not been
disproved by her. There was not even an attempt from the petitioner
to deny the findings of the trial court. There is therefore no basis for us to
make a contrary finding. Thus, not being an interested party and a stranger to
the estate of Orlando B. Catalan, the dismissal of her petition for letters of
administration by the trial court is in place.
xxx xxx xxx
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DISMISSED for
lack of merit. No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.[5] (Emphasis supplied)

Petitioner moved for a reconsideration of this Decision. [6] She alleged that the reasoning of
the CA was illogical in stating, on the one hand, that she was acquitted of bigamy, while, on
the other hand, still holding that her marriage with Orlando was invalid. She insists that with
her acquittal of the crime of bigamy, the marriage enjoys the presumption of validity.
On 20 June 2008, the CA denied her motion.
Hence, this Petition.
At the outset, it seems that the RTC in the special proceedings failed to appreciate
the finding of the RTC in Crim. Case No. 2699-A that petitioner was never married to Eusebio
Bristol. Thus, the trial court concluded that, because petitioner was acquitted of bigamy, it
follows that the first marriage with Bristol still existed and was valid. By failing to take note
of the findings of fact on the nonexistence of the marriage between petitioner and Bristol,
both the RTC and CA held that petitioner was not an interested party in the estate of
Orlando.
Second, it is imperative to note that at the time the bigamy case in Crim. Case No.
2699-A was dismissed, we had already ruled that under the principles of comity, our
jurisdiction recognizes a valid divorce obtained by a spouse of foreign nationality. This
doctrine was established as early as 1985 in Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr.[7] wherein we said:
It is true that owing to the nationality principle embodied in Article 15
of the Civil Code, only Philippine nationals are covered by the policy against
absolute divorces[,] the same being considered contrary to our concept of
public policy and morality. However, aliens may obtain divorces abroad,
which may be recognized in the Philippines, provided they are valid
according to their national law. In this case, the divorce in Nevada
released private respondent from the marriage from the standards of
American law, under which divorce dissolves the marriage. xxx

We reiterated this principle in Llorente v. Court of Appeals,[8] to wit:


In Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr. we held that owing to the nationality
principle embodied in Article 15 of the Civil Code, only Philippine nationals are
covered by the policy against absolute divorces, the same being considered
contrary to our concept of public policy and morality. In the same case, the
Court ruled that aliens may obtain divorces abroad, provided they
are valid according to their national law.
Citing this landmark case, the Court held in Quita v. Court of
Appeals, that once proven that respondent was no longer a Filipino
citizen when he obtained the divorce from petitioner, the ruling
in Van Dorn would become applicable and petitioner could very well
lose her right to inherit from him.
In Pilapil v. Ibay-Somera, we recognized the divorce obtained by the
respondent in his country, the Federal Republic of Germany. There, we
stated that divorce and its legal effects may be recognized in the
Philippines insofar as respondent is concerned in view of the
nationality principle in our civil law on the status of persons.
For failing to apply these doctrines, the decision of the Court of Appeals
must be reversed. We hold that the divorce obtained by Lorenzo H.
Llorente from his first wife Paula was valid and recognized in this
jurisdiction as a matter of comity. xxx

Nonetheless, the fact of divorce must still first be proven as we have enunciated
in Garcia v. Recio,[9] to wit:
Respondent is getting ahead of himself. Before a foreign judgment is
given presumptive evidentiary value, the document must first be presented
and admitted in evidence. A divorce obtained abroad is proven by the divorce
decree itself. Indeed the best evidence of a judgment is the judgment
itself. The decree purports to be a written act or record of an act of an official
body or tribunal of a foreign country.
Under Sections 24 and 25 of Rule 132, on the other hand, a writing or
document may be proven as a public or official record of a foreign country by
either (1) an official publication or (2) a copy thereof attested by the officer
having legal custody of the document. If the record is not kept in the
Philippines, such copy must be (a) accompanied by a certificate issued by the
proper diplomatic or consular officer in the Philippine foreign service stationed
in the foreign country in which the record is kept and (b) authenticated by the
seal of his office.
The divorce decree between respondent and Editha Samson appears to
be an authentic one issued by an Australian family court. However,
appearance is not sufficient; compliance with the aforementioned rules
on evidence must be demonstrated.
Fortunately for respondent's cause, when the divorce decree of May
18, 1989 was submitted in evidence, counsel for petitioner objected, not to its
admissibility, but only to the fact that it had not been registered in the Local
Civil Registry of Cabanatuan City. The trial court ruled that it was admissible,
subject to petitioner's qualification. Hence, it was admitted in evidence and

accorded weight by the judge. Indeed, petitioner's failure to object properly


rendered the divorce decree admissible as a written act of the Family Court of
Sydney, Australia.
Compliance with the quoted articles (11, 13 and 52) of the Family Code
is not necessary; respondent was no longer bound by Philippine personal laws
after he acquired Australian citizenship in 1992. Naturalization is the legal act
of adopting an alien and clothing him with the political and civil rights
belonging to a citizen. Naturalized citizens, freed from the protective cloak of
their former states, don the attires of their adoptive countries. By becoming
an Australian, respondent severed his allegiance to the Philippines and
the vinculum juris that had tied him to Philippine personal laws.
Burden of Proving Australian Law
Respondent contends that the burden to prove Australian divorce law
falls upon petitioner, because she is the party challenging the validity of a
foreign judgment. He contends that petitioner was satisfied with the original of
the divorce decree and was cognizant of the marital laws of Australia, because
she had lived and worked in that country for quite a long time. Besides, the
Australian divorce law is allegedly known by Philippine courts; thus, judges
may take judicial notice of foreign laws in the exercise of sound discretion.
We are not persuaded. The burden of proof lies with the party
who alleges the existence of a fact or thing necessary in the
prosecution or defense of an action. In civil cases, plaintiffs have the
burden of proving the material allegations of the complaint when
those are denied by the answer; and defendants have the burden of
proving the material allegations in their answer when they introduce
new matters. Since the divorce was a defense raised by respondent,
the burden of proving the pertinent Australian law validating it falls
squarely upon him.
It is well-settled in our jurisdiction that our courts cannot take
judicial notice of foreign laws. Like any other facts, they must be
alleged and proved. Australian marital laws are not among those
matters that judges are supposed to know by reason of their judicial
function. The power of judicial notice must be exercised with caution,
and every reasonable doubt upon the subject should be resolved in
the negative. (Emphasis supplied)

It appears that the trial court no longer required petitioner to prove the validity of
Orlandos divorce under the laws of the United States and the marriage between petitioner
and the deceased. Thus, there is a need to remand the proceedings to the trial court for
further reception of evidence to establish the fact of divorce.
Should petitioner prove the validity of the divorce and the subsequent marriage, she
has the preferential right to be issued the letters of administration over the estate.
Otherwise, letters of administration may be issued to respondent, who is undisputedly the
daughter or next of kin of the deceased, in accordance with Sec. 6 of Rule 78 of the Revised
Rules of Court.
This is consistent with our ruling in San Luis v. San Luis,[10] in which we said:

Applying the above doctrine in the instant case, the divorce decree
allegedly obtained by Merry Lee which absolutely allowed Felicisimo to
remarry, would have vested Felicidad with the legal personality to file the
present petition as Felicisimo's surviving spouse. However, the records
show that there is insufficient evidence to prove the validity of the
divorce obtained by Merry Lee as well as the marriage of respondent
and Felicisimo under the laws of the U.S.A. In Garcia v. Recio, the Court
laid down the specific guidelines for pleading and proving foreign law and
divorce judgments. It held that presentation solely of the divorce decree is
insufficient and that proof of its authenticity and due execution must be
presented. Under Sections 24 and 25 of Rule 132, a writing or document may
be proven as a public or official record of a foreign country by either (1) an
official publication or (2) a copy thereof attested by the officer having legal
custody of the document. If the record is not kept in the Philippines, such copy
must be (a) accompanied by a certificate issued by the proper diplomatic or
consular officer in the Philippine foreign service stationed in the foreign
country in which the record is kept and (b) authenticated by the seal of his
office.
With regard to respondent's marriage to Felicisimo allegedly
solemnized in California, U.S.A., she submitted photocopies of the Marriage
Certificate and the annotated text of the Family Law Act of California which
purportedly show that their marriage was done in accordance with the said
law. As stated in Garcia, however, the Court cannot take judicial notice of
foreign laws as they must be alleged and proved.
Therefore, this case should be remanded to the trial court for
further reception of evidence on the divorce decree obtained by
Merry Lee and the marriage of respondent and Felicisimo. (Emphasis
supplied)

Thus, it is imperative for the trial court to first determine the validity of the divorce to
ascertain the rightful party to be issued the letters of administration over the estate of
Orlando B. Catalan.
WHEREFORE, premises

considered,

the

Petition

is

hereby PARTIALLY

GRANTED. The Decision dated 18 October 2007 and the Resolution dated 20 June 2008 of
the

Court

of

Appeals

are

hereby REVERSED and SET

ASIDE.

Let

this

case

be REMANDED to Branch 70 of the Regional Trial Court of Burgos, Pangasinan for further
proceedings in accordance with this Decision.
SO ORDERED.
CONDITIONS FOR RECOGNITION OF FOREIGN JUDGMENT
Republic of the Philippines
Supreme Court
Manila

THIRD DIVISION

GERBERT R. CORPUZ,
Petitioner,

G.R. No. 186571


Present:

CARPIO MORALES, J., Chairperson,


BRION,
BERSAMIN,
-

versus -

ABAD, and

VILLARAMA, JR., JJ.

Promulgated:
August 11, 2010
DAISYLYN TIROL STO. TOMAS and
The SOLICITOR GENERAL,
Respondents. -- x--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
DECISION
BRION, J.:

Before the Court is a direct appeal from the decision [1] of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Laoag City, Branch 11, elevated via a petition for review oncertiorari[2] under Rule
45 of the Rules of Court (present petition).

Petitioner Gerbert R. Corpuz was a former Filipino citizen who acquired Canadian
citizenship through naturalization on November 29, 2000.[3] On January 18, 2005, Gerbert
married respondent Daisylyn T. Sto. Tomas, a Filipina, in Pasig City.[4] Due to work and other
professional commitments, Gerbert left for Canada soon after the wedding. He returned to
the Philippines sometime in April 2005 to surprise Daisylyn, but was shocked to discover that
his wife was having an affair with another man. Hurt and disappointed, Gerbert returned
to Canada and

filed

petition

for

divorce. The

Superior

Court

of

Justice, Windsor, Ontario, Canada granted Gerberts petition for divorce on December 8,
2005. The divorce decree took effect a month later, on January 8, 2006.[5]

Two years after the divorce, Gerbert has moved on and has found another Filipina to
love. Desirous of marrying his new Filipina fiance in the Philippines, Gerbert went to the
Pasig City Civil Registry Office and registered the Canadian divorce decree on his and
Daisylyns marriage certificate. Despite the registration of the divorce decree, an official of
the National Statistics Office (NSO) informed Gerbert that the marriage between him and
Daisylyn still subsists under Philippine law; to be enforceable, the foreign divorce decree
must first be judicially recognized by a competent Philippine court, pursuant to NSO Circular
No. 4, series of 1982.[6]

Accordingly, Gerbert filed a petition for judicial recognition of foreign divorce


and/or

declaration

of

marriage

as

dissolved (petition)

with

the

RTC.Although

summoned, Daisylyn did not file any responsive pleading but submitted instead a notarized
letter/manifestation to the trial court. She offered no opposition to Gerberts petition and, in
fact, alleged her desire to file a similar case herself but was prevented by financial and
personal circumstances. She, thus, requested that she be considered as a party-in-interest
with a similar prayer to Gerberts.

In its October 30, 2008 decision,[7] the RTC denied Gerberts petition. The RTC
concluded that Gerbert was not the proper party to institute the action for judicial
recognition of the foreign divorce decree as he is a naturalized Canadian citizen. It ruled
that only the Filipino spouse can avail of the remedy, under the second paragraph of Article

26 of the Family Code,[8] in order for him or her to be able to remarry under Philippine law.
[9]

Article 26 of the Family Code reads:

Art. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines, in accordance


with the laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid
there as such, shall also be valid in this country, except those prohibited under
Articles 35(1), (4), (5) and (6), 36, 37 and 38.

Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is


validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad
by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino
spouse shall likewise have capacity to remarry under Philippine law.

This conclusion, the RTC stated, is consistent with the legislative intent behind the
enactment of the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, as determined by the
Court in Republic v. Orbecido III;[10] the provision was enacted to avoid the absurd situation
where the Filipino spouse remains married to the alien spouse who, after obtaining a divorce,
is no longer married to the Filipino spouse.[11]

THE PETITION

From the RTCs ruling,[12] Gerbert filed the present petition.[13]


Gerbert asserts that his petition before the RTC is essentially for declaratory relief,
similar to that filed in Orbecido; he, thus, similarly asks for a determination of his rights
under the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code. Taking into account the
rationale behind the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, he contends that the
provision applies as well to the benefit of the alien spouse. He claims that the RTC ruling
unduly stretched the doctrine in Orbecido by limiting the standing to file the petition only to
the Filipino spouse an interpretation he claims to be contrary to the essence of the second
paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code. He considers himself as a proper party, vested
with sufficient legal interest, to institute the case, as there is a possibility that he might be
prosecuted for bigamy if he marries his Filipina fiance in the Philippines since two marriage

certificates, involving him, would be on file with the Civil Registry Office. The Office of the
Solicitor General and Daisylyn, in their respective Comments, [14] both support Gerberts
position.

Essentially, the petition raises the issue of whether the second paragraph of Article 26
of the Family Code extends to aliens the right to petition a court of this
jurisdiction for the recognition of a foreign divorce decree.
THE COURTS RULING

The alien spouse can claim no right under


the second paragraph of Article 26 of the
Family Code as the substantive right it
establishes is in favor of the Filipino spouse

The resolution of the issue requires a review of the legislative history and intent behind the
second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code.

The

Family

Code

recognizes

only

two

types

of

defective

marriages

void [15] and

voidable[16] marriages. In both cases, the basis for the judicial declaration of absolute nullity
or annulment of the marriage exists before or at the time of the marriage. Divorce, on the
other hand, contemplates the dissolution of the lawful union for cause arising after the
marriage.[17] Our family laws do not recognize absolute divorce between Filipino citizens. [18]
Recognizing the reality that divorce is a possibility in marriages between a Filipino
and an alien, President Corazon C. Aquino, in the exercise of her legislative powers under the
Freedom Constitution,[19] enacted Executive Order No. (EO) 227, amending Article 26 of the
Family Code to its present wording, as follows:

Art. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines, in accordance


with the laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid
there as such, shall also be valid in this country, except those prohibited under
Articles 35(1), (4), (5) and (6), 36, 37 and 38.

Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is


validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad
by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino
spouse shall likewise have capacity to remarry under Philippine law.

Through the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, EO 227 effectively
incorporated into the law this Courts holding in Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr. [20] andPilapil v. IbaySomera.[21] In both cases, the Court refused to acknowledge the alien spouses assertion of
marital rights after a foreign courts divorce decree between the alien and the Filipino. The
Court, thus, recognized that the foreign divorce had already severed the marital bond
between the spouses. The Court reasoned in Van Dorn v. Romillo that:

To maintain x x x that, under our laws, [the Filipino spouse] has to be


considered still married to [the alien spouse] and still subject to a
wife's obligations x x x cannot be just.[The Filipino spouse] should not be
obliged to live together with, observe respect and fidelity, and render support
to [the alien spouse]. The latter should not continue to be one of her heirs
with possible rights to conjugal property. She should not be discriminated
against in her own country if the ends of justice are to be served. [22]

As the RTC correctly stated, the provision was included in the law to avoid the absurd
situation where the Filipino spouse remains married to the alien spouse who, after obtaining
a divorce, is no longer married to the Filipino spouse. [23] The legislative intent is for the
benefit of the Filipino spouse, by clarifying his or her marital status, settling the doubts
created by the divorce decree. Essentially, the second paragraph of Article 26 of the
Family Code provided the Filipino spouse a substantive right to have his or her
marriage to the alien spouse considered as dissolved, capacitating him or her to
remarry.[24] Without the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, the judicial
recognition of the foreign decree of divorce, whether in a proceeding instituted precisely for
that purpose or as a related issue in another proceeding, would be of no significance to the
Filipino spouse since our laws do not recognize divorce as a mode of severing the marital
bond;[25] Article 17 of the Civil Code provides that the policy against absolute divorces cannot
be subverted by judgments promulgated in a foreign country. The inclusion of the second

paragraph in Article 26 of the Family Code provides the direct exception to this rule and
serves as basis for recognizing the dissolution of the marriage between the Filipino spouse
and his or her alien spouse.

Additionally, an action based on the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code is not
limited to the recognition of the foreign divorce decree. If the court finds that the decree
capacitated the alien spouse to remarry, the courts can declare that the Filipino spouse is
likewise capacitated to contract another marriage. No court in this jurisdiction, however, can
make a similar declaration for the alien spouse (other than that already established by the
decree), whose status and legal capacity are generally governed by his national law. [26]

Given the rationale and intent behind the enactment, and the purpose of the second
paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, the RTC was correct in limiting the applicability of
the provision for the benefit of the Filipino spouse. In other words, only the Filipino spouse
can invoke the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code; the alien spouse can
claim no right under this provision.

The foreign divorce decree is presumptive


evidence of a right that clothes the party
with legal interest to petition for its
recognition in this jurisdiction

We qualify our above conclusion i.e., that the second paragraph of Article 26 of the
Family Code bestows no rights in favor of aliens with the complementary statement that this
conclusion is not sufficient basis to dismiss Gerberts petition before the RTC. In other words,
the unavailability of the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code to aliens does not
necessarily strip Gerbert of legal interest to petition the RTC for the recognition of his foreign
divorce decree. The foreign divorce decree itself, after its authenticity and conformity with
the aliens national law have been duly proven according to our rules of evidence, serves as
a presumptive evidence of right in favor of Gerbert, pursuant to Section 48, Rule 39 of the
Rules of Court which provides for the effect of foreign judgments. This Section states:

SEC. 48. Effect of foreign judgments or final orders.The effect of a


judgment or final order of a tribunal of a foreign country, having
jurisdiction to render the judgment or final order is as follows:

(a)

In case of a judgment or final order upon a specific thing,


the judgment or final order is conclusive upon the title of the
thing; and

(b)

In case of a judgment or final order against a


person, the judgment or final order is presumptive
evidence of a right as between the parties and their
successors in interest by a subsequent title.

In either case, the judgment or final order may be repelled by evidence


of a want of jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear
mistake of law or fact.

To our mind, direct involvement or being the subject of the foreign judgment is sufficient to
clothe a party with the requisite interest to institute an action before our courts for the
recognition of the foreign judgment. In a divorce situation, we have declared, no less, that
the divorce obtained by an alien abroad may be recognized in the Philippines, provided the
divorce is valid according to his or her national law.[27]

The starting point in any recognition of a foreign divorce judgment is the


acknowledgment that our courts do not take judicial notice of foreign judgments and
laws. Justice Herrera explained that, as a rule, no sovereign is bound to give effect within its
dominion to a judgment rendered by a tribunal of another country. [28] This means that the
foreign judgment and its authenticity must be proven as facts under our rules on evidence,
together with the aliens applicable national law to show the effect of the judgment on the
alien himself or herself.[29] The recognition may be made in an action instituted specifically
for the purpose or in another action where a party invokes the foreign decree as an integral
aspect of his claim or defense.

In Gerberts case, since both the foreign divorce decree and the national law of the
alien, recognizing his or her capacity to obtain a divorce, purport to be official acts of a
sovereign authority, Section 24, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court comes into play. This Section
requires proof, either by (1) official publications or (2) copies attested by the officer having
legal custody of the documents. If the copies of official records are not kept in
the Philippines, these must be (a) accompanied by a certificate issued by the proper
diplomatic or consular officer in the Philippine foreign service stationed in the foreign
country in which the record is kept and (b) authenticated by the seal of his office.

The records show that Gerbert attached to his petition a copy of the divorce decree,
as well as the required certificates proving its authenticity, [30] but failed to include a copy of
the Canadian law on divorce. [31] Under this situation, we can, at this point, simply dismiss the
petition for insufficiency of supporting evidence, unless we deem it more appropriate to
remand the case to the RTC to determine whether the divorce decree is consistent with the
Canadian divorce law.

We deem it more appropriate to take this latter course of action, given the Article 26
interests that will be served and the Filipina wifes (Daisylyns) obvious conformity with the
petition. A remand, at the same time, will allow other interested parties to oppose the
foreign judgment and overcome a petitioners presumptive evidence of a right by proving
want of jurisdiction, want of notice to a party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or
fact. Needless to state, every precaution must be taken to ensure conformity with our laws
before a recognition is made, as the foreign judgment, once recognized, shall have the effect
of res judicata[32] between the parties, as provided in Section 48, Rule 39 of the Rules of
Court.[33]

In fact, more than the principle of comity that is served by the practice of reciprocal
recognition of foreign judgments between nations, the res judicata effect of the foreign
judgments of divorce serves as the deeper basis for extending judicial recognition and for
considering the alien spouse bound by its terms. This same effect, as discussed above, will

not obtain for the Filipino spouse were it not for the substantive rule that the second
paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code provides.

Considerations beyond the recognition of


the foreign divorce decree
As a matter of housekeeping concern, we note that the Pasig City Civil Registry
Office has already recorded the divorce decree on Gerbert and Daisylyns marriage
certificate based on the mere presentation of the decree. [34] We consider the
recording to be legally improper; hence, the need to draw attention of the bench and the bar
to what had been done.

Article 407 of the Civil Code states that [a]cts, events and judicial decrees concerning the
civil status of persons shall be recorded in the civil register. The law requires the entry in the
civil registry of judicial decrees that produce legal consequences touching upon a persons
legal capacity and status, i.e., those affecting all his personal qualities and relations, more or
less permanent in nature, not ordinarily terminable at his own will, such as his being
legitimate or illegitimate, or his being married or not.[35]

A judgment of divorce is a judicial decree, although a foreign one, affecting a persons


legal capacity and status that must be recorded. In fact, Act No. 3753 or the Law on Registry
of Civil Status specifically requires the registration of divorce decrees in the civil registry:

Sec. 1. Civil Register. A civil register is established for recording the


civil status of persons, in which shall be entered:

(a)

births;

(b) deaths;
(c)

marriages;

(d) annulments of marriages;


(e)

divorces;

(f)

legitimations;

(g) adoptions;
(h) acknowledgment of natural children;
(i)

naturalization; and

(j)

changes of name.

xxxx

Sec. 4. Civil Register Books. The local registrars shall keep and preserve in
their offices the following books, in which they shall, respectively make the
proper entries concerning the civil status of persons:

(1) Birth and death register;

(2) Marriage register, in which shall be entered not only the


marriages solemnized but also divorces and dissolved
marriages.

(3) Legitimation, acknowledgment, adoption, change of name and


naturalization register.

But while the law requires the entry of the divorce decree in the civil registry, the law and
the

submission

of

the

decree

by

themselves

do

not ipso

facto authorize

the

decrees registration. The law should be read in relation with the requirement of a judicial
recognition of the foreign judgment before it can be given res judicata effect.In the context
of the present case, no judicial order as yet exists recognizing the foreign divorce
decree. Thus, the Pasig City Civil Registry Office acted totally out of turn and without
authority of law when it annotated the Canadian divorce decree on Gerbert and Daisylyns
marriage certificate, on the strength alone of the foreign decree presented by Gerbert.

Evidently, the Pasig City Civil Registry Office was aware of the requirement of a court
recognition, as it cited NSO Circular No. 4, series of 1982, [36] and Department of Justice
Opinion No. 181, series of 1982 [37] both of which required a final order from a competent
Philippine court before a foreign judgment, dissolving a marriage, can be registered in the
civil registry, but it, nonetheless, allowed the registration of the decree. For being contrary to
law, the registration of the foreign divorce decree without the requisite judicial recognition is
patently void and cannot produce any legal effect.

Another point we wish to draw attention to is that the recognition that the RTC may
extend to the Canadian divorce decree does not, by itself, authorize thecancellation of the
entry in the civil registry. A petition for recognition of a foreign judgment is not the proper
proceeding, contemplated under the Rules of Court, for the cancellation of entries in the civil
registry.

Article 412 of the Civil Code declares that no entry in a civil register shall be changed
or corrected, without judicial order. The Rules of Court supplements Article 412 of the Civil
Code by specifically providing for a special remedial proceeding by which entries in the civil
registry may be judicially cancelled or corrected.Rule 108 of the Rules of Court sets in detail
the jurisdictional and procedural requirements that must be complied with before a
judgment, authorizing the cancellation or correction, may be annotated in the civil registry. It
also requires, among others, that the verified petition must be filed with the RTC of the
province where the corresponding civil registry is located; [38] that the civil registrar and all
persons who have or claim any interest must be made parties to the proceedings; [39] and
that the time and place for hearing must be published in a newspaper of general circulation.
[40]

As these basic jurisdictional requirements have not been met in the present case, we

cannot consider the petition Gerbert filed with the RTC as one filed under Rule 108 of the
Rules of Court.

We hasten to point out, however, that this ruling should not be construed as requiring two
separate proceedings for the registration of a foreign divorce decree in the civil registry one
for recognition of the foreign decree and another specifically for cancellation of the entry
under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court. The recognition of the foreign divorce decree may be

made in a Rule 108 proceeding itself, as the object of special proceedings (such as that in
Rule 108 of the Rules of Court) is precisely to establish the status or right of a party or a
particular fact. Moreover, Rule 108 of the Rules of Court can serve as the appropriate
adversarial proceeding[41] by which the applicability of the foreign judgment can be
measured and tested in terms of jurisdictional infirmities, want of notice to the party,
collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact.

WHEREFORE,

we GRANT the

and REVERSE the October

30,

petition

2008 decision

of

for

review

on certiorari,

the Regional Trial Court of Laoag City,

Branch 11, as well as its February 17, 2009 order. We order the REMAND of the case to the
trial court for further proceedings in accordance with our ruling above.Let a copy of this
Decision be furnished the Civil Registrar General. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

KINDS OF CONFLICT RULES


FIRST DIVISION
[G.R. No. 122191. October 8, 1998]
SAUDI ARABIAN AIRLINES, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, MILAGROS P.
MORADA and HON. RODOLFO A. ORTIZ, in his capacity as Presiding Judge of
Branch 89, Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, respondents.
DECISION
QUISUMBING, J.:
This petition for certiorari pursuant to Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeks to annul and
set aside the Resolution[1] dated September 27, 1995 and the Decision [2] dated April 10,
1996 of the Court of Appeals [3] in CA-G.R. SP No. 36533,[4] and the Orders[5] dated August 29,
1994[6] and February 2, 1995[7] that were issued by the trial court in Civil Case No. Q-9318394.[8]
The pertinent antecedent facts which gave rise to the instant petition, as stated in the
questioned Decision[9], are as follows:

On January 21, 1988 defendant SAUDIA hired plaintiff as a Flight Attendant for its
airlines based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. x x x
On April 27, 1990, while on a lay-over in Jakarta, Indonesia, plaintiff went to a disco
dance with fellow crew members Thamer Al-Gazzawi and Allah Al-Gazzawi, both
Saudi nationals. Because it was almost morning when they returned to their hotels,
they agreed to have breakfast together at the room of Thamer. When they were in
te (sic) room, Allah left on some pretext. Shortly after he did, Thamer attempted to
rape plaintiff. Fortunately, a roomboy and several security personnel heard her cries
for help and rescued her. Later, the Indonesian police came and arrested Thamer
and Allah Al-Gazzawi, the latter as an accomplice.
When plaintiff returned to Jeddah a few days later, several SAUDIA officials
interrogated her about the Jakarta incident. They then requested her to go back to
Jakarta to help arrange the release of Thamer and Allah. In Jakarta, SAUDIA Legal
Officer Sirah Akkad and base manager Baharini negotiated with the police for the
immediate release of the detained crew members but did not succeed because
plaintiff refused to cooperate. She was afraid that she might be tricked into
something she did not want because of her inability to understand the local
dialect. She also declined to sign a blank paper and a document written in the local
dialect. Eventually, SAUDIA allowed plaintiff to return to Jeddah but barred her from
the Jakarta flights.
Plaintiff learned that, through the intercession of the Saudi Arabian government, the
Indonesian authorities agreed to deport Thamer and Allah after two weeks of
detention.Eventually, they were again put in service by defendant SAUDI (sic). In
September 1990, defendant SAUDIA transferred plaintiff to Manila.
On January 14, 1992, just when plaintiff thought that the Jakarta incident was
already behind her, her superiors requested her to see Mr. Ali Meniewy, Chief Legal
Officer of SAUDIA, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. When she saw him, he brought her to the
police station where the police took her passport and questioned her about the
Jakarta incident.Miniewy simply stood by as the police put pressure on her to make a
statement dropping the case against Thamer and Allah. Not until she agreed to do
so did the police return her passport and allowed her to catch the afternoon flight
out of Jeddah.
One year and a half later or on June 16, 1993, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, a few
minutes before the departure of her flight to Manila, plaintiff was not allowed to
board the plane and instead ordered to take a later flight to Jeddah to see Mr.
Miniewy, the Chief Legal Officer of SAUDIA. When she did, a certain Khalid of the
SAUDIA office brought her to a Saudi court where she was asked to sign a document
written in Arabic. They told her that this was necessary to close the case against
Thamer and Allah. As it turned out, plaintiff signed a notice to her to appear before
the court on June 27, 1993. Plaintiff then returned to Manila.
Shortly afterwards, defendant SAUDIA summoned plaintiff to report to Jeddah once
again and see Miniewy on June 27, 1993 for further investigation. Plaintiff did so

after receiving assurance from SAUDIAs Manila manager, Aslam Saleemi, that the
investigation was routinary and that it posed no danger to her.
In Jeddah, a SAUDIA legal officer brought plaintiff to the same Saudi court on June
27, 1993. Nothing happened then but on June 28, 1993, a Saudi judge interrogated
plaintiff through an interpreter about the Jakarta incident. After one hour of
interrogation, they let her go. At the airport, however, just as her plane was about to
take off, a SAUDIA officer told her that the airline had forbidden her to take flight. At
the Inflight Service Office where she was told to go, the secretary of Mr. Yahya
Saddick took away her passport and told her to remain in Jeddah, at the crew
quarters, until further orders.
On July 3, 1993 a SAUDIA legal officer again escorted plaintiff to the same court
where the judge, to her astonishment and shock, rendered a decision, translated to
her in English, sentencing her to five months imprisonment and to 286 lashes. Only
then did she realize that the Saudi court had tried her, together with Thamer and
Allah, for what happened in Jakarta. The court found plaintiff guilty of (1) adultery;
(2) going to a disco, dancing and listening to the music in violation of Islamic laws;
and (3) socializing with the male crew, in contravention of Islamic tradition. [10]
Facing conviction, private respondent sought the help of her employer, petitioner
SAUDIA. Unfortunately, she was denied any assistance. She then asked the Philippine
Embassy in Jeddah to help her while her case is on appeal. Meanwhile, to pay for her
upkeep, she worked on the domestic flight of SAUDIA, while Thamer and Allah continued to
serve in the international flights.[11]
Because she was wrongfully convicted, the Prince of Makkah dismissed the case against
her and allowed her to leave Saudi Arabia. Shortly before her return to Manila, [12] she was
terminated from the service by SAUDIA, without her being informed of the cause.
On November 23, 1993, Morada filed a Complaint [13] for damages against SAUDIA, and
Khaled Al-Balawi (Al- Balawi), its country manager.
On January 19, 1994, SAUDIA filed an Omnibus Motion To Dismiss [14] which raised the
following grounds, to wit: (1) that the Complaint states no cause of action against Saudia; (2)
that defendant Al-Balawi is not a real party in interest; (3) that the claim or demand set forth
in the Complaint has been waived, abandoned or otherwise extinguished; and (4) that the
trial court has no jurisdiction to try the case.
On February 10, 1994, Morada filed her Opposition (To Motion to Dismiss) [15] Saudia filed
a reply[16] thereto on March 3, 1994.
On June 23, 1994, Morada filed an Amended Complaint [17] wherein Al-Balawi was
dropped as party defendant. On August 11, 1994, Saudia filed its Manifestation and Motion
to Dismiss Amended Complaint[18].
The trial court issued an Order [19] dated August 29, 1994 denying the Motion to Dismiss
Amended Complaint filed by Saudia.

From the Order of respondent Judge[20] denying the Motion to Dismiss, SAUDIA filed on
September 20, 1994, its Motion for Reconsideration [21] of the Order dated August 29, 1994. It
alleged that the trial court has no jurisdiction to hear and try the case on the basis of Article
21 of the Civil Code, since the proper law applicable is the law of the Kingdom of Saudi
Arabia. On October 14, 1994, Morada filed her Opposition [22] (To Defendants Motion for
Reconsideration).
In the Reply[23] filed with the trial court on October 24, 1994, SAUDIA alleged that since
its Motion for Reconsideration raised lack of jurisdiction as its cause of action, the Omnibus
Motion Rule does not apply, even if that ground is raised for the first time on
appeal. Additionally, SAUDIA alleged that the Philippines does not have any substantial
interest in the prosecution of the instant case, and hence, without jurisdiction to adjudicate
the same.
Respondent Judge subsequently issued another Order[24] dated February 2, 1995,
denying SAUDIAs Motion for Reconsideration. The pertinent portion of the assailed Order
reads as follows:
Acting on the Motion for Reconsideration of defendant Saudi Arabian Airlines filed,
thru counsel, on September 20, 1994, and the Opposition thereto of the plaintiff
filed, thru counsel, on October 14, 1994, as well as the Reply therewith of
defendant Saudi Arabian Airlines filed, thru counsel, on October 24, 1994,
considering that a perusal of the plaintiffs Amended Complaint, which is one for the
recovery of actual, moral and exemplary damages plus attorneys fees, upon the
basis of the applicable Philippine law, Article 21 of the New Civil Code of the
Philippines, is, clearly, within the jurisdiction of this Court as regards the subject
matter, and there being nothing new of substance which might cause the reversal
or modification of the order sought to be reconsidered, the motion for
reconsideration of the defendant, is DENIED.
SO ORDERED.[25]
Consequently, on February 20, 1995, SAUDIA filed its Petition for Certiorari and
Prohibition with Prayer for Issuance of Writ of Preliminary Injunction and/or Temporary
Restraining Order[26] with the Court of Appeals.
Respondent Court of Appeals promulgated a Resolution with Temporary Restraining
Order[27] dated February 23, 1995, prohibiting the respondent Judge from further conducting
any proceeding, unless otherwise directed, in the interim.
In another Resolution[28] promulgated on September 27, 1995, now assailed, the
appellate court denied SAUDIAs Petition for the Issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Injunction
dated February 18, 1995, to wit:
The Petition for the Issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Injunction is hereby DENIED,
after considering the Answer, with Prayer to Deny Writ of Preliminary Injunction
(Rollo, p. 135) the Reply and Rejoinder, it appearing that herein petitioner is not

clearly entitled thereto (Unciano Paramedical College, et. Al., v. Court of


Appeals, et. Al., 100335, April 7, 1993, Second Division).
SO ORDERED.
On October 20, 1995, SAUDIA filed with this Honorable Court the instant Petition [29] for
Review with Prayer for Temporary Restraining Order dated October 13, 1995.
However, during the pendency of the instant Petition, respondent Court of Appeals
rendered the Decision[30] dated April 10, 1996, now also assailed. It ruled that the Philippines
is an appropriate forum considering that the Amended Complaints basis for recovery of
damages is Article 21 of the Civil Code, and thus, clearly within the jurisdiction of respondent
Court. It further held that certiorari is not the proper remedy in a denial of a Motion to
Dismiss, inasmuch as the petitioner should have proceeded to trial, and in case of an
adverse ruling, find recourse in an appeal.
On May 7, 1996, SAUDIA filed its Supplemental Petition for Review with Prayer for
Temporary Restraining Order[31] dated April 30, 1996, given due course by this Court. After
both parties submitted their Memoranda, [32] the instant case is now deemed submitted for
decision.
Petitioner SAUDIA raised the following issues:
I
The trial court has no jurisdiction to hear and try Civil Case No. Q-93-18394 based on Article
21 of the New Civil Code since the proper law applicable is the law of the Kingdom of Saudi
Arabia inasmuch as this case involves what is known in private international law as a
conflicts problem. Otherwise, the Republic of the Philippines will sit in judgment of the acts
done by another sovereign state which is abhorred.
II.
Leave of court before filing a supplemental pleading is not a jurisdictional
requirement. Besides, the matter as to absence of leave of court is now moot and academic
when this Honorable Court required the respondents to comment on petitioners April 30,
1996 Supplemental Petition For Review With Prayer For A Temporary Restraining Order
Within Ten (10) Days From Notice Thereof. Further, the Revised Rules of Court should be
construed with liberality pursuant to Section 2, Rule 1 thereof.
III.
Petitioner received on April 22, 1996 the April 10, 1996 decision in CA-G.R. SP NO. 36533
entitled Saudi Arabian Airlines v. Hon. Rodolfo A. Ortiz, et al. and filed its April 30, 1996
Supplemental Petition For Review With Prayer For A Temporary Restraining Order on May 7,
1996 at 10:29 a.m. or within the 15-day reglementary period as provided for under Section
1, Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court. Therefore, the decision in CA-G.R. SP NO. 36533 has

not yet become final and executory and this Honorable Court can take cognizance of this
case.[33]
From the foregoing factual and procedural antecedents, the following issues emerge for
our resolution:
I.
WHETHER RESPONDENT APPELLATE COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE
REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF QUEZON CITY HAS JURISDICTION TO HEAR AND TRY
CIVIL CASE NO. Q-93-18394 ENTITLED MILAGROS P. MORADA V. SAUDI ARABIAN
AIRLINES.
II.
WHETHER RESPONDENT APPELLATE COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT IN THE CASE
PHILIPPINE LAW SHOULD GOVERN.
Petitioner SAUDIA claims that before us is a conflict of laws that must be settled at the
outset. It maintains that private respondents claim for alleged abuse of rights occurred in
the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It alleges that the existence of a foreign element qualifies the
instant case for the application of the law of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, by virtue of thelex
loci delicti commissi rule.[34]
On the other hand, private respondent contends that since her Amended Complaint is
based on Articles 19[35] and 21[36] of the Civil Code, then the instant case is properly a matter
of domestic law.[37]
Under the factual antecedents obtaining in this case, there is no dispute that the
interplay of events occurred in two states, the Philippines and Saudi Arabia.
As stated by private respondent in her Amended Complaint [38] dated June 23, 1994:
2. Defendant SAUDI ARABIAN AIRLINES or SAUDIA is a foreign airlines corporation
doing business in the Philippines. It may be served with summons and other court
processes at Travel Wide Associated Sales (Phils.), Inc., 3 rd Floor, Cougar Building,
114 Valero St., Salcedo Village, Makati, Metro Manila.
xxxxxxxxx
6. Plaintiff learned that, through the intercession of the Saudi Arabian government,
the Indonesian authorities agreed to deport Thamer and Allah after two weeks of
detention.Eventually, they were again put in service by defendant SAUDIA. In
September 1990, defendant SAUDIA transferred plaintiff to Manila.
7. On January 14, 1992, just when plaintiff thought that the Jakarta incident was
already behind her, her superiors requested her to see MR. Ali Meniewy, Chief Legal
Officer of SAUDIA, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. When she saw him, he brought her to

the police station where the police took her passport and questioned her about the
Jakarta incident. Miniewy simply stood by as the police put pressure on her to make
a statement dropping the case against Thamer and Allah. Not until she agreed to
do so did the police return her passport and allowed her to catch the afternoon
flight out of Jeddah.
8. One year and a half later or on June 16, 1993, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, a few
minutes before the departure of her flight to Manila, plaintiff was not allowed to
board the plane and instead ordered to take a later flight to Jeddah to see Mr.
Meniewy, the Chief Legal Officer of SAUDIA. When she did, a certain Khalid of the
SAUDIA office brought her to a Saudi court where she was asked to sign a
document written in Arabic. They told her that this was necessary to close the case
against Thamer and Allah. As it turned out, plaintiff signed a notice to her to appear
before the court on June 27, 1993. Plaintiff then returned to Manila.
9. Shortly afterwards, defendant SAUDIA summoned plaintiff to report to Jeddah
once again and see Miniewy on June 27, 1993 for further investigation. Plaintiff did
so after receiving assurance from SAUDIAs Manila manager, Aslam Saleemi, that
the investigation was routinary and that it posed no danger to her.
10. In Jeddah, a SAUDIA legal officer brought plaintiff to the same Saudi court on
June 27, 1993. Nothing happened then but on June 28, 1993, a Saudi judge
interrogated plaintiff through an interpreter about the Jakarta incident. After one
hour of interrogation, they let her go. At the airport, however, just as her plane was
about to take off, a SAUDIA officer told her that the airline had forbidden her to take
that flight. At the Inflight Service Office where she was told to go, the secretary of
Mr. Yahya Saddick took away her passport and told her to remain in Jeddah, at the
crew quarters, until further orders.
11. On July 3, 1993 a SAUDIA legal officer again escorted plaintiff to the same court
where the judge, to her astonishment and shock, rendered a decision, translated to
her in English, sentencing her to five months imprisonment and to 286 lashes. Only
then did she realize that the Saudi court had tried her, together with Thamer and
Allah, for what happened in Jakarta. The court found plaintiff guilty of (1) adultery;
(2) going to a disco, dancing, and listening to the music in violation of Islamic laws;
(3) socializing with the male crew, in contravention of Islamic tradition.
12. Because SAUDIA refused to lend her a hand in the case, plaintiff sought the
help of the Philippine Embassy in Jeddah. The latter helped her pursue an appeal
from the decision of the court. To pay for her upkeep, she worked on the domestic
flights of defendant SAUDIA while, ironically, Thamer and Allah freely served the
international flights.[39]
Where the factual antecedents satisfactorily establish the existence of a foreign
element, we agree with petitioner that the problem herein could present a conflicts case.
A factual situation that cuts across territorial lines and is affected by the diverse laws of
two or more states is said to contain a foreign element. The presence of a foreign element is

inevitable since social and economic affairs of individuals and associations are rarely
confined to the geographic limits of their birth or conception. [40]
The forms in which this foreign element may appear are many. [41] The foreign element
may simply consist in the fact that one of the parties to a contract is an alien or has a
foreign domicile, or that a contract between nationals of one State involves properties
situated in another State. In other cases, the foreign element may assume a complex form.
[42]

In the instant case, the foreign element consisted in the fact that private respondent
Morada is a resident Philippine national, and that petitioner SAUDIA is a resident foreign
corporation. Also, by virtue of the employment of Morada with the petitioner Saudia as a
flight stewardess, events did transpire during her many occasions of travel across national
borders, particularly from Manila, Philippines to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and vice versa, that
caused a conflicts situation to arise.
We thus find private respondents assertion that the case is purely domestic,
imprecise. A conflicts problem
presents
itself
here,
and
the
question
of
jurisdiction[43] confronts the court a quo.
After a careful study of the private respondents Amended Complaint, [44] and the
Comment thereon, we note that she aptly predicated her cause of action on Articles 19 and
21 of the New Civil Code.
On one hand, Article 19 of the New Civil Code provides;
Art. 19. Every person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of
his duties, act with justice give everyone his due and observe honesty and good
faith.
On the other hand, Article 21 of the New Civil Code provides:
Art. 21. Any person who willfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner that is
contrary to morals, good customs or public policy shall compensate the latter for
damages.
Thus, in Philippine National Bank (PNB) vs. Court of Appeals,[45] this Court held that:
The aforecited provisions on human relations were intended to expand the concept
of torts in this jurisdiction by granting adequate legal remedy for the untold number
of moral wrongs which is impossible for human foresight to specifically provide in
the statutes.
Although Article 19 merely declares a principle of law, Article 21 gives flesh to its
provisions. Thus, we agree with private respondents assertion that violations of Articles 19
and 21 are actionable, with judicially enforceable remedies in the municipal forum.

Based on the allegations[46] in the Amended Complaint, read in the light of the Rules of
Court on jurisdiction[47] we find that the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City possesses
jurisdiction over the subject matter of the suit. [48] Its authority to try and hear the case is
provided for under Section 1 of Republic Act No. 7691, to wit:
Section 1. Section 19 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, otherwise known as the Judiciary
Reorganization Act of 1980, is hereby amended to read as follows:
SEC. 19. Jurisdiction in Civil Cases. Regional Trial Courts shall exercise exclusive jurisdiction:
xxxxxxxxx
(8) In all other cases in which demand, exclusive of interest, damages of whatever kind,
attorneys fees, litigation expenses, and costs or the value of the property in controversy
exceeds One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) or, in such other cases in Metro Manila,
where the demand, exclusive of the above-mentioned items exceeds Two hundred Thousand
pesos (P200,000.00). (Emphasis ours)
xxxxxxxxx
And following Section 2 (b), Rule 4 of the Revised Rules of Courtthe venue, Quezon City,
is appropriate:
SEC. 2 Venue in Courts of First Instance. [Now Regional Trial Court]
(a) x x x x x x x x x
(b) Personal actions. All other actions may be commenced and tried where the
defendant or any of the defendants resides or may be found, or where the plaintiff
or any of the plaintiff resides, at the election of the plaintiff.
Pragmatic considerations, including the convenience of the parties, also weigh heavily in
favor of the RTC Quezon City assuming jurisdiction. Paramount is the private interest of the
litigant. Enforceability of a judgment if one is obtained is quite obvious. Relative advantages
and obstacles to a fair trial are equally important. Plaintiff may not, by choice of an
inconvenient forum, vex, harass, or oppress the defendant, e.g. by inflicting upon him
needless expense or disturbance. But unless the balance is strongly in favor of the
defendant, the plaintiffs choice of forum should rarely be disturbed. [49]
Weighing the relative claims of the parties, the court a quo found it best to hear the
case in the Philippines. Had it refused to take cognizance of the case, it would be forcing
plaintiff (private respondent now) to seek remedial action elsewhere, i.e. in the Kingdom of
Saudi Arabia where she no longer maintains substantial connections. That would have
caused a fundamental unfairness to her.
Moreover, by hearing the case in the Philippines no unnecessary difficulties and
inconvenience have been shown by either of the parties. The choice of forum of the plaintiff
(now private respondent) should be upheld.

Similarly, the trial court also possesses jurisdiction over the persons of the parties
herein. By filing her Complaint and Amended Complaint with the trial court, private
respondent has voluntary submitted herself to the jurisdiction of the court.
The records show that petitioner SAUDIA has filed several motions [50] praying for the
dismissal of Moradas Amended Complaint. SAUDIA also filed an Answer In Ex Abundante
Cautelam dated February 20, 1995. What is very patent and explicit from the motions filed,
is that SAUDIA prayed for other reliefs under the premises. Undeniably, petitioner SAUDIA
has effectively submitted to the trial courts jurisdiction by praying for the dismissal of the
Amended Complaint on grounds other than lack of jurisdiction.
As held by this Court in Republic vs. Ker and Company, Ltd.:[51]
We observe that the motion to dismiss filed on April 14, 1962, aside from disputing
the lower courts jurisdiction over defendants person, prayed for dismissal of the
complaint on the ground that plaintiffs cause of action has prescribed. By
interposing such second ground in its motion to dismiss, Ker and Co., Ltd. availed of
an affirmative defense on the basis of which it prayed the court to resolve
controversy in its favor. For the court to validly decide the said plea of defendant
Ker & Co., Ltd., it necessarily had to acquire jurisdiction upon the latters person,
who, being the proponent of the affirmative defense, should be deemed to have
abandoned its special appearance and voluntarily submitted itself to the
jurisdiction of the court.
Similarly, the case of De Midgely vs. Ferandos, held that:
When the appearance is by motion for the purpose of objecting to the jurisdiction of
the court over the person, it must be for the sole and separate purpose of objecting
to the jurisdiction of the court. If his motion is for any other purpose than to object
to the jurisdiction of the court over his person, he thereby submits himself to the
jurisdiction of the court. A special appearance by motion made for the purpose of
objecting to the jurisdiction of the court over the person will be held to be a general
appearance, if the party in said motion should, for example, ask for a dismissal of
the action upon the further ground that the court had no jurisdiction over the
subject matter.[52]
Clearly, petitioner had submitted to the jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon
City. Thus, we find that the trial court has jurisdiction over the case and that its exercise
thereof, justified.
As to the choice of applicable law, we note that choice-of-law problems seek to answer
two important questions: (1) What legal system should control a given situation where some
of the significant facts occurred in two or more states; and (2) to what extent should the
chosen legal system regulate the situation.[53]
Several theories have been propounded in order to identify the legal system that should
ultimately control. Although ideally, all choice-of-law theories should intrinsically advance

both notions of justice and predictability, they do not always do so. The forum is then faced
with the problem of deciding which of these two important values should be stressed. [54]
Before a choice can be made, it is necessary for us to determine under what category a
certain set of facts or rules fall. This process is known as characterization, or the doctrine of
qualification. It is the process of deciding whether or not the facts relate to the kind of
question specified in a conflicts rule. [55] The purpose of characterization is to enable the
forum to select the proper law.[56]
Our starting point of analysis here is not a legal relation, but a factual situation, event,
or operative fact.[57] An essential element of conflict rules is the indication of a test or
connecting factor or point of contact. Choice-of-law rules invariably consist of a factual
relationship (such as property right, contract claim) and a connecting factor or point of
contact, such as the situs of the res, the place of celebration, the place of performance, or
the place of wrongdoing.[58]
Note that one or more circumstances may be present to serve as the possible test for
the determination of the applicable law.[59] These test factors or points of contact or
connecting factors could be any of the following:
(1) The nationality of a person, his domicile, his residence, his place of sojourn, or
his origin;
(2) the seat of a legal or juridical person, such as a corporation;
(3) the situs of a thing, that is, the place where a thing is, or is deemed to be
situated. In particular, the lex situs is decisive when real rights are involved;
(4) the place where an act has been done, the locus actus, such as the
place where a contract has been made, a marriage celebrated, a will
signed or a tort committed. The lex loci actus is particularly important in
contracts and torts;
(5) the place where an act is intended to come into effect, e.g., the place of
performance of contractual duties, or the place where a power of attorney is to be
exercised;
(6) the intention of the contracting parties as to the law that should govern their
agreement, the lex loci intentionis;
(7) the place where judicial or administrative proceedings are instituted or
done. The lex forithe law of the forumis particularly important because, as we have
seen earlier, matters of procedure not going to the substance of the claim involved
are governed by it; and because the lex fori applies whenever the content of the
otherwise applicable foreign law is excluded from application in a given case for the
reason that it falls under one of the exceptions to the applications of foreign law;
and

(8) the flag of a ship, which in many cases is decisive of practically all legal
relationships of the ship and of its master or owner as such. It also covers
contractual relationships particularly contracts of affreightment. [60] (Underscoring
ours.)
After a careful study of the pleadings on record, including allegations in the Amended
Complaint deemed submitted for purposes of the motion to dismiss, we are convinced that
there is reasonable basis for private respondents assertion that although she was already
working in Manila, petitioner brought her to Jeddah on the pretense that she would merely
testify in an investigation of the charges she made against the two SAUDIA crew members
for the attack on her person while they were in Jakarta. As it turned out, she was the one
made to face trial for very serious charges, including adultery and violation of Islamic laws
and tradition.
There is likewise logical basis on record for the claim that the handing over or turning
over of the person of private respondent to Jeddah officials, petitioner may have acted
beyond its duties as employer. Petitioners purported act contributed to and amplified or
even proximately caused additional humiliation, misery and suffering of private
respondent.Petitioner thereby allegedly facilitated the arrest, detention and prosecution of
private respondent under the guise of petitioners authority as employer, taking advantage of
the trust, confidence and faith she reposed upon it. As purportedly found by the Prince of
Makkah, the alleged conviction and imprisonment of private respondent was wrongful. But
these capped the injury or harm allegedly inflicted upon her person and reputation, for
which petitioner could be liable as claimed, to provide compensation or redress for the
wrongs done, once duly proven.
Considering that the complaint in the court a quo is one involving torts, the connecting
factor or point of contact could be the place or places where the tortious conduct or lex loci
actus occurred. And applying the torts principle in a conflicts case, we find that the
Philippines could be said as a situs of the tort (the place where the alleged tortious conduct
took place). This is because it is in the Philippines where petitioner allegedly deceived
private respondent, a Filipina residing and working here. According to her, she had honestly
believed that petitioner would, in the exercise of its rights and in the performance of its
duties, act with justice, give her her due and observe honesty and good faith. Instead,
petitioner failed to protect her, she claimed. That certain acts or parts of the injury allegedly
occurred in another country is of no moment. For in our view what is important here is the
place where the over-all harm or the fatality of the alleged injury to the person, reputation,
social standing and human rights of complainant, had lodged, according to the plaintiff
below (herein private respondent). All told, it is not without basis to identify the Philippines
as the situs of the alleged tort.
Moreover, with the widespread criticism of the traditional rule of lex loci delicti
commissi, modern theories and rules on tort liability [61] have been advanced to offer fresh
judicial approaches to arrive at just results. In keeping abreast with the modern theories on
tort liability, we find here an occasion to apply the State of the most significant relationship
rule, which in our view should be appropriate to apply now, given the factual context of this
case.

In applying said principle to determine the State which has the most significant
relationship, the following contacts are to be taken into account and evaluated according to
their relative importance with respect to the particular issue: (a) the place where the injury
occurred; (b) the place where the conduct causing the injury occurred; (c) the domicile,
residence, nationality, place of incorporation and place of business of the parties, and (d) the
place where the relationship, if any, between the parties is centered. [62]
As already discussed, there is basis for the claim that over-all injury occurred and lodged
in the Philippines. There is likewise no question that private respondent is a resident Filipina
national, working with petitioner, a resident foreign corporation engaged here in the
business of international air carriage. Thus, the relationship between the parties was
centered here, although it should be stressed that this suit is not based on mere labor law
violations. From the record, the claim that the Philippines has the most significant contact
with the matter in this dispute,[63] raised by private respondent as plaintiff below against
defendant (herein petitioner), in our view, has been properly established.
Prescinding from this premise that the Philippines is the situs of the tort complaint of
and the place having the most interest in the problem, we find, by way of recapitulation, that
the Philippine law on tort liability should have paramount application to and control in the
resolution of the legal issues arising out of this case. Further, we hold that the respondent
Regional Trial Court has jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter of the complaint;
the appropriate venue is in Quezon City, which could properly apply Philippine law.Moreover,
we find untenable petitioners insistence that [s]ince private respondent instituted this suit,
she has the burden of pleading and proving the applicable Saudi law on the matter. [64] As
aptly said by private respondent, she has no obligation to plead and prove the law of the
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since her cause of action is based on Articles 19 and 21 of the Civil
Code of the Philippines. In her Amended Complaint and subsequent pleadings she never
alleged that Saudi law should govern this case.[65] And as correctly held by the respondent
appellate court, considering that it was the petitioner who was invoking the applicability of
the law of Saudi Arabia, thus the burden was on it [petitioner] to plead and to establish what
the law of Saudi Arabia is.[66]
Lastly, no error could be imputed to the respondent appellate court in upholding the trial
courts denial of defendants (herein petitioners) motion to dismiss the case. Not only was
jurisdiction in order and venue properly laid, but appeal after trial was obviously available,
and the expeditious trial itself indicated by the nature of the case at hand. Indubitably, the
Philippines is the state intimately concerned with the ultimate outcome of the case below
not just for the benefit of all the litigants, but also for the vindication of the countrys system
of law and justice in a transnational setting. With these guidelines in mind, the trial court
must proceed to try and adjudge the case in the light of relevant Philippine law, with due
consideration of the foreign element or elements involved. Nothing said herein, of course,
should be construed as prejudging the results of the case in any manner whatsoever.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition for certiorari is hereby DISMISSED. Civil Case No. Q93-18394 entitled Milagros P. Morada vs. Saudi Arabia Airlines is hereby REMANDED to
Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 89 for further proceedings.
SO ORDERED.

STATUS AND CAPACITY


Republic of the Philippines
Supreme Court
Manila

THIRD DIVISION

GERBERT R. CORPUZ,
Petitioner,

G.R. No. 186571


Present:

CARPIO MORALES, J., Chairperson,


BRION,
BERSAMIN,
-

versus -

ABAD, and

VILLARAMA, JR., JJ.

Promulgated:
August 11, 2010
DAISYLYN TIROL STO. TOMAS and
The SOLICITOR GENERAL,
Respondents. -- x--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
DECISION
BRION, J.:

Before the Court is a direct appeal from the decision [1] of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Laoag City, Branch 11, elevated via a petition for review oncertiorari[2] under Rule
45 of the Rules of Court (present petition).

Petitioner Gerbert R. Corpuz was a former Filipino citizen who acquired Canadian
citizenship through naturalization on November 29, 2000.[3] On January 18, 2005, Gerbert
married respondent Daisylyn T. Sto. Tomas, a Filipina, in Pasig City.[4] Due to work and other
professional commitments, Gerbert left for Canada soon after the wedding. He returned to
the Philippines sometime in April 2005 to surprise Daisylyn, but was shocked to discover that
his wife was having an affair with another man. Hurt and disappointed, Gerbert returned
to Canada and

filed

petition

for

divorce. The

Superior

Court

of

Justice, Windsor, Ontario, Canada granted Gerberts petition for divorce on December 8,
2005. The divorce decree took effect a month later, on January 8, 2006.[5]

Two years after the divorce, Gerbert has moved on and has found another Filipina to
love. Desirous of marrying his new Filipina fiance in the Philippines, Gerbert went to the
Pasig City Civil Registry Office and registered the Canadian divorce decree on his and
Daisylyns marriage certificate. Despite the registration of the divorce decree, an official of
the National Statistics Office (NSO) informed Gerbert that the marriage between him and
Daisylyn still subsists under Philippine law; to be enforceable, the foreign divorce decree
must first be judicially recognized by a competent Philippine court, pursuant to NSO Circular
No. 4, series of 1982.[6]

Accordingly, Gerbert filed a petition for judicial recognition of foreign divorce


and/or

declaration

of

marriage

as

dissolved (petition)

with

the

RTC.Although

summoned, Daisylyn did not file any responsive pleading but submitted instead a notarized
letter/manifestation to the trial court. She offered no opposition to Gerberts petition and, in
fact, alleged her desire to file a similar case herself but was prevented by financial and
personal circumstances. She, thus, requested that she be considered as a party-in-interest
with a similar prayer to Gerberts.

In its October 30, 2008 decision,[7] the RTC denied Gerberts petition. The RTC
concluded that Gerbert was not the proper party to institute the action for judicial
recognition of the foreign divorce decree as he is a naturalized Canadian citizen. It ruled
that only the Filipino spouse can avail of the remedy, under the second paragraph of Article
26 of the Family Code,[8] in order for him or her to be able to remarry under Philippine law.
[9]

Article 26 of the Family Code reads:

Art. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines, in accordance


with the laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid
there as such, shall also be valid in this country, except those prohibited under
Articles 35(1), (4), (5) and (6), 36, 37 and 38.

Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is


validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad
by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino
spouse shall likewise have capacity to remarry under Philippine law.

This conclusion, the RTC stated, is consistent with the legislative intent behind the
enactment of the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, as determined by the
Court in Republic v. Orbecido III;[10] the provision was enacted to avoid the absurd situation
where the Filipino spouse remains married to the alien spouse who, after obtaining a divorce,
is no longer married to the Filipino spouse.[11]

THE PETITION

From the RTCs ruling,[12] Gerbert filed the present petition.[13]


Gerbert asserts that his petition before the RTC is essentially for declaratory relief,
similar to that filed in Orbecido; he, thus, similarly asks for a determination of his rights
under the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code. Taking into account the
rationale behind the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, he contends that the

provision applies as well to the benefit of the alien spouse. He claims that the RTC ruling
unduly stretched the doctrine in Orbecido by limiting the standing to file the petition only to
the Filipino spouse an interpretation he claims to be contrary to the essence of the second
paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code. He considers himself as a proper party, vested
with sufficient legal interest, to institute the case, as there is a possibility that he might be
prosecuted for bigamy if he marries his Filipina fiance in the Philippines since two marriage
certificates, involving him, would be on file with the Civil Registry Office. The Office of the
Solicitor General and Daisylyn, in their respective Comments, [14] both support Gerberts
position.

Essentially, the petition raises the issue of whether the second paragraph of Article 26
of the Family Code extends to aliens the right to petition a court of this
jurisdiction for the recognition of a foreign divorce decree.
THE COURTS RULING

The alien spouse can claim no right under


the second paragraph of Article 26 of the
Family Code as the substantive right it
establishes is in favor of the Filipino spouse

The resolution of the issue requires a review of the legislative history and intent behind the
second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code.

The

Family

Code

recognizes

only

two

types

of

defective

marriages

void [15] and

voidable[16] marriages. In both cases, the basis for the judicial declaration of absolute nullity
or annulment of the marriage exists before or at the time of the marriage. Divorce, on the
other hand, contemplates the dissolution of the lawful union for cause arising after the
marriage.[17] Our family laws do not recognize absolute divorce between Filipino citizens. [18]
Recognizing the reality that divorce is a possibility in marriages between a Filipino
and an alien, President Corazon C. Aquino, in the exercise of her legislative powers under the

Freedom Constitution,[19] enacted Executive Order No. (EO) 227, amending Article 26 of the
Family Code to its present wording, as follows:

Art. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines, in accordance


with the laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid
there as such, shall also be valid in this country, except those prohibited under
Articles 35(1), (4), (5) and (6), 36, 37 and 38.

Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is


validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad
by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino
spouse shall likewise have capacity to remarry under Philippine law.

Through the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, EO 227 effectively
incorporated into the law this Courts holding in Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr. [20] andPilapil v. IbaySomera.[21] In both cases, the Court refused to acknowledge the alien spouses assertion of
marital rights after a foreign courts divorce decree between the alien and the Filipino. The
Court, thus, recognized that the foreign divorce had already severed the marital bond
between the spouses. The Court reasoned in Van Dorn v. Romillo that:

To maintain x x x that, under our laws, [the Filipino spouse] has to be


considered still married to [the alien spouse] and still subject to a
wife's obligations x x x cannot be just.[The Filipino spouse] should not be
obliged to live together with, observe respect and fidelity, and render support
to [the alien spouse]. The latter should not continue to be one of her heirs
with possible rights to conjugal property. She should not be discriminated
against in her own country if the ends of justice are to be served. [22]

As the RTC correctly stated, the provision was included in the law to avoid the absurd
situation where the Filipino spouse remains married to the alien spouse who, after obtaining
a divorce, is no longer married to the Filipino spouse. [23] The legislative intent is for the
benefit of the Filipino spouse, by clarifying his or her marital status, settling the doubts
created by the divorce decree. Essentially, the second paragraph of Article 26 of the
Family Code provided the Filipino spouse a substantive right to have his or her

marriage to the alien spouse considered as dissolved, capacitating him or her to


remarry.[24] Without the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, the judicial
recognition of the foreign decree of divorce, whether in a proceeding instituted precisely for
that purpose or as a related issue in another proceeding, would be of no significance to the
Filipino spouse since our laws do not recognize divorce as a mode of severing the marital
bond;[25] Article 17 of the Civil Code provides that the policy against absolute divorces cannot
be subverted by judgments promulgated in a foreign country. The inclusion of the second
paragraph in Article 26 of the Family Code provides the direct exception to this rule and
serves as basis for recognizing the dissolution of the marriage between the Filipino spouse
and his or her alien spouse.

Additionally, an action based on the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code is not
limited to the recognition of the foreign divorce decree. If the court finds that the decree
capacitated the alien spouse to remarry, the courts can declare that the Filipino spouse is
likewise capacitated to contract another marriage. No court in this jurisdiction, however, can
make a similar declaration for the alien spouse (other than that already established by the
decree), whose status and legal capacity are generally governed by his national law. [26]

Given the rationale and intent behind the enactment, and the purpose of the second
paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, the RTC was correct in limiting the applicability of
the provision for the benefit of the Filipino spouse. In other words, only the Filipino spouse
can invoke the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code; the alien spouse can
claim no right under this provision.

The foreign divorce decree is presumptive


evidence of a right that clothes the party
with legal interest to petition for its
recognition in this jurisdiction

We qualify our above conclusion i.e., that the second paragraph of Article 26 of the
Family Code bestows no rights in favor of aliens with the complementary statement that this

conclusion is not sufficient basis to dismiss Gerberts petition before the RTC. In other words,
the unavailability of the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code to aliens does not
necessarily strip Gerbert of legal interest to petition the RTC for the recognition of his foreign
divorce decree. The foreign divorce decree itself, after its authenticity and conformity with
the aliens national law have been duly proven according to our rules of evidence, serves as
a presumptive evidence of right in favor of Gerbert, pursuant to Section 48, Rule 39 of the
Rules of Court which provides for the effect of foreign judgments. This Section states:

SEC. 48. Effect of foreign judgments or final orders.The effect of a


judgment or final order of a tribunal of a foreign country, having
jurisdiction to render the judgment or final order is as follows:

(a)

In case of a judgment or final order upon a specific thing,


the judgment or final order is conclusive upon the title of the
thing; and

(b)

In case of a judgment or final order against a


person, the judgment or final order is presumptive
evidence of a right as between the parties and their
successors in interest by a subsequent title.

In either case, the judgment or final order may be repelled by evidence


of a want of jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear
mistake of law or fact.

To our mind, direct involvement or being the subject of the foreign judgment is sufficient to
clothe a party with the requisite interest to institute an action before our courts for the
recognition of the foreign judgment. In a divorce situation, we have declared, no less, that
the divorce obtained by an alien abroad may be recognized in the Philippines, provided the
divorce is valid according to his or her national law.[27]

The starting point in any recognition of a foreign divorce judgment is the


acknowledgment that our courts do not take judicial notice of foreign judgments and

laws. Justice Herrera explained that, as a rule, no sovereign is bound to give effect within its
dominion to a judgment rendered by a tribunal of another country. [28] This means that the
foreign judgment and its authenticity must be proven as facts under our rules on evidence,
together with the aliens applicable national law to show the effect of the judgment on the
alien himself or herself.[29] The recognition may be made in an action instituted specifically
for the purpose or in another action where a party invokes the foreign decree as an integral
aspect of his claim or defense.

In Gerberts case, since both the foreign divorce decree and the national law of the
alien, recognizing his or her capacity to obtain a divorce, purport to be official acts of a
sovereign authority, Section 24, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court comes into play. This Section
requires proof, either by (1) official publications or (2) copies attested by the officer having
legal custody of the documents. If the copies of official records are not kept in
the Philippines, these must be (a) accompanied by a certificate issued by the proper
diplomatic or consular officer in the Philippine foreign service stationed in the foreign
country in which the record is kept and (b) authenticated by the seal of his office.

The records show that Gerbert attached to his petition a copy of the divorce decree,
as well as the required certificates proving its authenticity, [30] but failed to include a copy of
the Canadian law on divorce. [31] Under this situation, we can, at this point, simply dismiss the
petition for insufficiency of supporting evidence, unless we deem it more appropriate to
remand the case to the RTC to determine whether the divorce decree is consistent with the
Canadian divorce law.

We deem it more appropriate to take this latter course of action, given the Article 26
interests that will be served and the Filipina wifes (Daisylyns) obvious conformity with the
petition. A remand, at the same time, will allow other interested parties to oppose the
foreign judgment and overcome a petitioners presumptive evidence of a right by proving
want of jurisdiction, want of notice to a party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or
fact. Needless to state, every precaution must be taken to ensure conformity with our laws
before a recognition is made, as the foreign judgment, once recognized, shall have the effect

of res judicata[32] between the parties, as provided in Section 48, Rule 39 of the Rules of
Court.[33]

In fact, more than the principle of comity that is served by the practice of reciprocal
recognition of foreign judgments between nations, the res judicata effect of the foreign
judgments of divorce serves as the deeper basis for extending judicial recognition and for
considering the alien spouse bound by its terms. This same effect, as discussed above, will
not obtain for the Filipino spouse were it not for the substantive rule that the second
paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code provides.

Considerations beyond the recognition of


the foreign divorce decree
As a matter of housekeeping concern, we note that the Pasig City Civil Registry
Office has already recorded the divorce decree on Gerbert and Daisylyns marriage
certificate based on the mere presentation of the decree. [34] We consider the
recording to be legally improper; hence, the need to draw attention of the bench and the bar
to what had been done.

Article 407 of the Civil Code states that [a]cts, events and judicial decrees concerning the
civil status of persons shall be recorded in the civil register. The law requires the entry in the
civil registry of judicial decrees that produce legal consequences touching upon a persons
legal capacity and status, i.e., those affecting all his personal qualities and relations, more or
less permanent in nature, not ordinarily terminable at his own will, such as his being
legitimate or illegitimate, or his being married or not.[35]

A judgment of divorce is a judicial decree, although a foreign one, affecting a persons


legal capacity and status that must be recorded. In fact, Act No. 3753 or the Law on Registry
of Civil Status specifically requires the registration of divorce decrees in the civil registry:

Sec. 1. Civil Register. A civil register is established for recording the


civil status of persons, in which shall be entered:

(a)

births;

(b) deaths;
(c)

marriages;

(d) annulments of marriages;


(e)
(f)

divorces;
legitimations;

(g) adoptions;
(h) acknowledgment of natural children;
(i)

naturalization; and

(j)

changes of name.

xxxx

Sec. 4. Civil Register Books. The local registrars shall keep and preserve in
their offices the following books, in which they shall, respectively make the
proper entries concerning the civil status of persons:

(1) Birth and death register;

(2) Marriage register, in which shall be entered not only the


marriages solemnized but also divorces and dissolved
marriages.

(3) Legitimation, acknowledgment, adoption, change of name and


naturalization register.

But while the law requires the entry of the divorce decree in the civil registry, the law and
the

submission

of

the

decree

by

themselves

do

not ipso

facto authorize

the

decrees registration. The law should be read in relation with the requirement of a judicial
recognition of the foreign judgment before it can be given res judicata effect.In the context
of the present case, no judicial order as yet exists recognizing the foreign divorce
decree. Thus, the Pasig City Civil Registry Office acted totally out of turn and without
authority of law when it annotated the Canadian divorce decree on Gerbert and Daisylyns
marriage certificate, on the strength alone of the foreign decree presented by Gerbert.

Evidently, the Pasig City Civil Registry Office was aware of the requirement of a court
recognition, as it cited NSO Circular No. 4, series of 1982, [36] and Department of Justice
Opinion No. 181, series of 1982 [37] both of which required a final order from a competent
Philippine court before a foreign judgment, dissolving a marriage, can be registered in the
civil registry, but it, nonetheless, allowed the registration of the decree. For being contrary to
law, the registration of the foreign divorce decree without the requisite judicial recognition is
patently void and cannot produce any legal effect.

Another point we wish to draw attention to is that the recognition that the RTC may
extend to the Canadian divorce decree does not, by itself, authorize thecancellation of the
entry in the civil registry. A petition for recognition of a foreign judgment is not the proper
proceeding, contemplated under the Rules of Court, for the cancellation of entries in the civil
registry.

Article 412 of the Civil Code declares that no entry in a civil register shall be changed
or corrected, without judicial order. The Rules of Court supplements Article 412 of the Civil
Code by specifically providing for a special remedial proceeding by which entries in the civil
registry may be judicially cancelled or corrected.Rule 108 of the Rules of Court sets in detail
the jurisdictional and procedural requirements that must be complied with before a
judgment, authorizing the cancellation or correction, may be annotated in the civil registry. It
also requires, among others, that the verified petition must be filed with the RTC of the
province where the corresponding civil registry is located; [38] that the civil registrar and all
persons who have or claim any interest must be made parties to the proceedings; [39] and
that the time and place for hearing must be published in a newspaper of general circulation.
[40]

As these basic jurisdictional requirements have not been met in the present case, we

cannot consider the petition Gerbert filed with the RTC as one filed under Rule 108 of the
Rules of Court.

We hasten to point out, however, that this ruling should not be construed as requiring two
separate proceedings for the registration of a foreign divorce decree in the civil registry one
for recognition of the foreign decree and another specifically for cancellation of the entry
under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court. The recognition of the foreign divorce decree may be
made in a Rule 108 proceeding itself, as the object of special proceedings (such as that in
Rule 108 of the Rules of Court) is precisely to establish the status or right of a party or a
particular fact. Moreover, Rule 108 of the Rules of Court can serve as the appropriate
adversarial proceeding[41] by which the applicability of the foreign judgment can be
measured and tested in terms of jurisdictional infirmities, want of notice to the party,
collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact.

WHEREFORE,

we GRANT the

and REVERSE the October

30,

petition

2008 decision

of

for

review

on certiorari,

the Regional Trial Court of Laoag City,

Branch 11, as well as its February 17, 2009 order. We order the REMAND of the case to the
trial court for further proceedings in accordance with our ruling above.Let a copy of this
Decision be furnished the Civil Registrar General. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

CHARACTERISTICS OF STATUS
SECOND DIVISION
REPUBLIC OF THEPHILIPPINES,
Petitioner,

G.R. No. 166676


Present:

- versus -

JENNIFER B. CAGANDAHAN,

QUISUMBING, J., Chairperson,


CARPIO MORALES,
TINGA,
VELASCO, JR., and
BRION, JJ.
Promulgated:

Respondent.
September 12, 2008
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
DECISION
QUISUMBING, J.:

This is a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court raising purely questions
of law and seeking a reversal of the Decision [1] dated January 12, 2005 of the Regional Trial
Court (RTC), Branch 33 of Siniloan, Laguna, which granted the Petition for Correction of Entries
in Birth Certificate filed by Jennifer B. Cagandahan and ordered the following changes of
entries in Cagandahans birth certificate: (1) the name Jennifer Cagandahan changed to Jeff
Cagandahan and (2) gender from female to male.
The facts are as follows.
On December 11, 2003, respondent Jennifer Cagandahan filed a Petition for
Correction of Entries in Birth Certificate[2] before the RTC, Branch 33 of Siniloan, Laguna.
In her petition, she alleged that she was born on January 13, 1981 and was registered
as a female in the Certificate of Live Birth but while growing up, she developed secondary
male characteristics and was diagnosed to have Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH) which
is a condition where persons thus afflicted possess both male and female
characteristics. She further alleged that she was diagnosed to have clitoral hyperthropy in
her early years and at age six, underwent an ultrasound where it was discovered that she
has small ovaries. At age thirteen, tests revealed that her ovarian structures had minimized,
she has stopped growing and she has no breast or menstrual development. She then alleged
that for all interests and appearances as well as in mind and emotion, she has become a
male person. Thus, she prayed that her birth certificate be corrected such that her gender
be changed from female to male and her first name be changed from Jennifer to Jeff.
The petition was published in a newspaper of general circulation for three (3)
consecutive weeks and was posted in conspicuous places by the sheriff of the court. The
Solicitor General entered his appearance and authorized the Assistant Provincial Prosecutor
to appear in his behalf.
To prove her claim, respondent testified and presented the testimony of Dr. Michael
Sionzon of the Department of Psychiatry, University of the PhilippinesPhilippine General
Hospital. Dr. Sionzon issued a medical certificate stating that respondents condition is known
as CAH. He explained that genetically respondent is female but because her body secretes
male hormones, her female organs did not develop normally and she has two sex organs

female and male. He testified that this condition is very rare, that respondents uterus is not
fully developed because of lack of female hormones, and that she has no monthly period. He
further testified that respondents condition is permanent and recommended the change of
gender because respondent has made up her mind, adjusted to her chosen role as male, and
the gender change would be advantageous to her.
The RTC granted respondents petition in a Decision dated January 12, 2005 which
reads:
The Court is convinced that petitioner has satisfactorily shown that he
is entitled to the reliefs prayed [for]. Petitioner has adequately presented to
the Court very clear and convincing proofs for the granting of his petition. It
was medically proven that petitioners body produces male hormones, and first
his body as well as his action and feelings are that of a male. He has chosen
to be male. He is a normal person and wants to be acknowledged and
identified as a male.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Civil Register of Pakil, Laguna is
hereby ordered to make the following corrections in the birth [c]ertificate of
Jennifer Cagandahan upon payment of the prescribed fees:
a)
By changing the name from Jennifer Cagandahan to JEFF
CAGANDAHAN; and
b)

By changing the gender from female to MALE.

It is likewise ordered that petitioners school records, voters registry,


baptismal certificate, and other pertinent records are hereby amended to
conform with the foregoing corrected data.
SO ORDERED.[3]

Thus, this petition by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) seeking a reversal of
the abovementioned ruling.
The issues raised by petitioner are:
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN GRANTING THE PETITION CONSIDERING THAT:
I.
THE REQUIREMENTS OF RULES 103 AND 108 OF THE RULES OF COURT HAVE
NOT BEEN COMPLIED WITH; AND,
II.
CORRECTION OF ENTRY UNDER RULE 108 DOES NOT ALLOW CHANGE OF SEX
OR GENDER IN THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE, WHILE RESPONDENTS MEDICAL
CONDITION, i.e., CONGENITAL ADRENAL HYPERPLASIA DOES NOT MAKE HER A
MALE.[4]

Simply stated, the issue is whether the trial court erred in ordering the correction of
entries in the birth certificate of respondent to change her sex or gender, from female to
male, on the ground of her medical condition known as CAH, and her name from Jennifer to
Jeff, under Rules 103 and 108 of the Rules of Court.
The OSG contends that the petition below is fatally defective for non-compliance with
Rules 103 and 108 of the Rules of Court because while the local civil registrar is an
indispensable party in a petition for cancellation or correction of entries under Section 3,
Rule 108 of the Rules of Court, respondents petition before the court a quo did not implead
the local civil registrar. [5] The OSG further contends respondents petition is fatally defective
since it failed to state that respondent is abona fide resident of the province where the
petition was filed for at least three (3) years prior to the date of such filing as mandated
under Section 2(b), Rule 103 of the Rules of Court. [6] The OSG argues that Rule 108 does not
allow change of sex or gender in the birth certificate and respondents claimed medical
condition known as CAH does not make her a male.[7]
On the other hand, respondent counters that although the Local Civil Registrar of
Pakil, Laguna was not formally named a party in the Petition for Correction of Birth
Certificate, nonetheless the Local Civil Registrar was furnished a copy of the Petition, the
Order to publish on December 16, 2003 and all pleadings, orders or processes in the course
of the proceedings,[8] respondent is actually a male person and hence his birth certificate
has to be corrected to reflect his true sex/gender, [9]change of sex or gender is allowed under
Rule 108,[10] and respondent substantially complied with the requirements of Rules 103 and
108 of the Rules of Court.[11]
Rules 103 and 108 of the Rules of Court provide:

Rule 103
CHANGE OF NAME
SECTION 1. Venue. A person desiring to change his name shall present the
petition to the Regional Trial Court of the province in which he resides, [or, in
the City of Manila, to the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court].
SEC. 2. Contents of petition. A petition for change of name shall be signed and
verified by the person desiring his name changed, or some other person on
his behalf, and shall set forth:
(a) That the petitioner has been a bona fide resident of the province
where the petition is filed for at least three (3) years prior to the date
of such filing;
(b) The cause for which the change of the petitioner's name is sought;
(c) The name asked for.

SEC. 3. Order for hearing. If the petition filed is sufficient in form and
substance, the court, by an order reciting the purpose of the petition, shall fix
a date and place for the hearing thereof, and shall direct that a copy of the
order be published before the hearing at least once a week for three (3)
successive weeks in some newspaper of general circulation published in the
province, as the court shall deem best. The date set for the hearing shall not
be within thirty (30) days prior to an election nor within four (4) months after
the last publication of the notice.
SEC. 4. Hearing. Any interested person may appear at the hearing and oppose
the petition. The Solicitor General or the proper provincial or city fiscal shall
appear on behalf of the Government of the Republic.
SEC. 5. Judgment. Upon satisfactory proof in open court on the date fixed in
the order that such order has been published as directed and that the
allegations of the petition are true, the court shall, if proper and reasonable
cause appears for changing the name of the petitioner, adjudge that such
name be changed in accordance with the prayer of the petition.
SEC. 6. Service of judgment. Judgments or orders rendered in connection with
this rule shall be furnished the civil registrar of the municipality or city where
the court issuing the same is situated, who shall forthwith enter the same in
the civil register.
Rule 108
CANCELLATION OR CORRECTION OF ENTRIES
IN THE CIVIL REGISTRY
SECTION 1. Who may file petition. Any person interested in any act, event,
order or decree concerning the civil status of persons which has been
recorded in the civil register, may file a verified petition for the cancellation or
correction of any entry relating thereto, with the Regional Trial Court of the
province where the corresponding civil registry is located.
SEC. 2. Entries subject to cancellation or correction. Upon good and valid
grounds, the following entries in the civil register may be cancelled or
corrected: (a) births; (b) marriages; (c) deaths; (d) legal separations; (e)
judgments of annulments of marriage; (f) judgments declaring marriages void
from the beginning; (g) legitimations; (h) adoptions; (i) acknowledgments of
natural children; (j) naturalization; (k) election, loss or recovery of citizenship;
(l) civil interdiction; (m) judicial determination of filiation; (n) voluntary
emancipation of a minor; and (o) changes of name.
SEC. 3. Parties. When cancellation or correction of an entry in the civil register
is sought, the civil registrar and all persons who have or claim any interest
which would be affected thereby shall be made parties to the proceeding.
SEC. 4. Notice and publication. Upon the filing of the petition, the court shall,
by an order, fix the time and place for the hearing of the same, and cause
reasonable notice thereof to be given to the persons named in the petition.
The court shall also cause the order to be published once a week for three (3)
consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the province.
SEC. 5. Opposition. The civil registrar and any person having or claiming any
interest under the entry whose cancellation or correction is sought may, within

fifteen (15) days from notice of the petition, or from the last date of
publication of such notice, file his opposition thereto.
SEC. 6. Expediting proceedings. The court in which the proceedings is brought
may make orders expediting the proceedings, and may also grant preliminary
injunction for the preservation of the rights of the parties pending such
proceedings.
SEC. 7. Order. After hearing, the court may either dismiss the petition or issue
an order granting the cancellation or correction prayed for. In either case, a
certified copy of the judgment shall be served upon the civil registrar
concerned who shall annotate the same in his record.

The OSG argues that the petition below is fatally defective for non-compliance with
Rules 103 and 108 of the Rules of Court because respondents petition did not implead the
local civil registrar. Section 3, Rule 108 provides that the civil registrar and all persons who
have or claim any interest which would be affected thereby shall be made parties to the
proceedings. Likewise, the local civil registrar is required to be made a party in a proceeding
for the correction of name in the civil registry.He is an indispensable party without whom no
final determination of the case can be had. [12] Unless all possible indispensable parties were
duly notified of the proceedings, the same shall be considered as falling much too short of
the requirements of the rules.[13] The corresponding petition should also implead as
respondents the civil registrar and all other persons who may have or may claim to have any
interest that would be affected thereby. [14] Respondent, however, invokes Section 6,[15] Rule
1 of the Rules of Court which states that courts shall construe the Rules liberally to promote
their objectives of securing to the parties a just, speedy and inexpensive disposition of the
matters brought before it. We agree that there is substantial compliance with Rule 108 when
respondent furnished a copy of the petition to the local civil registrar.
The determination of a persons sex appearing in his birth certificate is a legal issue
and the court must look to the statutes. In this connection, Article 412 of the Civil Code
provides:
ART. 412. No entry in a civil register shall be changed or corrected without a
judicial order.

Together with Article 376[16] of the Civil Code, this provision was amended by
Republic Act No. 9048[17] in so far as clerical or typographical errors are involved. The
correction or change of such matters can now be made through administrative proceedings
and without the need for a judicial order. In effect, Rep. Act No. 9048 removed from the
ambit of Rule 108 of the Rules of Court the correction of such errors. Rule 108 now applies
only to substantial changes and corrections in entries in the civil register. [18]

Under Rep. Act No. 9048, a correction in the civil registry involving the change of sex
is not a mere clerical or typographical error. It is a substantial change for which the
applicable procedure is Rule 108 of the Rules of Court.[19]
The entries envisaged in Article 412 of the Civil Code and correctable under Rule 108
of the Rules of Court are those provided in Articles 407 and 408 of the Civil Code:
ART. 407. Acts, events and judicial decrees concerning the civil status of
persons shall be recorded in the civil register.
ART. 408. The following shall be entered in the civil register:
(1) Births; (2) marriages; (3) deaths; (4) legal separations; (5) annulments of
marriage; (6) judgments declaring marriages void from the beginning; (7)
legitimations; (8) adoptions; (9) acknowledgments of natural children; (10)
naturalization; (11) loss, or (12) recovery of citizenship; (13) civil interdiction;
(14) judicial determination of filiation; (15) voluntary emancipation of a minor;
and (16) changes of name.

The acts, events or factual errors contemplated under Article 407 of the Civil Code
include even those that occur after birth.[20]
Respondent undisputedly has CAH. This condition causes the early or inappropriate
appearance of male characteristics. A person, like respondent, with this condition produces
too much androgen, a male hormone. A newborn who has XX chromosomes coupled with
CAH usually has a (1) swollen clitoris with the urethral opening at the base, an ambiguous
genitalia often appearing more male than female; (2) normal internal structures of the
female reproductive tract such as the ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes; as the child grows
older, some features start to appear male, such as deepening of the voice, facial hair,
and failure to menstruate at puberty.About 1 in 10,000 to 18,000 children are born with CAH.
CAH is one of many conditions[21] that involve intersex anatomy. During the twentieth
century, medicine adopted the term intersexuality to apply to human beings who cannot be
classified as either male or female. [22] The term is now of widespread use. According
to Wikipedia, intersexuality is the state of a living thing of a gonochoristic species whose sex
chromosomes, genitalia, and/or secondary sex characteristics are determined to be neither
exclusively male nor female. An organism with intersex may have biological characteristics
of both male and female sexes.
Intersex individuals are treated in different ways by different cultures. In most
societies, intersex individuals have been expected to conform to either a male or female
gender role.[23] Since the rise of modern medical science in Western societies,
some intersex people with ambiguous external genitalia have had their genitalia surgically
modified
to
resemble
either
male
or
female
genitals. [24] More
commonly,

an intersex individual is considered as suffering from a disorder which is almost always


recommended to be treated, whether by surgery and/or by taking lifetime medication in
order to mold the individual as neatly as possible into the category of either male or female.
In deciding this case, we consider the compassionate calls for recognition of the
various degrees of intersex as variations which should not be subject to outright denial. It
has been suggested that there is some middle ground between the sexes, a no-mans land
for those individuals who are neither truly male nor truly female. [25]The current state of
Philippine statutes apparently compels that a person be classified either as a male or as a
female, but this Court is not controlled by mere appearances when nature itself
fundamentally negates such rigid classification.
In the instant case, if we determine respondent to be a female, then there is no basis
for a change in the birth certificate entry for gender. But if we determine, based on medical
testimony
and
scientific
development
showing the respondent to be other than female, then a change in the
subjects birth certificate entry is in order.
Biologically, nature endowed respondent with a mixed (neither consistently and
categorically female nor consistently and categorically male) composition.Respondent has
female (XX) chromosomes. However, respondents body system naturally produces high
levels of male hormones (androgen). As a result, respondent has ambiguous genitalia and
the phenotypic features of a male.
Ultimately, we are of the view that where the person is biologically or
naturally intersex the determining factor in his gender classification would be what the
individual, like respondent, having reached the age of majority, with good reason thinks of
his/her sex. Respondent here thinks of himself as a male and considering that his body
produces high levels of male hormones (androgen) there is preponderant biological support
for considering him as being male. Sexual development in cases of intersex persons makes
the gender classification at birth inconclusive. It is at maturity that the gender of such
persons, like respondent, is fixed.
Respondent here has simply let nature take its course and has not taken unnatural
steps to arrest or interfere with what he was born with. And accordingly, he has already
ordered his life to that of a male. Respondent could have undergone treatment and taken
steps, like taking lifelong medication, [26] to force his body into the categorical mold of a
female but he did not. He chose not to do so. Nature has instead taken its due course in
respondents development to reveal more fully his male characteristics.

In the absence of a law on the matter, the Court will not dictate on respondent
concerning a matter so innately private as ones sexuality and lifestyle preferences, much
less on whether or not to undergo medical treatment to reverse the male tendency due to
CAH. The Court will not consider respondent as having erred in not choosing to undergo
treatment in order to become or remain as a female. Neither will the Court force respondent
to undergo treatment and to take medication in order to fit the mold of a female, as society
commonly currently knows this gender of the human species. Respondent is the one who
has to live with his intersex anatomy.To him belongs the human right to the pursuit of
happiness and of health. Thus, to him should belong the primordial choice of what courses of
action to take along the path of his sexual development and maturation. In the absence of
evidence that respondent is an incompetent [27] and in the absence of evidence to show that
classifying respondent as a male will harm other members of society who are equally
entitled to protection under the law, the Court affirms as valid and justified the respondents
position and his personal judgment of being a male.
In so ruling we do no more than give respect to (1) the diversity of nature; and (2)
how an individual deals with what nature has handed out. In other words, we respect
respondents congenital condition and his mature decision to be a male. Life is already
difficult for the ordinary person. We cannot but respect how respondent deals with
his unordinary state and thus help make his life easier, considering the unique
circumstances in this case.
As for respondents change of name under Rule 103, this Court has held that a change
of name is not a matter of right but of judicial discretion, to be exercised in the light of the
reasons adduced and the consequences that will follow. [28] The trial courts grant of
respondents change of name from Jennifer to Jeff implies a change of a feminine name to a
masculine name. Considering the consequence that respondents change of name merely
recognizes his preferred gender, we find merit in respondents change of name. Such a
change will conform with the change of the entry in his birth certificate from female to male.
WHEREFORE, the Republics petition is DENIED. The Decision dated January 12,
2005 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 33 of Siniloan, Laguna, isAFFIRMED. No
pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
KINDS OF CAPACITY
PERSONAL LAW
Republic of the Philippines
Supreme Court
Manila

SECOND DIVISION
MEROPE ENRIQUEZ VDA. DE CATALAN,
Petitioner,

G. R. No. 183622
Present:
CARPIO, J., Chairperson,
BRION,
PEREZ,
SERENO, and
REYES, JJ.

- versus -

LOUELLA A. CATALAN-LEE,
Respondent.

Promulgated:
February 8, 2012

x--------------------------------------------------x
RESOLUTION
SERENO, J.:
Before us is a Petition for Review assailing the Court of Appeals (CA) Decision [1] and
Resolution[2] regarding the issuance of letters of administration of the intestate estate of
Orlando B. Catalan.
The facts are as follows:
Orlando B. Catalan was a naturalized American citizen. After allegedly obtaining a
divorce in the United States from his first wife, Felicitas Amor, he contracted a second
marriage with petitioner herein.
On 18 November 2004, Orlando died intestate in the Philippines.
Thereafter, on 28 February 2005, petitioner filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
Dagupan City a Petition for the issuance of letters of administration for her appointment as
administratrix of the intestate estate of Orlando. The case was docketed as Special
Proceedings (Spec. Proc.) No. 228.
On 3 March 2005, while Spec. Proc. No. 228 was pending, respondent Louella A.
Catalan-Lee, one of the children of Orlando from his first marriage, filed a similar petition
with the RTC docketed as Spec. Proc. No. 232.

The two cases were subsequently consolidated.


Petitioner prayed for the dismissal of Spec. Proc. No. 232 on the ground of litis
pendentia, considering that Spec. Proc. No. 228 covering the same estate was already
pending.
On the other hand, respondent alleged that petitioner was not considered an
interested person qualified to file a petition for the issuance of letters of administration of
the estate of Orlando. In support of her contention, respondent alleged that a criminal case
for bigamy was filed against petitioner before Branch 54 of the RTC of Alaminos, Pangasinan,
and docketed as Crim. Case No. 2699-A.
Apparently, Felicitas Amor filed a Complaint for bigamy, alleging that petitioner
contracted a second marriage to Orlando despite having been married to one Eusebio Bristol
on 12 December 1959.
On 6 August 1998, the RTC had acquitted petitioner of bigamy. [3] The trial court ruled
that since the deceased was a divorced American citizen, and since that divorce was not
recognized under Philippine jurisdiction, the marriage between him and petitioner was not
valid.
Furthermore, it took note of the action for declaration of nullity then pending action
with the trial court in Dagupan City filed by Felicitas Amor against the deceased and
petitioner. It considered the pending action to be a prejudicial question in determining the
guilt of petitioner for the crime of bigamy.
Finally, the trial court found that, in the first place, petitioner had never been married
to Eusebio Bristol.
On 26 June 2006, Branch 70 of the RTC of Burgos, Pangasinan dismissed the Petition
for the issuance of letters of administration filed by petitioner and granted that of private
respondent. Contrary to its findings in Crim. Case No. 2699-A, the RTC held that the marriage
between petitioner and Eusebio Bristol was valid and subsisting when she married Orlando.
Without expounding, it reasoned further that her acquittal in the previous bigamy case was
fatal to her cause. Thus, the trial court held that petitioner was not an interested party who
may file a petition for the issuance of letters of administration. [4]
After the subsequent denial of her Motion for Reconsideration, petitioner elevated the
matter to the Court of Appeals (CA) via her Petition for Certiorari, alleging grave abuse of
discretion on the part of the RTC in dismissing her Petition for the issuance of letters of
administration.

Petitioner reiterated before the CA that the Petition filed by respondent should have
been dismissed on the ground of litis pendentia. She also insisted that, while a petition for
letters of administration may have been filed by an uninterested person, the defect was
cured by the appearance of a real party-in-interest. Thus, she insisted that, to determine
who has a better right to administer the decedents properties, the RTC should have first
required the parties to present their evidence before it ruled on the matter.
On 18 October 2007, the CA promulgated the assailed Decision. First, it held that
petitioner undertook the wrong remedy. She should have instead filed a petition for review
rather than a petition for certiorari. Nevertheless, since the Petition for Certiorari was filed
within the fifteen-day reglementary period for filing a petition for review under Sec. 4 of Rule
43, the CA allowed the Petition and continued to decide on the merits of the case. Thus, it
ruled in this wise:
As to the issue of litis pendentia, we find it not applicable in the case.
For litis pendentia to be a ground for the dismissal of an action, there must be:
(a) identity of the parties or at least such as to represent the same interest in
both actions; (b) identity of rights asserted and relief prayed for, the relief
being founded on the same acts, and (c) the identity in the two cases should
be such that the judgment which may be rendered in one would, regardless of
which party is successful, amount to res judicata in the other. A petition for
letters of administration is a special proceeding. A special proceeding is an
application or proceeding to establish the status or right of a party, or a
particular fact. And, in contrast to an ordinary civil action, a special
proceeding involves no defendant or respondent. The only party in this kind of
proceeding is the petitioner of the applicant. Considering its nature, a
subsequent petition for letters of administration can hardly be barred by a
similar pending petition involving the estate of the same decedent unless both
petitions are filed by the same person. In the case at bar, the petitioner was
not a party to the petition filed by the private respondent, in the same manner
that the latter was not made a party to the petition filed by the former. The
first element of litis pendentia is wanting. The contention of the petitioner
must perforce fail.
Moreover, to yield to the contention of the petitioner would render
nugatory the provision of the Rules requiring a petitioner for letters of
administration to be an interested party, inasmuch as any person, for that
matter, regardless of whether he has valid interest in the estate sought to be
administered, could be appointed as administrator for as long as he files his
petition ahead of any other person, in derogation of the rights of those
specifically mentioned in the order of preference in the appointment of
administrator under Rule 78, Section 6 of the Revised Rules of Court, which
provides:
xxx xxx xxx
The petitioner, armed with a marriage certificate, filed her petition for
letters of administration. As a spouse, the petitioner would have been
preferred to administer the estate of Orlando B. Catalan. However, a marriage
certificate, like any other public document, is only prima facie evidence of the
facts stated therein. The fact that the petitioner had been charged with

bigamy and was acquitted has not been disputed by the


petitioner. Bigamy is an illegal marriage committed by contracting a second
or subsequent marriage before the first marriage has been dissolved or before
the absent spouse has been declared presumptively dead by a judgment
rendered in a proper proceedings. The deduction of the trial court that
the acquittal of the petitioner in the said case negates the validity of
her subsequent marriage with Orlando B. Catalan has not been
disproved by her. There was not even an attempt from the petitioner
to deny the findings of the trial court. There is therefore no basis for us to
make a contrary finding. Thus, not being an interested party and a stranger to
the estate of Orlando B. Catalan, the dismissal of her petition for letters of
administration by the trial court is in place.
xxx xxx xxx
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DISMISSED for
lack of merit. No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.[5] (Emphasis supplied)

Petitioner moved for a reconsideration of this Decision. [6] She alleged that the reasoning of
the CA was illogical in stating, on the one hand, that she was acquitted of bigamy, while, on
the other hand, still holding that her marriage with Orlando was invalid. She insists that with
her acquittal of the crime of bigamy, the marriage enjoys the presumption of validity.
On 20 June 2008, the CA denied her motion.
Hence, this Petition.
At the outset, it seems that the RTC in the special proceedings failed to appreciate
the finding of the RTC in Crim. Case No. 2699-A that petitioner was never married to Eusebio
Bristol. Thus, the trial court concluded that, because petitioner was acquitted of bigamy, it
follows that the first marriage with Bristol still existed and was valid. By failing to take note
of the findings of fact on the nonexistence of the marriage between petitioner and Bristol,
both the RTC and CA held that petitioner was not an interested party in the estate of
Orlando.
Second, it is imperative to note that at the time the bigamy case in Crim. Case No.
2699-A was dismissed, we had already ruled that under the principles of comity, our
jurisdiction recognizes a valid divorce obtained by a spouse of foreign nationality. This
doctrine was established as early as 1985 in Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr.[7] wherein we said:
It is true that owing to the nationality principle embodied in Article 15
of the Civil Code, only Philippine nationals are covered by the policy against
absolute divorces[,] the same being considered contrary to our concept of
public policy and morality. However, aliens may obtain divorces abroad,
which may be recognized in the Philippines, provided they are valid
according to their national law. In this case, the divorce in Nevada

released private respondent from the marriage from the standards of


American law, under which divorce dissolves the marriage. xxx

We reiterated this principle in Llorente v. Court of Appeals,[8] to wit:


In Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr. we held that owing to the nationality
principle embodied in Article 15 of the Civil Code, only Philippine nationals are
covered by the policy against absolute divorces, the same being considered
contrary to our concept of public policy and morality. In the same case, the
Court ruled that aliens may obtain divorces abroad, provided they
are valid according to their national law.
Citing this landmark case, the Court held in Quita v. Court of
Appeals, that once proven that respondent was no longer a Filipino
citizen when he obtained the divorce from petitioner, the ruling
in Van Dorn would become applicable and petitioner could very well
lose her right to inherit from him.
In Pilapil v. Ibay-Somera, we recognized the divorce obtained by the
respondent in his country, the Federal Republic of Germany. There, we
stated that divorce and its legal effects may be recognized in the
Philippines insofar as respondent is concerned in view of the
nationality principle in our civil law on the status of persons.
For failing to apply these doctrines, the decision of the Court of Appeals
must be reversed. We hold that the divorce obtained by Lorenzo H.
Llorente from his first wife Paula was valid and recognized in this
jurisdiction as a matter of comity. xxx

Nonetheless, the fact of divorce must still first be proven as we have enunciated
in Garcia v. Recio,[9] to wit:
Respondent is getting ahead of himself. Before a foreign judgment is
given presumptive evidentiary value, the document must first be presented
and admitted in evidence. A divorce obtained abroad is proven by the divorce
decree itself. Indeed the best evidence of a judgment is the judgment
itself. The decree purports to be a written act or record of an act of an official
body or tribunal of a foreign country.
Under Sections 24 and 25 of Rule 132, on the other hand, a writing or
document may be proven as a public or official record of a foreign country by
either (1) an official publication or (2) a copy thereof attested by the officer
having legal custody of the document. If the record is not kept in the
Philippines, such copy must be (a) accompanied by a certificate issued by the
proper diplomatic or consular officer in the Philippine foreign service stationed
in the foreign country in which the record is kept and (b) authenticated by the
seal of his office.
The divorce decree between respondent and Editha Samson appears to
be an authentic one issued by an Australian family court. However,
appearance is not sufficient; compliance with the aforementioned rules
on evidence must be demonstrated.

Fortunately for respondent's cause, when the divorce decree of May


18, 1989 was submitted in evidence, counsel for petitioner objected, not to its
admissibility, but only to the fact that it had not been registered in the Local
Civil Registry of Cabanatuan City. The trial court ruled that it was admissible,
subject to petitioner's qualification. Hence, it was admitted in evidence and
accorded weight by the judge. Indeed, petitioner's failure to object properly
rendered the divorce decree admissible as a written act of the Family Court of
Sydney, Australia.
Compliance with the quoted articles (11, 13 and 52) of the Family Code
is not necessary; respondent was no longer bound by Philippine personal laws
after he acquired Australian citizenship in 1992. Naturalization is the legal act
of adopting an alien and clothing him with the political and civil rights
belonging to a citizen. Naturalized citizens, freed from the protective cloak of
their former states, don the attires of their adoptive countries. By becoming
an Australian, respondent severed his allegiance to the Philippines and
the vinculum juris that had tied him to Philippine personal laws.
Burden of Proving Australian Law
Respondent contends that the burden to prove Australian divorce law
falls upon petitioner, because she is the party challenging the validity of a
foreign judgment. He contends that petitioner was satisfied with the original of
the divorce decree and was cognizant of the marital laws of Australia, because
she had lived and worked in that country for quite a long time. Besides, the
Australian divorce law is allegedly known by Philippine courts; thus, judges
may take judicial notice of foreign laws in the exercise of sound discretion.
We are not persuaded. The burden of proof lies with the party
who alleges the existence of a fact or thing necessary in the
prosecution or defense of an action. In civil cases, plaintiffs have the
burden of proving the material allegations of the complaint when
those are denied by the answer; and defendants have the burden of
proving the material allegations in their answer when they introduce
new matters. Since the divorce was a defense raised by respondent,
the burden of proving the pertinent Australian law validating it falls
squarely upon him.
It is well-settled in our jurisdiction that our courts cannot take
judicial notice of foreign laws. Like any other facts, they must be
alleged and proved. Australian marital laws are not among those
matters that judges are supposed to know by reason of their judicial
function. The power of judicial notice must be exercised with caution,
and every reasonable doubt upon the subject should be resolved in
the negative. (Emphasis supplied)

It appears that the trial court no longer required petitioner to prove the validity of
Orlandos divorce under the laws of the United States and the marriage between petitioner
and the deceased. Thus, there is a need to remand the proceedings to the trial court for
further reception of evidence to establish the fact of divorce.
Should petitioner prove the validity of the divorce and the subsequent marriage, she
has the preferential right to be issued the letters of administration over the estate.
Otherwise, letters of administration may be issued to respondent, who is undisputedly the

daughter or next of kin of the deceased, in accordance with Sec. 6 of Rule 78 of the Revised
Rules of Court.
This is consistent with our ruling in San Luis v. San Luis,[10] in which we said:
Applying the above doctrine in the instant case, the divorce decree
allegedly obtained by Merry Lee which absolutely allowed Felicisimo to
remarry, would have vested Felicidad with the legal personality to file the
present petition as Felicisimo's surviving spouse. However, the records
show that there is insufficient evidence to prove the validity of the
divorce obtained by Merry Lee as well as the marriage of respondent
and Felicisimo under the laws of the U.S.A. In Garcia v. Recio, the Court
laid down the specific guidelines for pleading and proving foreign law and
divorce judgments. It held that presentation solely of the divorce decree is
insufficient and that proof of its authenticity and due execution must be
presented. Under Sections 24 and 25 of Rule 132, a writing or document may
be proven as a public or official record of a foreign country by either (1) an
official publication or (2) a copy thereof attested by the officer having legal
custody of the document. If the record is not kept in the Philippines, such copy
must be (a) accompanied by a certificate issued by the proper diplomatic or
consular officer in the Philippine foreign service stationed in the foreign
country in which the record is kept and (b) authenticated by the seal of his
office.
With regard to respondent's marriage to Felicisimo allegedly
solemnized in California, U.S.A., she submitted photocopies of the Marriage
Certificate and the annotated text of the Family Law Act of California which
purportedly show that their marriage was done in accordance with the said
law. As stated in Garcia, however, the Court cannot take judicial notice of
foreign laws as they must be alleged and proved.
Therefore, this case should be remanded to the trial court for
further reception of evidence on the divorce decree obtained by
Merry Lee and the marriage of respondent and Felicisimo. (Emphasis
supplied)

Thus, it is imperative for the trial court to first determine the validity of the divorce to
ascertain the rightful party to be issued the letters of administration over the estate of
Orlando B. Catalan.
WHEREFORE, premises

considered,

the

Petition

is

hereby PARTIALLY

GRANTED. The Decision dated 18 October 2007 and the Resolution dated 20 June 2008 of
the

Court

of

Appeals

are

hereby REVERSED and SET

ASIDE.

Let

this

case

be REMANDED to Branch 70 of the Regional Trial Court of Burgos, Pangasinan for further
proceedings in accordance with this Decision.
SO ORDERED.

NATIONALITY AND CITIZENSHIP


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 198742

August 10, 2012

TEODORA SOBEJANA-CONDON, Petitioner,


vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, LUIS M. BAUTISTA, ROBELITO V. PICAR and WILMA P.
PAGADUAN,Respondents.
SERENO,*
PERLAS-BERNABE, JJ

DECISION
REYES, J.:
Failure to renounce foreign citizenship in accordance with the exact tenor of Section 5(2) of
Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9225 renders a dual citizen ineligible to run for and thus hold any
elective public office.
The Case
At bar is a special civil action for certiorari1 under Rule 64 of the Rules of Court seeking to
nullify Resolution2dated September 6, 2011 of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) en
banc in EAC (AE) No. A-44-2010. The assailed resolution (a) reversed the Order 3 dated
November 30, 2010 of COMELEC Second Division dismissing petitioners appeal; and (b)
affirmed the consolidated Decision4 dated October 22, 2010 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC),
Bauang, La Union, Branch 33, declaring petitioner Teodora Sobejana-Condon (petitioner)
disqualified and ineligible to her position as Vice-Mayor of Caba, La Union.
The Undisputed Facts
The petitioner is a natural-born Filipino citizen having been born of Filipino parents on August
8, 1944. On December 13, 1984, she became a naturalized Australian citizen owing to her
marriage to a certain Kevin Thomas Condon.
On December 2, 2005, she filed an application to re-acquire Philippine citizenship before the
Philippine Embassy in Canberra, Australia pursuant to Section 3 of R.A. No. 9225 otherwise
known as the "Citizenship Retention and Re-Acquisition Act of 2003." 5 The application was
approved and the petitioner took her oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines on
December 5, 2005.

On September 18, 2006, the petitioner filed an unsworn Declaration of Renunciation of


Australian Citizenship before the Department of Immigration and Indigenous Affairs,
Canberra, Australia, which in turn issued the Order dated September 27, 2006 certifying that
she has ceased to be an Australian citizen.6
The petitioner ran for Mayor in her hometown of Caba, La Union in the 2007 elections. She
lost in her bid. She again sought elective office during the May 10, 2010 elections this time
for the position of Vice-Mayor. She obtained the highest numbers of votes and was
proclaimed as the winning candidate. She took her oath of office on May 13, 2010.
Soon thereafter, private respondents Robelito V. Picar, Wilma P. Pagaduan 7 and Luis M.
Bautista,8 (private respondents) all registered voters of Caba, La Union, filed separate
petitions for quo warranto questioning the petitioners eligibility before the RTC. The
petitions similarly sought the petitioners disqualification from holding her elective post on
the ground that she is a dual citizen and that she failed to execute a "personal and sworn
renunciation of any and all foreign citizenship before any public officer authorized to
administer an oath" as imposed by Section 5(2) of R.A. No. 9225.
The petitioner denied being a dual citizen and averred that since September 27, 2006, she
ceased to be an Australian citizen. She claimed that the Declaration of Renunciation of
Australian Citizenship she executed in Australia sufficiently complied with Section 5(2), R.A.
No. 9225 and that her act of running for public office is a clear abandonment of her
Australian citizenship.
Ruling of the RTC
In its consolidated Decision dated October 22, 2010, the trial court held that the petitioners
failure to comply with Section 5(2) of R.A. No. 9225 rendered her ineligible to run and hold
public office. As admitted by the petitioner herself during trial, the personal declaration of
renunciation she filed in Australia was not under oath. The law clearly mandates that the
document containing the renunciation of foreign citizenship must be sworn before any public
officer authorized to administer oath. Consequently, the RTCs decision disposed as follows:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court renders judgment in FAVOR of [private
respondents] and AGAINST (petitioner):
1) DECLARING [petitioner] TEODORA SOBEJANA-CONDON, disqualified and ineligible to hold
the office of Vice-Mayor of Caba, La Union;
2) NULLIFYING her proclamation as the winning candidate for Vice-Mayor of said
municipality; and
3) DECLARING the position of Vice-Mayor in said municipality vacant.
SO ORDERED.9
Ruling of the COMELEC

The petitioner appealed to the COMELEC but the appeal was dismissed by the Second
Division in its Order10dated November 30, 2010 for failure to pay the docket fees within the
prescribed period. On motion for reconsideration, the appeal was reinstated by the COMELEC
en banc in its Resolution11 dated September 6, 2011. In the same issuance, the substantive
merits of the appeal were given due course. The COMELEC en banc concurred with the
findings and conclusions of the RTC; it also granted the Motion for Execution Pending Appeal
filed by the private respondents.
The decretal portion of the resolution reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered the Commission RESOLVED as it hereby RESOLVES as
follows:
1. To DISMISS the instant appeal for lack of merit;
2. To AFFIRM the DECISION dated 22 October 2010 of the court a quo; and
3. To GRANT the Motion for Execution filed on November 12, 2010.
SO ORDERED.12 (Emphasis supplied)
Hence, the present petition ascribing grave abuse of discretion to the COMELEC en banc.
The Petitioners Arguments
The petitioner contends that since she ceased to be an Australian citizen on September 27,
2006, she no longer held dual citizenship and was only a Filipino citizen when she filed her
certificate of candidacy as early as the 2007 elections. Hence, the "personal and sworn
renunciation of foreign citizenship" imposed by Section 5(2) of R.A. No. 9225 to dual citizens
seeking elective office does not apply to her.
She further argues that a sworn renunciation is a mere formal and not a mandatory
requirement. In support thereof, she cites portions of the Journal of the House of
Representatives dated June 2 to 5, 2003 containing the sponsorship speech for House Bill
(H.B.) No. 4720, the precursor of R.A. No. 9225.
She claims that the private respondents are estopped from questioning her eligibility since
they failed to do so when she filed certificates of candidacy for the 2007 and 2010 elections.
Lastly, she disputes the power of the COMELEC en banc to: (a) take cognizance of the
substantive merits of her appeal instead of remanding the same to the COMELEC Second
Division for the continuation of the appeal proceedings; and (b) allow the execution pending
appeal of the RTCs judgment.
The Issues

Posed for resolution are the following issues: I) Whether the COMELEC en banc may resolve
the merits of an appeal after ruling on its reinstatement; II) Whether the COMELEC en banc
may order the execution of a judgment rendered by a trial court in an election case; III)
Whether the private respondents are barred from questioning the qualifications of the
petitioner; and IV) For purposes of determining the petitioners eligibility to run for public
office, whether the "sworn renunciation of foreign citizenship" in Section 5(2) of R.A. No.
9225 is a mere pro-forma requirement.
The Courts Ruling
I. An appeal may be simultaneously
reinstated and definitively resolved
by the COMELEC en banc in a
resolution disposing of a motion for
reconsideration.
The power to decide motions for reconsideration in election cases is arrogated unto the
COMELEC en banc by Section 3, Article IX-C of the Constitution, viz:
Sec. 3. The Commission on Elections may sit en banc or in two divisions, and shall
promulgate its rules of procedure in order to expedite disposition of election cases, including
pre-proclamation controversies. All such election cases shall be heard and decided in
division, provided that motions for reconsideration of decisions shall be decided by the
Commission en banc.
A complementary provision is present in Section 5(c), Rule 3 of the COMELEC Rules of
Procedure, to wit:
Any motion to reconsider a decision, resolution, order or ruling of a Division shall be resolved
by the Commission en banc except motions on interlocutory orders of the division which
shall be resolved by the division which issued the order.
Considering that the above cited provisos do not set any limits to the COMELEC en bancs
prerogative in resolving a motion for reconsideration, there is nothing to prevent the body
from directly adjudicating the substantive merits of an appeal after ruling for its
reinstatement instead of remanding the same to the division that initially dismissed it.
We thus see no impropriety much more grave abuse of discretion on the part of the
COMELEC en banc when it proceeded to decide the substantive merits of the petitioners
appeal after ruling for its reinstatement.
Further, records show that, in her motion for reconsideration before the COMELEC en banc,
the petitioner not only proffered arguments on the issue on docket fees but also on the issue
of her eligibility. She even filed a supplemental motion for reconsideration attaching
therewith supporting documents13 to her contention that she is no longer an Australian
citizen. The petitioner, after obtaining an unfavorable decision, cannot be permitted to
disavow the en bancs exercise of discretion on the substantial merits of her appeal when
she herself invoked the same in the first place.

The fact that the COMELEC en banc had remanded similar appeals to the Division that
initially dismissed them cannot serve as a precedent to the disposition of the petitioners
appeal. A decision or resolution of any adjudicating body can be disposed in several ways. To
sustain petitioners argument would be virtually putting a straightjacket on the COMELEC en
bancs adjudicatory powers.
More significantly, the remand of the appeal to the COMELEC Second Division would be
unnecessarily circuitous and repugnant to the rule on preferential disposition of quo
warranto cases espoused in Rule 36, Section 15 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure. 14
II. The COMELEC en banc has the
power to order discretionary
execution of judgment.
We cannot subscribe to petitioners submission that the COMELEC en banc has no power to
order the issuance of a writ of execution and that such function belongs only to the court of
origin.
There is no reason to dispute the COMELECs authority to order discretionary execution of
judgment in view of the fact that the suppletory application of the Rules of Court is expressly
sanctioned by Section 1, Rule 41 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure. 15
Under Section 2, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court, execution pending appeal may be issued by
an appellate court after the trial court has lost jurisdiction. In Batul v. Bayron, 16 we stressed
the import of the provision vis--vis election cases when we held that judgments in election
cases which may be executed pending appeal includes those decided by trial courts and
those rendered by the COMELEC whether in the exercise of its original or appellate
jurisdiction.
III. Private respondents are not
estopped from questioning
petitioners eligibility to hold public
office.
The fact that the petitioners qualifications were not questioned when she filed certificates of
candidacy for 2007 and 2010 elections cannot operate as an estoppel to the petition for quo
warranto before the RTC.
Under the Batas Pambansa Bilang 881 (Omnibus Election Code), there are two instances
where a petition questioning the qualifications of a registered candidate to run for the office
for which his certificate of candidacy was filed can be raised, to wit:
(1) Before election, pursuant to Section 78 thereof which provides that:
Sec. 78. Petition to deny due course or to cancel a certificate of candidacy. A verified
petition seeking to deny due course or to cancel a certificate of candidacy may be filed by
any person exclusively on the ground that any material representation contained therein as
required under Section 74 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; and
(2) After election, pursuant to Section 253 thereof, viz:
Sec. 253. Petition for quo warranto. Any voter contesting the election of any Member of the
Batasang Pambansa, regional, provincial, or city officer on the ground of ineligibility or of
disloyalty to the Republic of the Philippines shall file a sworn petition for quo warranto with
the Commission within ten days after the proclamation of the results of the election.
(Emphasis ours)
Hence, if a person qualified to file a petition to disqualify a certain candidate fails to file the
petition within the twenty-five (25)-day period prescribed by Section 78 of the Omnibus
Election Code for whatever reasons, the elections laws do not leave him completely helpless
as he has another chance to raise the disqualification of the candidate by filing a petition for
quo warranto within ten (10) days from the proclamation of the results of the election, as
provided under Section 253 of the Omnibus Election Code. 17
The above remedies were both available to the private respondents and their failure to
utilize Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code cannot serve to bar them should they opt to
file, as they did so file, a quo warranto petition under Section 253.
IV. Petitioner is disqualified from
running for elective office for
failure to renounce her Australian
citizenship in accordance with
Section 5(2) of R.A. No. 9225.
R.A. No. 9225 allows the retention and re-acquisition of Filipino citizenship for natural-born
citizens who have lost their Philippine citizenship 18 by taking an oath of allegiance to the
Republic, thus:
Section 3. Retention of Philippine Citizenship. Any provision of law to the contrary
notwithstanding, natural-born citizens of the Philippines who have lost their Philippine
citizenship by reason of their naturalization as citizens of a foreign country are hereby
deemed to have re-acquired Philippine citizenship upon taking the following oath of
allegiance to the Republic:
"I, _____________________, solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the
Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines and obey the laws and legal orders
promulgated by the duly constituted authorities of the Philippines; and I hereby
declare that I recognize and accept the supreme authority of the Philippines and will
maintain true faith and allegiance thereto; and that I imposed this obligation upon
myself voluntarily without mental reservation or purpose of evasion."
Natural-born citizens of the Philippines who, after the effectivity of this Act, become citizens
of a foreign country shall retain their Philippine citizenship upon taking the aforesaid oath.

The oath is an abbreviated repatriation process that restores ones Filipino citizenship and all
civil and political rights and obligations concomitant therewith, subject to certain conditions
imposed in Section 5, viz:
Sec. 5. Civil and Political Rights and Liabilities. Those who retain or re-acquire Philippine
citizenship under this Act shall enjoy full civil and political rights and be subject to all
attendant liabilities and responsibilities under existing laws of the Philippines and the
following conditions:
(1) Those intending to exercise their right of suffrage must meet the requirements under
Section 1, Article V of the Constitution, Republic Act No. 9189, otherwise known as "The
Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003" and other existing laws;
(2) Those seeking elective public office in the Philippines shall meet the qualification for
holding such public office as required by the Constitution and existing laws and, at the time
of the filing of the certificate of candidacy, make a personal and sworn renunciation of any
and all foreign citizenship before any public officer authorized to administer an oath;
(3) Those appointed to any public office shall subscribe and swear to an oath of allegiance to
the Republic of the Philippines and its duly constituted authorities prior to their assumption
of office: Provided, That they renounce their oath of allegiance to the country where they
took that oath;
(4) Those intending to practice their profession in the Philippines shall apply with the proper
authority for a license or permit to engage in such practice; and
(5) That right to vote or be elected or appointed to any public office in the Philippines cannot
be exercised by, or extended to, those who:
(a) are candidates for or are occupying any public office in the country of which they are
naturalized citizens; and/or
(b) are in active service as commissioned or non-commissioned officers in the armed forces
of the country which they are naturalized citizens. (Emphasis ours)
Under the provisions of the aforementioned law, the petitioner has validly re-acquired her
Filipino citizenship when she took an Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines on
December 5, 2005. At that point, she held dual citizenship, i.e., Australian and Philippine.
On September 18, 2006, or a year before she initially sought elective public office, she filed
a renunciation of Australian citizenship in Canberra, Australia. Admittedly, however, the
same was not under oath contrary to the exact mandate of Section 5(2) that the
renunciation of foreign citizenship must be sworn before an officer authorized to administer
oath.
To obviate the fatal consequence of her inutile renunciation, the petitioner pleads the Court
to interpret the "sworn renunciation of any and all foreign citizenship" in Section 5(2) to be a
mere pro forma requirement in conformity with the intent of the Legislature. She anchors her

submission on the statement made by Representative Javier during the floor deliberations on
H.B. No. 4720, the precursor of R.A. No. 9225.
At the outset, it bears stressing that the Courts duty to interpret the law according to its
true intent is exercised only when the law is ambiguous or of doubtful meaning. The first and
fundamental duty of the Court is to apply the law. As such, when the law is clear and free
from any doubt, there is no occasion for construction or interpretation; there is only room for
application.19 Section 5(2) of R.A. No. 9225 is one such instance.
Ambiguity is a condition of admitting two or more meanings, of being understood in more
than one way, or of referring to two or more things at the same time. For a statute to be
considered ambiguous, it must admit of two or more possible meanings. 20
The language of Section 5(2) is free from any ambiguity. In Lopez v. COMELEC, 21 we declared
its categorical and single meaning: a Filipino American or any dual citizen cannot run for any
elective public position in the Philippines unless he or she personally swears to a
renunciation of all foreign citizenship at the time of filing the certificate of candidacy. We
also expounded on the form of the renunciation and held that to be valid, the renunciation
must be contained in an affidavit duly executed before an officer of the law who is
authorized to administer an oath stating in clear and unequivocal terms that affiant is
renouncing all foreign citizenship.
The same meaning was emphasized in Jacot v. Dal,22 when we held that Filipinos re-acquiring
or retaining their Philippine citizenship under R.A. No. 9225 must explicitly renounce their
foreign citizenship if they wish to run for elective posts in the Philippines, thus:
The law categorically requires persons seeking elective public office, who either retained
their Philippine citizenship or those who reacquired it, to make a personal and sworn
renunciation of any and all foreign citizenship before a public officer authorized to administer
an oath simultaneous with or before the filing of the certificate of candidacy.
Hence, Section 5(2) of Republic Act No. 9225 compels natural-born Filipinos, who have been
naturalized as citizens of a foreign country, but who reacquired or retained their Philippine
citizenship (1) to take the oath of allegiance under Section 3 of Republic Act No. 9225, and
(2) for those seeking elective public offices in the Philippines, to additionally execute a
personal and sworn renunciation of any and all foreign citizenship before an authorized
public officer prior or simultaneous to the filing of their certificates of candidacy, to qualify
as candidates in Philippine elections.
Clearly Section 5(2) of Republic Act No. 9225 (on the making of a personal and sworn
renunciation of any and all foreign citizenship) requires of the Filipinos availing themselves
of the benefits under the said Act to accomplish an undertaking other than that which they
have presumably complied with under Section 3 thereof (oath of allegiance to the Republic
of the Philippines). This is made clear in the discussion of the Bicameral Conference
Committee on Disagreeing Provisions of House Bill No. 4720 and Senate Bill No. 2130 held
on 18 August 2003 (precursors of Republic Act No. 9225), where the Hon. Chairman Franklin
Drilon and Hon. Representative Arthur Defensor explained to Hon. Representative Exequiel
Javier that the oath of allegiance is different from the renunciation of foreign citizenship;

xxxx
The intent of the legislators was not only for Filipinos reacquiring or retaining their Philippine
citizenship under Republic Act No. 9225 to take their oath of allegiance to the Republic of
the Philippines, but also to explicitly renounce their foreign citizenship if they wish to run for
elective posts in the Philippines. To qualify as a candidate in Philippine elections, Filipinos
must only have one citizenship, namely, Philippine citizenship. 23 (Citation omitted and italics
and underlining ours)
Hence, in De Guzman v. COMELEC,24 we declared petitioner therein to be disqualified from
running for the position of vice-mayor for his failure to make a personal and sworn
renunciation of his American citizenship.
We find no reason to depart from the mandatory nature infused by the above rulings to the
phrase "sworn renunciation". The language of the provision is plain and unambiguous. It
expresses a single, definite, and sensible meaning and must thus be read literally. 25 The
foreign citizenship must be formally rejected through an affidavit duly sworn before an
officer authorized to administer oath.
It is conclusively presumed to be the meaning that the Legislature has intended to
convey.26 Even a resort to the Journal of the House of Representatives invoked by the
petitioner leads to the same inference, viz:
INTERPELLATION OF REP. JAVIER
Rep. Javier initially inquired whether under the Bill, dual citizenship is only limited to naturalborn Filipinos and not to naturalized Filipinos.
Rep. Libanan replied in the affirmative.
Rep. Javier subsequently adverted to Section 5 of the Bill which provides that natural-born
Filipinos who have dual citizenship shall continue to enjoy full civil and political rights. This
being the case, he sought clarification as to whether they can indeed run for public office
provided that they renounce their foreign citizenship.
Rep. Libanan replied in the affirmative, citing that these citizens will only have to make a
personal and sworn renunciation of foreign citizenship before any authorized public officer.
Rep. Javier sought further clarification on this matter, citing that while the Bill provides them
with full civil and political rights as Filipino citizens, the measure also discriminates against
them since they are required to make a sworn renunciation of their other foreign citizenship
if and when they run for public office. He thereafter proposed to delete this particular
provision.
In his rejoinder, Rep. Libanan explained that this serves to erase all doubts
regarding any issues that might be raised pertaining to the citizenship of any
candidate. He subsequently cited the case of Afroyim vs. Rusk, wherein the

United States considered a naturalized American still as an American citizen even


when he cast his vote in Israel during one of its elections.
Rep. Javier however pointed out that the matter of voting is different because in voting, one
is not required to renounce his foreign citizenship. He pointed out that under the Bill,
Filipinos who run for public office must renounce their foreign citizenship. He pointed out
further that this is a contradiction in the Bill.
Thereafter, Rep. Javier inquired whether Filipino citizens who had acquired foreign citizenship
and are now entitled to reacquire their Filipino citizenship will be considered as natural-born
citizens. As such, he likewise inquired whether they will also be considered qualified to run
for the highest elective positions in the country.
Rep. Libanan replied in the affirmative, citing that the only requirement is that they make a
sworn renunciation of their foreign citizenship and that they comply with the residency and
registration requirements as provided for in the Constitution.
Whereupon, Rep. Javier noted that under the Constitution, natural-born citizens are those
who are citizens at the time of birth without having to perform an act to complete or perfect
his/her citizenship.
Rep. Libanan agreed therewith, citing that this is the reason why the Bill seeks the repeal of
CA No. 63. The repeal, he said, would help Filipino citizens who acquired foreign citizenship
to retain their citizenship. With regard then to Section 5 of the Bill, he explained that the
Committee had decided to include this provision because Section 18, Article XI of the
Constitution provides for the accountability of public officers.
In his rejoinder, Rep. Javier maintained that in this case, the sworn renunciation of a foreign
citizenship will only become a pro forma requirement.
On further queries of Rep. Javier, Rep. Libanan affirmed that natural-born Filipino citizens
who became foreign citizens and who have reacquired their Filipino citizenship under the Bill
will be considered as natural-born citizens, and therefore qualified to run for the presidency,
the vice-presidency or for a seat in Congress. He also agreed with the observation of Rep.
Javier that a natural-born citizen is one who is a citizen of the country at the time of birth. He
also explained that the Bill will, in effect, return to a Filipino citizen who has acquired foreign
citizenship, the status of being a natural-born citizen effective at the time he lost his Filipino
citizenship.
As a rejoinder, Rep. Javier opined that doing so would be discriminating against naturalized
Filipino citizens and Filipino citizens by election who are all disqualified to run for certain
public offices. He then suggested that the Bill be amended by not considering as naturalborn citizens those Filipinos who had renounced their Filipino citizenship and acquired
foreign citizenship. He said that they should be considered as repatriated citizens.
In reply, Rep. Libanan assured Rep. Javier that the Committee will take note of the latters
comments on the matter. He however stressed that after a lengthy deliberation on the
subject, the Committees on Justice, and Foreign Affairs had decided to revert back to the

status of being natural-born citizens those natural-born Filipino citizens who had acquired
foreign citizenship but now wished to reacquire their Filipino citizenship.
Rep. Javier then explained that a Filipina who loses her Filipino citizenship by virtue of her
marriage to a foreigner can regain her repatriated Filipino citizenship, upon the death of her
husband, by simply taking her oath before the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Rep. Javier said that he does not oppose the Bill but only wants to be fair to other Filipino
citizens who are not considered natural-born. He reiterated that natural-born Filipino citizens
who had renounced their citizenship by pledging allegiance to another sovereignty should
not be allowed to revert back to their status of being natural-born citizens once they decide
to regain their Filipino citizenship. He underscored that this will in a way allow such Filipinos
to enjoy dual citizenship.
On whether the Sponsors will agree to an amendment incorporating the position of Rep.
Javier, Rep. Libanan stated that this will defeat the purpose of the Bill.
Rep. Javier disagreed therewith, adding that natural-born Filipino citizens who acquired
foreign citizenships and later decided to regain their Filipino citizenship, will be considered
as repatriated citizens.
Rep. Libanan cited the case of Bengzon vs. HRET wherein the Supreme Court had ruled that
only naturalized Filipino citizens are not considered as natural-born citizens.
In reaction, Rep. Javier clarified that only citizens by election or those whose mothers are
Filipino citizens under the 1935 Constitution and who elected Filipino citizenship upon
reaching the age of maturity, are not deemed as natural-born citizens.
In response, Rep. Libanan maintained that in the Bengzon case, repatriation results in the
recovery of ones original nationality and only naturalized citizens are not considered as
natural-born citizens.
On whether the Sponsors would agree to not giving back the status of being natural-born
citizens to natural-born Filipino citizens who acquired foreign citizenship, Rep. Libanan
remarked that the Body in plenary session will decide on the matter. 27
The petitioner obviously espouses an isolated reading of Representative Javiers statement;
she conveniently disregards the preceding and succeeding discussions in the records.
The above-quoted excerpts of the legislative record show that Representative Javiers
statement ought to be understood within the context of the issue then being discussed, that
is whether former natural-born citizens who re-acquire their Filipino citizenship under the
proposed law will revert to their original status as natural-born citizens and thus be qualified
to run for government positions reserved only to natural-born Filipinos, i.e. President, VicePresident and Members of the Congress.
It was Representative Javiers position that they should be considered as repatriated Filipinos
and not as natural-born citizens since they will have to execute a personal and sworn

renunciation of foreign citizenship. Natural-born citizens are those who need not perform an
act to perfect their citizenship. Representative Libanan, however, maintained that they will
revert to their original status as natural-born citizens. To reconcile the renunciation imposed
by Section 5(2) with the principle that natural-born citizens are those who need not perform
any act to perfect their citizenship, Representative Javier suggested that the sworn
renunciation of foreign citizenship be considered as a mere pro forma requirement.
Petitioners argument, therefore, loses its point. The "sworn renunciation of foreign
citizenship" must be deemed a formal requirement only with respect to the re-acquisition of
ones status as a natural-born Filipino so as to override the effect of the principle that
natural-born citizens need not perform any act to perfect their citizenship. Never was it
mentioned or even alluded to that, as the petitioner wants this Court to believe, those who
re-acquire their Filipino citizenship and thereafter run for public office has the option of
executing an unsworn affidavit of renunciation.
It is also palpable in the above records that Section 5 was intended to complement Section
18, Article XI of the Constitution on public officers primary accountability of allegiance and
loyalty, which provides:
Sec. 18. Public officers and employees owe the State and this Constitution allegiance at all
times and any public officer or employee who seeks to change his citizenship or acquire the
status of an immigrant of another country during his tenure shall be dealt with by law.
An oath is a solemn declaration, accompanied by a swearing to God or a revered person or
thing, that ones statement is true or that one will be bound to a promise. The person
making the oath implicitly invites punishment if the statement is untrue or the promise is
broken. The legal effect of an oath is to subject the person to penalties for perjury if the
testimony is false.28
Indeed, the solemn promise, and the risk of punishment attached to an oath ensures
truthfulness to the prospective public officers abandonment of his adopted state and
promise of absolute allegiance and loyalty to the Republic of the Philippines.
To hold the oath to be a mere pro forma requirement is to say that it is only for ceremonial
purposes; it would also accommodate a mere qualified or temporary allegiance from
government officers when the Constitution and the legislature clearly demand otherwise.
Petitioner contends that the Australian Citizenship Act of 1948, under which she is already
deemed to have lost her citizenship, is entitled to judicial notice. We disagree.
Foreign laws are not a matter of judicial notice. Like any other fact, they must be alleged and
proven.29 To prove a foreign law, the party invoking it must present a copy thereof and
comply with Sections 24 and 25 of Rule 132 of the Revised Rules of Court which reads:
Sec. 24. Proof of official record. The record of public documents referred to in paragraph
(a) of Section 19, when admissible for any purpose, may be evidenced by an official
publication thereof or by a copy attested by the officer having the legal custody of the
record, or by his deputy, and accompanied, if the record is not kept in the Philippines, with a

certificate that such officer has the custody. If the office in which the record is kept is in a
foreign country, the certificate may be made by a secretary of the embassy or legation,
consul general, consul, vice- consul, or consular agent or by any officer in the foreign service
of the Philippines stationed in the foreign country in which the record is kept, and
authenticated by the seal of his office. (Emphasis ours)
Sec. 25. What attestation of copy must state. Whenever a copy of a document or record is
attested for the purpose of the evidence, the attestation must state, in substance, that the
copy is a correct copy of the original, or a specific part thereof, as the case may be. The
attestation must be under the official seal of the attesting officer, if there be any, or if he be
the clerk of a court having a seal, under the seal of such court.
The Court has admitted certain exceptions to the above rules and held that the existence of
a foreign law may also be established through: (1) a testimony under oath of an expert
witness such as an attorney-at-law in the country where the foreign law operates wherein he
quotes verbatim a section of the law and states that the same was in force at the time
material to the facts at hand; and (2) likewise, in several naturalization cases, it was held by
the Court that evidence of the law of a foreign country on reciprocity regarding the
acquisition of citizenship, although not meeting the prescribed rule of practice, may be
allowed and used as basis for favorable action, if, in the light of all the circumstances, the
Court is "satisfied of the authenticity of the written proof offered." Thus, in a number of
decisions, mere authentication of the Chinese Naturalization Law by the Chinese Consulate
General of Manila was held to be a competent proof of that law. 30
The petitioner failed to prove the Australian Citizenship Act of 1948 through any of the
above methods. As uniformly observed by the RTC and COMELEC, the petitioner failed to
show proof of the existence of the law during trial. Also, the letter issued by the Australian
government showing that petitioner already renounced her Australian citizenship was
unauthenticated hence, the courts a quo acted judiciously in disregarding the same.
We are bound to arrive at a similar conclusion even if we were to admit as competent
evidence the said letter in view of the photocopy of a Certificate of Authentication issued by
Consular Section of the Philippine Embassy in Canberra, Australia attached to the
petitioners motion for reconsideration.
We have stressed in Advocates and Adherents of Social Justice for School Teachers and Allied
Workers (AASJS) Member v. Datumanong31 that the framers of R.A. No. 9225 did not intend
the law to concern itself with the actual status of the other citizenship.
This Court as the government branch tasked to apply the enactments of the legislature must
do so conformably with the wisdom of the latter sans the interference of any foreign law. If
we were to read the Australian Citizen Act of 1948 into the application and operation of R.A.
No. 9225, we would be applying not what our legislative department has deemed wise to
require. To do so would be a brazen encroachment upon the sovereign will and power of the
people of this Republic.32
The petitioners act of running for public office does not suffice to serve as an effective
renunciation of her Australian citizenship. While this Court has previously declared that the

filing by a person with dual citizenship of a certificate of candidacy is already considered a


renunciation of foreign citizenship,33 such ruling was already adjudged superseded by the
enactment of R.A. No. 9225 on August 29, 2003 which provides for the additional condition
of a personal and sworn renunciation of foreign citizenship.34
The fact that petitioner won the elections can not cure the defect of her candidacy.
Garnering the most number of votes does not validate the election of a disqualified
candidate because the application of the constitutional and statutory provisions on
disqualification is not a matter of popularity. 35
In fine, R.A. No. 9225 categorically demands natural-born Filipinos who re-acquire their
citizenship and seek elective office, to execute a personal and sworn renunciation of any and
all foreign citizenships before an authorized public officer prior to or simultaneous to the
filing of their certificates of candidacy, to qualify as candidates in Philippine elections. 36 The
rule applies to all those who have re-acquired their Filipino citizenship, like petitioner,
without regard as to whether they are still dual citizens or not. It is a pre-requisite imposed
for the exercise of the right to run for public office.
Stated differently, it is an additional qualification for elective office specific only to Filipino
citizens who re-acquire their citizenship under Section 3 of R.A. No. 9225. It is the operative
act that restores their right to run for public office. The petitioner's failure to comply
therewith in accordance with the exact tenor of the law, rendered ineffectual the Declaration
of Renunciation of Australian Citizenship she executed on September 18, 2006. As such, she
is yet to regain her political right to seek elective office. Unless she executes a sworn
renunciation of her Australian citizenship, she is ineligible to run for and hold any elective
office in the Philippines.
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the petition is hereby DISMISSED. The
Resolution dated September 6, 2011 of the Commission on Elections en bane in EAC (AE) No.
A-44-2010 is AFFIRMED in toto.
SO ORDERED.
RA 9225-CITIZENSHIP AND RETENTION ACT OF 2003
THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 199113, March 18, 2015
RENATO M. DAVID, Petitioner, v. EDITHA A. AGBAY AND PEOPLE OF THE
PHILIPPINES,Respondents.
DECISION
VILLARAMA, JR., J.:
This is a petition for review under Rule 45 seeking to reverse the Order1 dated October 8,
2011 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pinamalayan, Oriental Mindoro, which denied the
petition for certiorari filed by Renato M. David (petitioner). Petitioner assailed the

Order2 dated March 22, 2011 of the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Socorro, Oriental Mindoro
denying his motion for redetermination of probable cause.
The factual antecedents:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
In 1974, petitioner migrated to Canada where he became a Canadian citizen by
naturalization. Upon their retirement, petitioner and his wife returned to the Philippines.
Sometime in 2000, they purchased a 600-square meter lot along the beach in Tambong,
Gloria, Oriental Mindoro where they constructed a residential house. However, in the year
2004, they came to know that the portion where they built their house is public land and
part of the salvage zone.
On April 12, 2007, petitioner filed a Miscellaneous Lease Application 3 (MLA) over the subject
land with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) at the Community
Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) in Socorro. In the said application,
petitioner indicated that he is a Filipino citizen.
Private respondent Editha A. Agbay opposed the application on the ground that petitioner, a
Canadian citizen, is disqualified to own land. She also filed a criminal complaint for
falsification of public documents under Article 172 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) (I.S. No.
08-6463) against the petitioner.
Meanwhile, petitioner re-acquired his Filipino citizenship under the provisions of Republic Act
No. 9225,4 (R.A. 9225) as evidenced by Identification Certificate No. 266-10-07 5 issued by
the Consulate General of the Philippines (Toronto) on October 11, 2007.
In his defense, petitioner averred that at the time he filed his application, he had intended to
re-acquire Philippine citizenship and that he had been assured by a CENRO officer that he
could declare himself as a Filipino. He further alleged that he bought the property from the
Agbays who misrepresented to him that the subject property was titled land and they have
the right and authority to convey the same. The dispute had in fact led to the institution of
civil and criminal suits between him and private respondents family.
On January 8, 2008,6 the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor issued its Resolution7 finding
probable cause to indict petitioner for violation of Article 172 of the RPC and recommending
the filing of the corresponding information in court. Petitioner challenged the said resolution
in a petition for review he filed before the Department of Justice (DOJ).
On June 3, 2008, the CENRO issued an order rejecting petitioners MLA. It ruled that
petitioners subsequent re-acquisition of Philippine citizenship did not cure the defect in his
MLA which was voidab initio.8chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
In the meantime, on July 26, 2010, the petition for review filed by petitioner was denied by
the DOJ which held that the presence of the elements of the crime of falsification of public
document suffices to warrant indictment of the petitioner notwithstanding the absence of
any proof that he gained or intended to injure a third person in committing the act of
falsification.9 Consequently, an information for Falsification of Public Document was filed
before the MTC (Criminal Case No. 2012) and a warrant of arrest was issued against the
petitioner.
On February 11, 2011, after the filing of the Information and before his arrest, petitioner filed
an Urgent Motion for Re-Determination of Probable Cause10 in the MTC. Interpreting the
provisions of the law relied upon by petitioner, the said court denied the motion, holding that
R.A. 9225 makes a distinction between those who became foreign citizens during its
effectivity, and those who lost their Philippine citizenship before its enactment when the

governing law was Commonwealth Act No. 6311(CA 63). Since the crime for which petitioner
was charged was alleged and admitted to have been committed on April 12, 2007 before he
had re-acquired his Philippine citizenship, the MTC concluded that petitioner was at that time
still a Canadian citizen. Thus, the MTC ordered:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
WHEREFORE, for lack of jurisdiction over the person of the accused, and for lack of merit,
the motion is DENIED.
SO ORDERED.12
In his motion for reconsideration,13 petitioner questioned the foregoing order denying him
relief on the ground of lack of jurisdiction and insisted that the issue raised is purely legal.
He argued that since his application had yet to receive final evaluation and action by the
DENR Region IV-B office in Manila, it is academic to ask the citizenship of the applicant
(petitioner) who had re-acquired Philippine citizenship six months after he applied for lease
of public land. The MTC denied the motion for reconsideration. 14chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Dissatisfied, petitioner elevated the case to the RTC via a petition15 for certiorari under Rule
65, alleging grave abuse of discretion on the part of the MTC. He asserted that first,
jurisdiction over the person of an accused cannot be a pre-condition for the re-determination
of probable cause by the court that issues a warrant of arrest; and second, the March 22,
2011 Order disregarded the legal fiction that once a natural-born Filipino citizen who had
been naturalized in another country re-acquires his citizenship under R.A. 9225, his Filipino
citizenship is thus deemed not to have been lost on account of said naturalization.
In his Comment and Opposition,16 the prosecutor emphasized that the act of falsification was
already consummated as petitioner has not yet re-acquired his Philippine citizenship, and his
subsequent oath to re-acquire Philippine citizenship will only affect his citizenship status and
not his criminal act which was long consummated prior to said oath of allegiance.
On October 8, 2011, the RTC issued the assailed Order denying the petition for certiorari
after finding no grave abuse of discretion committed by the lower court,
thus:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
ACCORDINGLY, the petition is hereby DENIED. At any rate petitioner is not left without any
remedy or recourse because he can proceed to trial where he can make use of his claim to
be a Filipino citizen as his defense to be adjudicated in a full blown trial, and in case of
conviction, to appeal such conviction.
SO ORDERED.17
Petitioner is now before us arguing that
A. By supporting the prosecution of the petitioner for falsification, the lower court has
disregarded the undisputed fact that petitioner is a natural-born Filipino citizen, and
that by re-acquiring the same status under R.A. No. 9225 he was by legal fiction
deemed not to have lost it at the time of his naturalization in Canada and through
the time when he was said to have falsely claimed Philippine citizenship.
B. By compelling petitioner to first return from his legal residence in Canada and to
surrender or allow himself to be arrested under a warrant for his alleged false claim
to Philippine citizenship, the lower court has pre-empted the right of petitioner
through his wife and counsel to question the validity of the said warrant of arrest
against him before the same is implemented, which is tantamount to a denial of due
process.18
In his Comment, the Solicitor General contends that petitioners argument regarding the
retroactivity of R.A. 9225 is without merit. It is contended that this Courts rulings in Frivaldo
v. Commission on Elections19 and Altarejos v. Commission on Elections20 on the retroactivity

of ones re-acquisition of Philippine citizenship to the date of filing his application therefor
cannot be applied to the case of herein petitioner. Even assuming for the sake of argument
that such doctrine applies in the present situation, it will still not work for petitioners cause
for the simple reason that he had not alleged, much less proved, that he had already applied
for reacquisition of Philippine citizenship before he made the declaration in the Public Land
Application that he is a Filipino. Moreover, it is stressed that in falsification of public
document, it is not necessary that the idea of gain or intent to injure a third person be
present. As to petitioners defense of good faith, such remains to be a defense which may be
properly raised and proved in a full-blown trial.
On the issue of jurisdiction over the person of accused (petitioner), the Solicitor General
opines that in seeking an affirmative relief from the MTC when he filed his Urgent Motion for
Re-determination of Probable Cause, petitioner is deemed to have submitted his person to
the said courts jurisdiction by his voluntary appearance. Nonetheless, the RTC correctly
ruled that the lower court committed no grave abuse of discretion in denying the petitioners
motion after a judicious, thorough and personal evaluation of the parties arguments
contained in their respective pleadings, and the evidence submitted before the court.
In sum, the Court is asked to resolve whether (1) petitioner may be indicted for falsification
for representing himself as a Filipino in his Public Land Application despite his subsequent reacquisition of Philippine citizenship under the provisions of R.A. 9225; and (2) the MTC
properly denied petitioners motion for re-determination of probable cause on the ground of
lack of jurisdiction over the person of the accused (petitioner).
R.A. 9225, otherwise known as the Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003,
was signed into law by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on August 29, 2003. Sections 2
and 3 of said law read:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
SEC. 2. Declaration of Policy.It is hereby declared the policy of the State that all Philippine
citizens who become citizens of another country shall be deemed not to have lost their
Philippine citizenship under the conditions of this Act.
SEC. 3. Retention of Philippine Citizenship.Any provision of law to the contrary
notwithstanding, natural-born citizens of the Philippines who have lost their Philippine
citizenship by reason of their naturalization as citizens of a foreign country are hereby
deemed to have reacquired Philippine citizenship upon taking the following oath of
allegiance to the Republic:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
I ______________________, solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the
Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines and obey the laws and legal orders
promulgated by the duly constituted authorities of the Philippines; and I hereby declare that
I recognize and accept the supreme authority of the Philippines and will maintain true faith
and allegiance thereto; and that I impose this obligation upon myself voluntarily without
mental reservation or purpose of evasion.
Natural-born citizens of the Philippines who, after the effectivity of this Act, become
citizens of a foreign country shall retain their Philippine citizenship upon taking the
aforesaid oath. (Emphasis supplied)
While Section 2 declares the general policy that Filipinos who have become citizens of
another country shall be deemed not to have lost their Philippine citizenship, such is
qualified by the phrase under the conditions of this Act. Section 3 lays down such
conditions for two categories of natural-born Filipinos referred to in the first and second
paragraphs. Under the first paragraph are those natural-born Filipinos who have lost their
citizenship by naturalization in a foreign country who shall re-acquire their Philippine
citizenship upon taking the oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines. The second
paragraph covers those natural-born Filipinos who became foreign citizens after R.A. 9225
took effect, who shall retain their Philippine citizenship upon taking the same oath. The
taking of oath of allegiance is required for both categories of natural-born Filipino citizens

who became citizens of a foreign country, but the terminology used is different, reacquired for the first group, and retain for the second group.
The law thus makes a distinction between those natural-born Filipinos who became foreign
citizens before and after the effectivity of R.A. 9225. Although the heading of Section 3 is
Retention of Philippine Citizenship, the authors of the law intentionally employed the terms
re-acquire and retain to describe the legal effect of taking the oath of allegiance to the
Republic of the Philippines. This is also evident from the title of the law using both reacquisition and retention.
In fine, for those who were naturalized in a foreign country, they shall be deemed to have reacquired their Philippine citizenship which was lost pursuant to CA 63, under which
naturalization in a foreign country is one of the ways by which Philippine citizenship may be
lost. As its title declares, R.A. 9225 amends CA 63 by doing away with the provision in the
old law which takes away Philippine citizenship from natural-born Filipinos who become
naturalized citizens of other countries and allowing dual citizenship, 21 and also provides for
the procedure for re-acquiring and retaining Philippine citizenship. In the case of those who
became foreign citizens after R.A. 9225 took effect, they shall retain Philippine citizenship
despite having acquired foreign citizenship provided they took the oath of allegiance under
the new law.
Petitioner insists we should not distinguish between re-acquisition and retention in R.A.
9225. He asserts that in criminal cases, that interpretation of the law which favors the
accused is preferred because it is consistent with the constitutional presumption of
innocence, and in this case it becomes more relevant when a seemingly difficult question of
law is expected to have been understood by the accused, who is a non-lawyer, at the time of
the commission of the alleged offense. He further cites the letter-reply dated January 31,
201122 of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to his query, stating that his status as a naturalborn Filipino will be governed by Section 2 of R.A. 9225.
These contentions have no merit.
That the law distinguishes between re-acquisition and retention of Philippine citizenship was
made clear in the discussion of the Bicameral Conference Committee on the Disagreeing
Provisions of House Bill No. 4720 and Senate Bill No. 2130 held on August 18, 2003, where
Senator Franklin Drilon was responding to the query of Representative Exequiel
Javier:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
REP. JAVIER. I have some questions in Section 3. Here, under Section 3 of the Senate version,
Any provision of law on the contrary notwithstanding, natural-born citizens of the
Philippines who, after the effectivity of this Act, shall and so forth, ano, shall retain their
Philippine citizenship.
Now in the second paragraph, natural-born citizens who have lost their citizenship by reason
of their naturalization after the effectivity of this Act are deemed to have reacquired
THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. DRILON). Prior to the effectivity.
REP. JAVIER. Well, you have two kinds of natural-born citizens here. Natural-born citizens who
acquired foreign citizenship after the effectivity of this act are considered to have retained
their citizenship. But natural-born citizens who lost their Filipino citizenship before the
effectivity of this act are considered to have reacquired. May I know the distinction? Do you
mean to say that natural-born citizens who became, lets say, American citizens after the
effectivity of this act are considered natural-born?
Now in the second paragraph are the natural-born citizens who lost their citizenship before

the effectivity of this act are no longer natural born citizens because they have just
reacquired their citizenship. I just want to know this distinction, Mr. Chairman.
THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. DRILON). The title of the Senate version is precisely retention and
reacquisition. The reacquisition will apply to those who lost their Philippine
citizenship by virtue of Commonwealth Act 63. Upon the effectivity -- assuming that
we can agree on this, upon the effectivity of this new measure amending Commonwealth Act
63, the Filipinos who lost their citizenship is deemed to have reacquired their Philippine
citizenship upon the effectivity of the act.
The second aspect is the retention of Philippine citizenship applying to future
instances. So thats the distinction.
REP. JAVIER. Well, Im just asking this question because we are here making distinctions
between natural-born citizens. Because this is very important for certain government
positions, no, because natural-born citizens are only qualified for a specific
THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. DRILON). That is correct.
REP. JAVIER. ...positions under the Constitution and under the law.
THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. DRILON). Yes. We can get to that later on. Its one of the provisions,
yes. But just for purposes of the explanation, Congressman Javier, that is our
conceptualization. Reacquired for those who previously lost [Filipino citizenship]
by virtue of Commonwealth Act 63, and retention for those in the future. (Emphasis
supplied)
Considering that petitioner was naturalized as a Canadian citizen prior to the effectivity of
R.A. 9225, he belongs to the first category of natural-born Filipinos under the first paragraph
of Section 3 who lost Philippine citizenship by naturalization in a foreign country. As the new
law allows dual citizenship, he was able to re-acquire his Philippine citizenship by taking the
required oath of allegiance.
For the purpose of determining the citizenship of petitioner at the time of filing his MLA, it is
not necessary to discuss the rulings in Frivaldo and Altarejos on the retroactivity of such
reacquisition because R.A. 9225 itself treats those of his category as having already lost
Philippine citizenship, in contradistinction to those natural-born Filipinos who became foreign
citizens after R.A. 9225 came into force. In other words, Section 2 declaring the policy that
considers Filipinos who became foreign citizens as not to have lost their Philippine
citizenship, should be read together with Section 3, the second paragraph of which clarifies
that such policy governs all cases after the new laws effectivity.
As to the letter-reply of BI, it simply quoted Section 2 of R.A. 9225 without any reference to
Section 3 on the particular application of reacquisition and retention to Filipinos who became
foreign citizens before and after the effectivity of R.A. 9225.
Petitioners plea to adopt the interpretation most favorable to the accused is likewise
misplaced. Courts adopt an interpretation more favorable to the accused following the timehonored principle that penal statutes are construed strictly against the State and liberally in
favor of the accused.23R.A. 9225, however, is not a penal law.
Falsification of documents under paragraph 1, Article 17224 in relation to Article 17125 of the
RPC refers to falsification by a private individual, or a public officer or employee who did not
take advantage of his official position, of public, private, or commercial documents. The
elements of falsification of documents under paragraph 1, Article 172 of the RPC
are:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

(1) that the offender is a private individual or a public officer or employee who did not take
advantage of his official position;
(2) that he committed any of the acts of falsification enumerated in Article 171 of the RPC;
and
(3) that the falsification was committed in a public, official or commercial document. 26
Petitioner made the untruthful statement in the MLA, a public document, that he is a Filipino
citizen at the time of the filing of said application, when in fact he was then still a Canadian
citizen. Under CA 63, the governing law at the time he was naturalized as Canadian citizen,
naturalization in a foreign country was among those ways by which a natural-born citizen
loses his Philippine citizenship. While he re-acquired Philippine citizenship under R.A. 9225
six months later, the falsification was already a consummated act, the said law having no
retroactive effect insofar as his dual citizenship status is concerned. The MTC therefore did
not err in finding probable cause for falsification of public document under Article 172,
paragraph 1.
The MTC further cited lack of jurisdiction over the person of petitioner accused as ground for
denying petitioners motion for re-determination of probable cause, as the motion was filed
prior to his arrest. However, custody of the law is not required for the adjudication of reliefs
other than an application for bail.27 In Miranda v. Tuliao,28 which involved a motion to quash
warrant of arrest, this Court discussed the distinction between custody of the law and
jurisdiction over the person, and held that jurisdiction over the person of the accused is
deemed waived when he files any pleading seeking an affirmative relief, except in cases
when he invokes the special jurisdiction of the court by impugning such jurisdiction over his
person. Thus:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
In arguing, on the other hand, that jurisdiction over their person was already acquired by
their filing of the above Urgent Motion, petitioners invoke our pronouncement, through
Justice Florenz D. Regalado, in Santiago v. Vasquez:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
The voluntary appearance of the accused, whereby the court acquires jurisdiction over his
person, is accomplished either by his pleading to the merits (such as by filing a motion to
quash or other pleadings requiring the exercise of the courts jurisdiction thereover,
appearing for arraignment, entering trial) or by filing bail. On the matter of bail, since the
same is intended to obtain the provisional liberty of the accused, as a rule the same cannot
be posted before custody of the accused has been acquired by the judicial authorities either
by his arrest or voluntary surrender.cralawred
Our pronouncement in Santiago shows a distinction between custody of the
law andjurisdiction over the person. Custody of the law is required before the court can act
upon the application for bail, but is not required for the adjudication of other reliefs sought
by the defendant where the mere application therefor constitutes a waiver of the defense of
lack of jurisdiction over the person of the accused. Custody of the law is accomplished either
by arrest or voluntary surrender, while jurisdiction over the person of the accused is
acquired upon his arrest or voluntary appearance. One can be under the custody of the law
but not yet subject to the jurisdiction of the court over his person, such as when a person
arrested by virtue of a warrant files a motion before arraignment to quash the warrant. On
the other hand, one can be subject to the jurisdiction of the court over his person, and yet
not be in the custody of the law, such as when an accused escapes custody after his trial has
commenced. Being in the custody of the law signifies restraint on the person, who is thereby
deprived of his own will and liberty, binding him to become obedient to the will of the law.
Custody of the law is literally custody over the body of the accused. It includes, but is not
limited to, detention.
xxxx
While we stand by our above pronouncement in Pico insofar as it concerns bail, we clarify

that, as a general rule, one who seeks an affirmative relief is deemed to have
submitted to the jurisdiction of the court. As we held in the aforecited case
of Santiago, seeking an affirmative relief in court, whether in civil or criminal
proceedings, constitutes voluntary appearance.
xxxx
To recapitulate what we have discussed so far, in criminal cases, jurisdiction over the
person of the accused is deemed waived by the accused when he files any
pleading seeking an affirmative relief, except in cases when he invokes the
special jurisdiction of the court by impugning such jurisdiction over his person.
Therefore, in narrow cases involving special appearances, an accused can invoke the
processes of the court even though there is neither jurisdiction over the person nor custody
of the law. However, if a person invoking the special jurisdiction of the court applies for bail,
he must first submit himself to the custody of the law. 29(Emphasis supplied)
Considering that petitioner sought affirmative relief in filing his motion for re-determination
of probable cause, the MTC clearly erred in stating that it lacked jurisdiction over his person.
Notwithstanding such erroneous ground stated in the MTCs order, the RTC correctly ruled
that no grave abuse of discretion was committed by the MTC in denying the said motion for
lack of merit.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Order dated October 8, 2011 of the Regional Trial
Court of Pinamalayan, Oriental Mindoro in Civil Case No. SCA-07-11 (Criminal Case No. 2012)
is herebyAFFIRMED and UPHELD.
With costs against the petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
RA 3139 ADMINISTRATIVE NATURALIZATION LAW OF 2000
COMMONWEALTH ACT NO 473 JURIDICAL NATURALIZATION
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 197450

March 20, 2013

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner,


vs.
LI CHING CHUNG, a.k.a. BERNABE LUNA LI, a.k.a. STEPHEN LEE KENG, Respondent.
DECISION
MENDOZA, J.:
This Petition for Review on Certiorari1 under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure filed
by the Republic of the Philippines, represented by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG),

challenges the June 30, 2011 Decision2of the Court of Appea1s (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No.
93374, which affirmed the June 3, 2009 Decision3 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 49,
Manila (RTC), granting the petition for naturalization of respondent Li Ching Chung
(respondent).
On August 22, 2007, respondent, otherwise known as Bernabe Luna Li or Stephen Lee Keng,
a Chinese national, filed his Declaration of Intention to Become a Citizen of the Philippines
before the OSG.4
On March 12, 2008 or almost seven months after filing his declaration of intention,
respondent filed his Petition for Naturalization before the RTC, docketed as Civil Case No. 08118905.5 On April 5, 2008, respondent filed his Amended Petition for Naturalization, 6 wherein
he alleged that he was born on November 29, 1963 in Fujian Province, Peoples Republic of
China, which granted the same privilege of naturalization to Filipinos; that he came to the
Philippines on March 15, 1988 via Philippine Airlines Flight PR 311 landing at the Ninoy
Aquino International Airport; that on November 19, 1989, he married Cindy Sze Mei Ngar, a
British national, with whom he had four (4) children, all born in Manila; that he had been
continuously and permanently residing in the country since his arrival and is currently a
resident of Manila with prior residence in Malabon; that he could speak and write in English
and Tagalog; that he was entitled to the benefit of Section 3 of Commonwealth Act (CA) No.
473 reducing to five (5) years the requirement under Section 2 of ten years of continuous
residence, because he knew English and Filipino having obtained his education from St.
Stephens High School of Manila; and that he had successfully established a trading general
merchandise business operating under the name of "VS Marketing Corporation." 7As an
entrepreneur, he derives income more than sufficient to be able to buy a condominium unit
and vehicles, send his children to private schools and adequately provide for his family. 8
In support of his application, he attached his barangay certificate, 9 police clearance,10 alien
certification of registration,11 immigration certificate of residence,12 marriage
contract,13 authenticated birth certificates of his children,14 affidavits of his character
witnesses,15 passport,16 2006 annual income tax return,17 declaration of intention to become
a citizen of the Philippines18 and a certification19 from the Bureau of Immigration with a list of
his travel records from January 30, 1994.20
Consequently, the petition was set for initial hearing on April 3, 2009 and its notice 21 was
posted in a conspicuous place at the Manila City Hall and was published in the Official
Gazette on June 30, 2008,22 July 7, 200823 and July 14, 2008,24 and in the Manila Times,25 a
newspaper of general circulation, on May 30, 2008,26 June 6, 200827and June 13, 2008.28
Thereafter, respondent filed the Motion for Early Setting29 praying that the hearing be moved
from April 3, 2009 to July 31, 2008 so he could acquire real estate properties. The OSG filed
its Opposition,30 dated August 6, 2008, arguing that the said motion for early setting was a
"clear violation of Section 1, RA 530, which provides that hearing on the petition should be
held not earlier than six (6) months from the date of last publication of the notice." 31 The
opposition was already late as the RTC, in its July 31, 2008 Order, 32 denied respondents
motion and decreed that since the last publication in the newspaper of general circulation
was on June 13, 2008, the earliest setting could only be scheduled six (6) months later or on
December 15, 2008.

On December 15, 2008, the OSG reiterated, in open court, its opposition to the early setting
of the hearing and other grounds that would merit the dismissal of the petition. Accordingly,
the RTC ordered the suspension of the judicial proceedings until all the requirements of the
statute of limitation would be completed.33
The OSG filed a motion to dismiss,34 but the RTC denied the same in its Order,35 dated March
10, 2009, and reinstated the original hearing date on April 3, 2009, as previously indicated in
the notice.
Thereafter, respondent testified and presented two character witnesses, Emelita V. Roleda
and Gaudencio Abalayan Manimtim, who personally knew him since 1984 and 1998,
respectively, to vouch that he was a person of good moral character and had conducted
himself in a proper and irreproachable manner during his period of residency in the country.
On June 3, 2009, the RTC granted respondents application for naturalization as a Filipino
citizen.36
The decretal portion reads:
WHEREFORE, petitioner LI CHING CHUNG a.k.a. BERNABE LUNA LI a.k.a STEPHEN LEE KENG
is hereby declared a Filipino citizen by naturalization and admitted as such.
However, pursuant to Section 1 of Republic Act No. 530, this Decision shall not become
executory until after two (2) years from its promulgation and after the Court, on proper
hearing, with the attendance of the Solicitor General or his representative, is satisfied, and
so finds, that during the intervening time the applicant has: (1) not left the Philippines; (2)
has dedicated himself continuously to a lawful calling or profession; (3) has not been
convicted of any offense or violation of Government promulgated rules; (4) or committed
any act prejudicial to the interest of the nation or contrary to any Government announced
policies.
As soon as this decision shall have become executory, as provided under Section 1 of
Republic Act No. 530, the Clerk of Court of this Branch is hereby directed to issue to the
Petitioner a Naturalization Certificate, after the Petitioner shall have subscribed to an Oath,
in accordance with Section 12 of Commonwealth Act No. 472, as amended.
The Local Civil Registrar of the City of Manila is, likewise directed to register the
Naturalization Certificate in the proper Civil Registry.
SO ORDERED.37
The OSG appealed the RTC decision to the CA.38
On June 30, 2011, the CA affirmed the RTC decision.39 The CA held that although the petition
for naturalization was filed less than one (1) year from the time of the declaration of intent
before the OSG, this defect was not fatal. Moreover, contrary to the allegation of the OSG
that respondent did not present his Certificate of Arrival, the fact of his arrival could be
easily confirmed from the Certification, dated August 21, 2007, issued by the Bureau of

Immigration, and from the stamp in the passport of respondent indicating his arrival on
January 26, 1981.40 The CA further stated that "the Republic participated in every stage of
the proceedings below. It was accorded due process which it vigorously exercised from
beginning to end. Whatever procedural defects, if at all they existed, did not taint the
proceedings, let alone the Republics meaningful exercise of its right to due process." 41
Moreover, the CA noted that the OSG did not in any way question respondents qualifications
and his lack of disqualifications to be admitted as citizen of this country. Indeed, the CA was
convinced that respondent was truly deserving of this privilege. 42
Hence, this petition.43
To bolster its claim for the reversal of the assailed ruling, the OSG advances this pivotal issue
of
x x x whether the respondent should be admitted as a Filipino citizen despite his undisputed
failure to comply with the requirements provided for in CA No. 473, as amended which are
mandatory and jurisdictional in character particularly: (i) the filing of his petition for
naturalization within the one (1) year proscribed period from the date he filed his declaration
of intention to become a Filipino citizen; (ii) the failure to attach to the petition his certificate
of arrival; and (iii) the failure to comply with the publication and posting requirements
prescribed by CA No. 473.44
The OSG argues that "the petition for naturalization should not be granted in view of its
patent jurisdictional infirmities, particularly because: 1) it was filed within the one (1) year
proscribed period from the filing of declaration of intention; 2) no certificate of arrival, which
is indispensable to the validity of the Declaration of Intention, was attached to the petition;
and 3) respondents failure to comply with the publication and posting requirements set
under CA 473."45 In particular, the OSG points out that the publication and posting
requirements were not strictly followed, specifically citing that: "(a) the hearing of the
petition on 15 December 2008 was set ahead of the scheduled date of hearing on 3 April
2009; (b) the order moving the date of hearing (Order dated 31 July 2008) was not
published; and, (c) the petition was heard within six (6) months (15 December 2008) from
the last publication (on 14 July 2008)."46
The petition is meritorious.
Section 5 of CA No. 473,47 as amended,48 expressly states:
Section 5. Declaration of intention. One year prior to the filing of his petition for admission
to Philippine citizenship, the applicant for Philippine citizenship shall file with the Bureau of
Justice (now Office of the Solicitor General) a declaration under oath that it is bona fide his
intention to become a citizen of the Philippines. Such declaration shall set forth name, age,
occupation, personal description, place of birth, last foreign residence and allegiance, the
date of arrival, the name of the vessel or aircraft, if any, in which he came to the Philippines,
and the place of residence in the Philippines at the time of making the declaration. No
declaration shall be valid until lawful entry for permanent residence has been established
and a certificate showing the date, place, and manner of his arrival has been issued. The

declarant must also state that he has enrolled his minor children, if any, in any of the public
schools or private schools recognized by the Office of Private Education of the Philippines,
where Philippine history, government, and civics are taught or prescribed as part of the
school curriculum, during the entire period of the residence in the Philippines required of him
prior to the hearing of his petition for naturalization as Philippine citizen. Each declarant
must furnish two photographs of himself. (Emphasis supplied)
As held in Tan v. Republic,49 "the period of one year required therein is the time fixed for the
State to make inquiries as to the qualifications of the applicant. If this period of time is not
given to it, the State will have no sufficient opportunity to investigate the qualifications of
the applicants and gather evidence thereon. An applicant may then impose upon the courts,
as the State would have no opportunity to gather evidence that it may present to contradict
whatever evidence that the applicant may adduce on behalf of his petition." The period is
designed to give the government ample time to screen and examine the qualifications of an
applicant and to measure the latters good intention and sincerity of purpose. 50 Stated
otherwise, the waiting period will unmask the true intentions of those who seek Philippine
citizenship for selfish reasons alone, such as, but not limited to, those who are merely
interested in protecting their wealth, as distinguished from those who have truly come to
love the Philippines and its culture and who wish to become genuine partners in nation
building.
The law is explicit that the declaration of intention must be filed one year prior to the filing
of the petition for naturalization. Republic v. Go Bon Lee 51 likewise decreed that substantial
compliance with the requirement is inadequate. In that case, Go filed his declaration of
intention to become a citizen of the Philippines on May 23, 1940. After eleven months, he
filed his petition for naturalization on April 18, 1941. In denying his petition, the Court wrote:
The language of the law on the matter being express and explicit, it is beyond the province
of the courts to take into account questions of expediency, good faith and other similar
reasons in the construction of its provisions (De los Santos vs. Mallare, 87 Phil., 289; 48 Off.
Gaz., 1787). Were we to accept the view of the lower court on this matter, there would be no
good reason why a petition for naturalization cannot be filed one week after or
simultaneously with the filing of the required declaration of intention as long as the hearing
is delayed to a date after the expiration of the period of one year. The ruling of the lower
court amounts, in our opinion, to a substantial change in the law, something which courts
can not do, their duty being to apply the law and not tamper with it. 52
The only exception to the mandatory filing of a declaration of intention is specifically stated
in Section 6 of CA No. 473, to wit:
Section 6. Persons exempt from requirement to make a declaration of intention. Persons
born in the Philippines and have received their primary and secondary education in public
schools or those recognized by the Government and not limited to any race or nationality,
and those who have resided continuously in the Philippines for a period of thirty years or
more before filing their application, may be naturalized without having to make a declaration
of intention upon complying with the other requirements of this Act. To such requirements
shall be added that which establishes that the applicant has given primary and secondary
education to all his children in the public schools or in private schools recognized by the

Government and not limited to any race or nationality. The same shall be understood
applicable with respect to the widow and minor children of an alien who has declared his
intention to become a citizen of the Philippines, and dies before he is actually naturalized.
(Emphases supplied)
Unquestionably, respondent does not fall into the category of such exempt individuals that
would excuse him from filing a declaration of intention one year prior to the filing of a
petition for naturalization. Contrary to the CA finding, respondents premature filing of his
petition for naturalization before the expiration of the one-year period is fatal. 53
Consequently, the citation of the CA of the ruling in Tam Tan v. Republic 54 is misplaced. In
that case, the Court did not excuse the non-compliance with the one-year period, but
reiterated that the waiting period of one (1) year is mandatory. In reversing the grant of
naturalization to Tam Tan, the Court wrote:
The appeal is predicated on the fact that the petition for naturalization was filed (26 October
1950) before the lapse of one year from and after the filing of a verified declaration of his
bona fide intention to become a citizen (4 April 1950), in violation of Section 5 of
Commonwealth Act No. 473, as amended.1wphi1
The position of the Government is well taken, because no petition for naturalization may be
filed and heard and hence no decree may be issued granting it under the provisions of
Commonwealth Act No. 473, as amended, before the expiration of one year from and after
the date of the filing of a verified declaration of his bona fide intention to become a citizen of
the Philippines. This is mandatory.55 Failure to raise in the lower court the question of noncompliance therewith does not preclude the Government from raising it on appeal. 56
Nevertheless, after the one-year period, the applicant may renew his petition for
naturalization and the evidence already taken or heard may be offered anew without the
necessity of bringing to court the witnesses who had testified. And the Government may
introduce evidence in support of its position.57
The decree granting the petition for naturalization is set aside, without costs.
In naturalization proceedings, the burden of proof is upon the applicant to show full and
complete compliance with the requirements of the law.58 The opportunity of a foreigner to
become a citizen by naturalization is a mere matter of grace, favor or privilege extended to
him by the State; the applicant does not possess any natural, inherent, existing or vested
right to be admitted to Philippine citizenship. The only right that a foreigner has, to be given
the chance to become a Filipino citizen, is that which the statute confers upon him; and to
acquire such right, he must strictly comply with all the statutory conditions and
requirements.59 The absence of one jurisdictional requirement is fatal to the petition as this
necessarily results in the dismissal or severance of the naturalization process.
Hence, all other issues need not be discussed further as respondent failed to strictly follow
the requirement mandated by the statute.

It should be emphasized that "a naturalization proceeding is so infused with public interest
that it has been differently categorized and given special treatment. x x x Unlike in ordinary
judicial contest, the granting of a petition for naturalization does not preclude the reopening
of that case and giving the government another opportunity to present new evidence. A
decision or order granting citizenship will not even constitute res judicata to any matter or
reason supporting a subsequent judgment cancelling the certification of naturalization
already granted, on the ground that it had been illegally or fraudulently procured. For the
same reason, issues even if not raised in the lower court may be entertained on appeal. As
the matters brought to the attention of this Court x x x involve facts contained in the
disputed decision of the lower court and admitted by the parties in their pleadings, the
present proceeding may be considered adequate for the purpose of determining the
correctness or incorrectness of said decision, in the light of the law and extant
jurisprudence."60
Ultimately, respondent failed to prove full and complete compliance with the requirements
of the Naturalization Law. As such, his petition for naturalization must be denied without
prejudice to his right to re-file his application.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The June 30, 2011 Decision of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. CV No. 93374 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The petition for naturalization of
respondent Li Ching Chung, otherwise known as Bernabe Luna Li or Stephen Lee Keng,
docketed as Civil Case No. 08-118905 before the Regional Trial Court, Branch 49, Manila, is
DISMISSED, without prejudice.
SO ORDERED.
LEGISLATIVE NATURALIZATION
THIRD DIVISION
EDISON SO, G.R. No. 170603
Petitioner,
Present:
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.,
- versus - Chairperson,
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CALLEJO, SR., and
CHICO-NAZARIO, JJ.
REPUBLIC OF THE Promulgated:
PHILIPPINES,
Respondent. January 29, 2007
x--------------------------------------------------x
DECISION
CALLEJO, SR., J.:

Assailed in this Petition for Review on Certiorari is the Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals (CA)
in CA-G.R. CV No. 80437 which reversed the Decision [2] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC)
of Manila, Branch 8, in Naturalization Case No. 02-102984. Likewise assailed is the appellate
courts Resolution denying the Motion for Reconsideration of its Decision.
Antecedents
On February

28,

2002,

petitioner Edison

So

filed

before

the

RTC

Petition

for

Naturalization[3] under Commonwealth Act (C.A.) No. 473, otherwise known as the Revised
Naturalization Law, as amended. He alleged the following in his petition:
He was born on February 17, 1982, in Manila; he is a Chinese citizen who has lived
in No. 528 Lavezares St., Binondo, Manila, since birth; as an employee, he derives an
average annual income of around P100,000.00 with free board and lodging and other
benefits; he is single, able to speak and write English, Chinese and Tagalog; he is exempt
from the filing of Declaration of Intention to become a citizen of the Philippines pursuant to
Section 6 of Commonwealth Act (C.A.) No. 473, as amended, because he was born in the
Philippines, and studied in a school recognized by the Government where Philippine history,
government and culture are taught; he is a person of good moral character; he believes in
the principles underlying the Philippine constitution; he has conducted himself in a proper
and irreproachable manner during the entire period of his residence in the Philippines in his
relation with the constituted government as well as with the community in which he is living;
he has mingled socially with the Filipinos and has evinced a sincere desire to learn and
embrace the customs, traditions and ideals of the Filipino people; he has all the
qualifications provided under Section 2 and none of the disqualifications under Section 4 of
C.A. No. 473, as amended; he is not opposed to organized government or affiliated with any
association or group of persons who uphold and teach doctrines opposing all organized
governments; he is not defending or teaching the necessity or propriety of violence,
personal assault or assassination for the success or predominance of mens ideas; he is not a
polygamist or a believer in the practice of polygamy; he has not been convicted of any crime
involving moral turpitude; he is not suffering from any incurable contagious diseases or from
mental alienation; the nation of which he is a citizen is not at war with the Philippines; it is
his intention in good faith to become a citizen of the Philippines and to renounce absolutely
and forever all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty,
and particularly to China; and he will reside continuously in the Philippines from the time of

the filing of the petition up to the time of his admission as citizen of the Philippines. The
petition was docketed as Naturalization Case No. 02-102984.
Attached to the petition were the Joint Affidavit [4] of Atty. Artemio Adasa, Jr. and Mark B.
Salcedo; and petitioners Certificate of Live Birth, [5] Alien Certificate of Registration,[6] and
Immigrant Certificate of Residence.[7]
On March 22, 2002, the RTC issued an Order [8] setting the petition for hearing at 8:30
a.m. of December 12 and 17, 2002 during which all persons concerned were enjoined to
show cause, if any, why the petition should not be granted. The entire petition and its
annexes, including the order, were ordered published once a week for three consecutive
weeks in the Official Gazette and also in a newspaper of general circulation in the City
of Manila. The RTC likewise ordered that copies of the petition and notice be posted in public
and conspicuous places in the Manila City Hall Building. [9]
Petitioner thus caused the publication of the above order, as well as the entire petition and
its annexes, in the Official Gazette on May 20, 2002[10] and May 27, 2002,[11] and in Today, a
newspaper of general circulation in the City of Manila, on May 25, 2002 and June 1, 2002.
No one opposed the petition. During the hearing, petitioner presented Atty. Adasa, Jr. who
testified that he came to know petitioner in 1991 as the legal consultant and adviser of the
So familys business. He would usually attend parties and other social functions hosted by
petitioners family. He knew petitioner to be obedient, hardworking, and possessed of good
moral character, including all the qualifications mandated by law. Atty. Adasa, Jr. further
testified that petitioner was gainfully employed and presently resides at No. 528 Lavezares
Street, Binondo, Manila; petitioner had been practicing Philippine tradition and those
embodied in the Constitution; petitioner had been socially active, mingled with some of his
neighbors and had conducted himself in a proper and irreproachable manner during his
entire stay in the Philippines; and petitioner and his family observed Christmas and New Year
and some occasions such as fiestas. According to the witness, petitioner was not disqualified
under C.A. No. 473 to become a Filipino citizen: he is not opposed to organized government
or believes in the use of force; he is not a polygamist and has not been convicted of a crime
involving moral turpitude; neither is he suffering from any mental alienation or any incurable
disease.[12]

Another witness for petitioner, Mark Salcedo, testified that he has known petitioner for ten
(10) years; they first met at a birthday party in 1991. He and petitioner were classmates at
the University of Santo Tomas (UST) where they took up Pharmacy. Petitioner was a member
of some school organizations and mingled well with friends. [13] Salcedo further testified that
he saw petitioner twice a week, and during fiestas and special occasions when he would go
to

petitioners

house. He

has

known

petitioner

to

have

resided

in Manila since

birth. Petitioner is intelligent, a person of good moral character, and believes in the
principles of the Philippine Constitution.Petitioner has a gainful occupation, has conducted
himself in a proper and irreproachable manner and has all the qualifications to become a
Filipino citizen.
Petitioner also testified and attempted to prove that he has all the qualifications and none of
the disqualifications to become a citizen of the Philippines.
At the conclusion of his testimonial evidence, petitioner offered in evidence the
following documents: (1) Certificate of Live Birth; [14] (2) Alien Certificate of Registration; [15] (3)
Immigrant
Students

[18]

Certificate

of

Residence;[16] (4)

Elementary

Pupils[17] and

High

School

Permanent Record issued by Chang Kai Shek College; (5) Transcript of Record

issued by the University of Santo Tomas;[19] (6) Certification of Part-Time Employment dated
November 20, 2002;[20] (7) Income Tax Returns and Certificate of Withholding Tax for the
year 2001;[21] (8) Certification from Metrobank that petitioner is a depositor; [22] (9) Clearances
that he has not been charged or convicted of any crime involving moral turpitude; [23] and
(10) Medical Certificates and Psychiatric Evaluation issued by the Philippine General
Hospital.[24] The RTC admitted all these in evidence.
The RTC granted the petition on June 4, 2003.[25] The fallo of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered GRANTING the petition and
declaring that petitioner EDISON SO has all the qualifications and none of the
disqualifications to become a Filipino citizen and he is hereby admitted as
citizen of the Philippines, after taking the necessary oath of allegiance, as
soon as this decision becomes final, subject to payment of cost of P30,000.00.
SO ORDERED.[26]

The trial court ruled that the witnesses for petitioner had known him for the period required
by law, and they had affirmed that petitioner had all the qualifications and none of the
disqualifications to become a Filipino citizen. Thus, the court concluded that petitioner had
satisfactorily supported his petition with evidence.

Respondent Republic of the Philippines, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG),
appealed the decision to the CA on the following grounds:
I.
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN GRANTING THE PETITION FOR NATURALIZATION
DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE TWO (2) CHARACTER WITNESSES, NAMELY:
ARTEMIO ADASA, JR. AND MARK SALCEDO WERE NOT QUALIFIED CHARACTER
WITNESSES.
PETITIONER IS NOT
THE PHILIPPINES.[27]

QUALIFIED

II.
TO

BE

ADMITTED

AS

CITIZEN

OF

Respondent contended that based on the evidence on record, appellee failed to prove that
he possesses all the qualifications under Section 2 and none of the disqualifications under
Section 4 of C.A. No. 473. It insisted that his two (2) character witnesses did not know him
well enough to vouch for his fitness to become a Filipino citizen; they merely made general
statements without giving specific details about his character and moral conduct. [28] The
witnesses did not even reside in the same place as petitioner. [29] Respondent likewise argued
that petitioner himself failed to prove that he is qualified to become a Filipino citizen
because he did not give any explanation or specific answers to the questions propounded by
his lawyer. He merely answered yes or no or gave general statements in answer to his
counsels questions. Thus, petitioner was unable to prove that he had all the qualifications
and none of the disqualifications required by law to be a naturalized Filipino citizen. [30]
On the other hand, petitioner averred that he graduated cum laude from the UST with the
degree of Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy. He is now on his second year as a medical
student at the UST Medicine and Surgery. He avers that the requirements for naturalization
under C.A. No. 473, as amended by LOI 270, in relation to Presidential Decree Nos. 836 and
1379, had been relaxed after the Philippine government entered into diplomatic relations
with the Peoples Republic of China; the requirements were further relaxed when Republic Act
(R.A.) No. 9139 was signed into law. [31] Petitioner pointed out that the petition, with all its
annexes, was published in the official gazette and a newspaper of general circulation;
notices were likewise sent to the National Bureau of Investigation, Department of Justice,
Department of Foreign Affairs, and the OSG. But none from these offices came forward to
oppose the petition before the lower court.[32] Petitioner insisted that he has all the
qualifications and none of the disqualifications to become Filipino. This was clearly
established by his witnesses.

In its Reply Brief, respondent alleged that R.A. No. 9139 applies to administrative
naturalization filed with the Special Committee on Naturalization. It insisted that even in the
absence of any opposition, a petition for naturalization may be dismissed.
In its Decision[33] dated August 4, 2005, the CA set aside the ruling of the RTC and dismissed
the petition for naturalization without prejudice. [34] According to the CA, petitioners two (2)
witnesses were not credible because they failed to mention specific details of petitioners life
or character to show how well they knew him; they merely parroted the provisions of the
Naturalization Act without clearly explaining their applicability to petitioners case. [35] The
appellate court likewise ruled that petitioner failed to comply with the requirement of the law
that the applicant must not be less than 21 years of age on the day of the hearing of the
petition; during the first hearing on December 12, 2002, petitioner was only twenty (20)
years, nine (9) months, and twenty five (25) days old, falling short of the requirement. [36] The
CA stated, however, that it was not its intention to forever close the door to any future
application for naturalization which petitioner would file, and that it believes that he would
make a good Filipino citizen in due time, a decided asset to this country. [37]
Petitioners motion for reconsideration[38] was denied in a Resolution [39] dated November 24,
2005; hence, the present petition grounded on the sole issue:
WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED
REVERSIBLE ERROR WHEN IT REVERSED THE DECISION OF THE REGIONAL
TRIAL COURT OF MANILA.[40]
In support of his petition, petitioner reiterates the arguments he set forth in the Brief filed
before the CA.
In its Comment[41] on the petition, respondent countered that R.A. No. 9139 (which
took effect on August 8, 2001 and where the applicants age requirement was lowered to
eighteen (18) years old), refers only to administrative naturalization filed with the Special
Committee on Naturalization; it does not apply to judicial naturalization before the court, as
in the present case.[42] Respondent, through the OSG, avers that its failure to oppose the
petition before the court a quo does not preclude it from appealing the decision of the RTC to
the CA; it is even authorized to question an already final decision by filing a petition for
cancellation of citizenship.[43] Lastly, respondent reiterates its argument that petitioners
character witnesses are not qualified to prove the formers qualifications.

In determining whether or not an applicant for naturalization is entitled to become a Filipino


citizen, it is necessary to resolve the following issues: (1) whether or not R.A. No. 9139
applies to petitions for naturalization by judicial act; and (2) whether or not the witnesses
presented by petitioner are credible in accordance with the jurisprudence and the definition
and guidelines set forth in C.A. No. 473.
The petition is denied for lack of merit.
Naturalization signifies the act of formally adopting a foreigner into the political body of a
nation by clothing him or her with the privileges of a citizen. [44] Under current and existing
laws, there are three ways by which an alien may become a citizen by naturalization: (a)
administrative naturalization pursuant to R.A. No. 9139; (b) judicial naturalization pursuant
to C.A. No. 473, as amended; and (c) legislative naturalization in the form of a law enacted
by Congress bestowing Philippine citizenship to an alien. [45]
Petitioners contention that the qualifications an applicant for naturalization should
possess are those provided for in R.A. No. 9139 and not those set forth in C.A. No. 473 is
barren of merit. The qualifications and disqualifications of an applicant for naturalization
by judicial act are set forth in Sections 2[46] and 4[47] of C.A. No. 473. On the other hand,
Sections 3[48] and 4[49] of R.A. No. 9139 provide for the qualifications and disqualifications of
an applicant for naturalization byadministrative act.
Indeed, R.A. No. 9139 was enacted as a remedial measure intended to make the process of
acquiring Philippine citizenship less tedious, less technical and more encouraging. [50] It
likewise addresses the concerns of degree holders who, by reason of lack of citizenship
requirement, cannot practice their profession, thus promoting brain gain for the Philippines.
[51]

These however, do not justify petitioners contention that the qualifications set forth in

said law apply even to applications for naturalization by judicial act.


First. C.A. No. 473 and R.A. No. 9139 are separate and distinct laws the former covers all
aliens regardless of class while the latter covers native-born aliens who lived here in the
Philippines all their lives, who never saw any other country and all along thought that they
were Filipinos; who have demonstrated love and loyalty to the Philippines and affinity to the
customs and traditions.[52] To reiterate, the intention of the legislature in enacting R.A. No.
9139 was to make the process of acquiring Philippine citizenship less tedious, less technical
and more encouraging which is administrative rather than judicial in nature. Thus, although

the legislature believes that there is a need to liberalize the naturalization law of
the Philippines, there is nothing from which it can be inferred that C.A. No. 473 was intended
to be amended or repealed by R.A. No. 9139. What the legislature had in mind was merely to
prescribe another mode of acquiring Philippine citizenship which may be availed of bynative
born aliens. The only implication is that, a native born alien has the choice to apply for
judicial or administrative naturalization, subject to the prescribed qualifications and
disqualifications.
In the instant case, petitioner applied for naturalization by judicial act, though at the time of
the filing of his petition, administrative naturalization under R.A. No. 9139 was already
available. Consequently, his application should be governed by C.A. No. 473.
Second. If the qualifications prescribed in R.A. No. 9139 would be made applicable even to
judicial naturalization, the coverage of the law would be broadened since it would then apply
even to aliens who are not native born. It must be stressed that R.A. No. 9139 applies only to
aliens who were born in the Philippines and have been residing here.
Third. Applying the provisions of R.A. No. 9139 to judicial naturalization is contrary to the
intention of the legislature to liberalize the naturalization procedure in the country. One of
the qualifications set forth in R.A. No. 9139 is that the applicant was born in
the Philippines and should have been residing herein since birth. Thus, one who was born
here but left the country, though resided for more than ten (10) years from the filing of the
application is also disqualified. On the other hand, if we maintain the distinct qualifications
under each of the two laws, an alien who is not qualified under R.A. No. 9139 may still be
naturalized under C.A. No. 473.
Thus, absent a specific provision expressly amending C.A. No. 473, the law stands and the
qualifications and disqualifications set forth therein are maintained.
In any event, petitioner failed to prove that the witnesses he presented were competent to
vouch for his good moral character, and are themselves possessed of good moral
character. It must be stressed that character witnesses in naturalization proceedings stand
as insurers of the applicants conduct and character. Thus, they ought to testify on specific
facts and events justifying the inference that the applicant possesses all the qualifications
and none of the disqualifications provided by law.[53]

Petitioners witnesses, Atty. Adasa and Salcedo, did not testify on his specific acts; they did
not elaborate on his traits. Their testimonies do not convince the Court that they personally
know petitioner well and are therefore in a position to vouch for his qualifications. As
correctly found by the CA, the witnesses testimonies consisted mainly of general statements
in answer to the leading questions propounded by his counsel. What they conveniently did
was to enumerate the qualifications as set forth in the law without giving specific
details. The pertinent portion of Atty. Adasas testimony follows:
q Do you know the petitioner Edison So?
a Yes, Sir.
q Will you please tell us how did you come to know him?
a Well I came to know him[,] the petitioner[,] when I was the legal consultant
and adviser of their family business and I used to ah (sic) me[e]t him
during my visit to their place way back in 1991 to 1992.
q From that day of 1991 up to the present, is your relationship with the
petitioner more or less contin[u]ous?
a Yes, sir, because aside from the usual professional visit that I did to their
family some social function was sponsored normally and I am (sic) invited
and I used to attend.
q During the birthday party of the petitioner, did you usually attend
petitioners birthday?
a On several occasions I attend the birthday.
q Will you please tell us where the petitioner resides at present?
a At present the petitioner resides at No. 528 Lavezares
Binondo, Manila.

Street,

q Do you know for how long the petitioner resides in the Philippines?
a As far as I personally known (sic) Your Honor is that since birth.
q During all the times that you have know[n] the petitioner, what is your
impression of his conduct?
a Well ah (sic) I have personally known him to be obedient and hard working
individual and ah (sic) he has a good moral character and he has been ah
(sic) no adverse report concerning the character of the petitioner.
q In your opinion does the petitioner has the qualifications necessary to
become [a] citizen of the Philippines?
a Yes.
q Can you tell us why do you say so?
a I would say Your Honor that petitioner has posses (sic) all the qualifications
mandated by law and presently he is more than 21 years old and he has
resided in the Philippines particularly in the City of Manila contin[u]ously
for more than ten (10) years and that since his birth; and that he has
good moral character and I have observed that ah (sic) he has been
practicing Philippine traditions and ah (sic) those embodied in the
Philippine constitution and he has been socially active and meddle (sic)

some of his neighbors and ah (sic) I am sure he has desire to embrace


and learn the customs and ideas and traditions in the Philippine[s] and as
I earlier mentioned that he conducted himself in proper and approachable
(sic) manner during his entire residence in our country and he has a
gainful occupation.
q Will you please tell us what are these customs which the petitioner
embraced?
a Well I have observed that ah (sic) together with his family they used to ah
observed (sic) the usual Filipino celebration during Christmas and new
year and some occasions such as fiestas.
q And do you know whether petitioner is not disqualified under
Commonwealth Act to become Filipino citizen of the Philippines (sic)?
a Ah there has been no incident or occasion which I learned that would
disqualify of coming (sic) the citizen of the Republic of the Philippines. I
have noticed that ah (sic) he is qualified under Commonwealth Act 473 as
amended because he is not opposed to ah (sic) organized government.
His family and himself does not believed (sic) in the use of force in the
success of his ideas and ah (sic) he is not a poligamist (sic) or believer in
the practice of illegal and he has not been convicted in any crime
involving him in any crime (sic). and he is not suffering from any mental
alienation or any incurable contidious (sic) disease. as provided for.
q Will you please tell us why you know all these stage?
a Because of ah (sic) the personal attachment with his family we have
continuously having ah (sic) the usual contact with his family.[54]
It can thus be inferred that Atty. Adasa is close to petitioners family, but not
specifically to petitioner. Atty. Adasas statements refer to his observations on the familys
practices and not to petitioner in particular. Nothing in his testimony suggests that he was
close to petitioner and knew him well enough to vouch for his qualifications.
Salcedo, on the other hand, testified thus:
q Now do you know the petitioner in this case Edison So?
a Yes, Sir.
q Are you personally acquainted with him?
a Yes, Sir.
q How long have you known the petitioner?
a I have known him for about ten (10) years, Sir.
q Will you please inform the Honorable court under what circumstances did
you come to know the petitioner?
a I met him in a birthday party in 1991, Sir.
q And from 1991 up to the present is your relationship with the petitioner
more or less contin[u]ous?
a Yes, Sir.

q How often did you see the petitioner?


a I see him twice a week, Sir.
q And during this time that you met the petitioner, what did you usually do?
a We play some games, Sir. We play Patentero (sic).
q Do you go to church together?
a Yes, Sir.
q During fiestas in your place, did the petitioner go?
a Yes, Sir.
q How about during fiestas in the place where the petitioner reside[s], did you
also go during fiestas?
a Yes, Sir.
q During occasion in the house of the petitioner, are you invited?
a Yes, Sir.
q How many time[s] did you go to his (sic) residence of the petitioner?
a Twice a week, sir.
q Will you please tell us where the petitioner resides?
a The petitioner resides at 528 Lavezares Street, Tondo, Manila, Sir.
q For how long does the petitioner reside in that address?
a Since birth, Sir.
q During all the times that you have known the petitioner, will you please tell
us your impression of his conduct?
a He is a person of good moral, sir, and he believed in the principles of
the Philippines (sic) Constitution.
q Will you please cite one or two of these principles underlined the principles
(sic) of the Philippines (sic) Constitution?
a Ah the Philippines is a Republican of the (sic) state, sovereignty preside (sic)
over the people and the government authority emanate from within; and
the other one is the civilian government is not supreme over the military.
q Now in your opinion does the petitioner have all the qualifications necessary
to become a citizen of the Philippines?
a Yes, Sir.
q What are these qualifications?
a He is at least 21 years old, he is a person of good moral and has been
residing in the Philippines since birth.
q What else?
a He must be a Filipino and ah must practice the traditions and customs, Sir.
q Do you know whether the petitioner conducted himself in a proper and
appraochable (sic) manner during the period of his residence in
the Philippines?
a Yes, Sir.

q Do you know if the petitioner has a gainful occupation?


a Yes, Sir.
q What is the occupation of the petitioner?
a Ah (sic) he is the secretary in a wood factory in Commonwealth, Sir.
q And aside from being the secretary, what else did the petitioner do?
a He help (sic) in the factory cargo, Sir.
q Is the petitioner still a student?
a Yes, Sir.
q Where is he studying?
a In UST, Sir.
q Is he your classmate?
a Yes, Sir.
q What was his course?
a Pharmacy, Sir.
q So when you said he was the secretary he only works as part time
secretary?
a Yes, Sir.
q You said the petitioner meddle (sic) socially with the Filipinos?
a Yes, Sir.
q Will you please name at least one of those Filipinos the petitioner meddle
(sic) with?
a Samuel Falmera, Sir, Marlon Kahocom, Sir.
q Who else?
a Elmer Ramos, Sir.
q Who else?
a Sharmaine Santos, Sir.
q You said the petitioner is of good moral character?
a Yes, Sir.
q Why do you know that?
a As a classmate I can see him I go with him and ah (sic) I can see that he has
ah better approached (sic) with other people and I can see that he mixed
very well with friends.
q So during school days you see him everyday?
a Yes, Sir.
q When there are no classes during the vacation you see the petitioner twice a
week?
a Yes, Sir.
q Does the petitioner (sic), do you think the petitioner is not disqualified to
become the citizen of the Republic of the Philippines?

a Yes, Sir, he is not disqualified, Sir.


q Why do you say that he is not disqualified?
a Because he abide [by] any law in the government, sir, ah (sic) he is not
polygamus and he is not convicted of any crime, Sir.
q Do you know ever the petitioner oppose to any organized government?
a No, Sir.
q Do you know whether he believe[s] in the use of force in any such ideas?
a No, Sir.
q Do you know if the petitioner is a believer in the practice of polygamy?
a No, Sir.
q Do you know whether the petitioner suffer[s] from mental alienation or
incurable disease illnesses?
a No, Sir.
q Why do you know?
a I know him personally, sir, I have been with him as my classmate, sir and ah
(sic) he is a very intelligent person, Sir.
q Is the petitioner a member also of any organization or association in your
school?
a Yes, Sir.
q What organization?
a He is a member of Wishten and a member of starget, Sir.
q What does starget means?
a Starget is an organization of Chinese community in UST, Sir.
q How about the other one which you mentioned?
a Ah (sic) these are twisting, sir he represents the ah the (sic) school
intercollegiate, Sir.[55]
Again, Salcedo did not give specific details on petitioners qualifications.
In sum, petitioners witnesses clearly did not personally know him well enough; their
testimonies do not satisfactorily establish that petitioner has all the qualifications and none
of the disqualifications prescribed by law.
In naturalization proceedings, it is the burden of the applicant to prove not only his
own good moral character but also the good moral character of his/her witnesses, who must
be credible persons.[56] Within the purview of the naturalization law, a credible person is not
only an individual who has not been previously convicted of a crime; who is not a police
character and has no police record; who has not perjured in the past; or whose affidavit or

testimony is not incredible. What must be credible is not the declaration made but the
person making it. This implies that such person must have a good standing in the
community; that he is known to be honest and upright; that he is reputed to be trustworthy
and reliable; and that his word may be taken on its face value, as a good warranty of the
applicants worthiness.[57]
The records likewise do not show that the character witnesses of petitioner are persons of
good standing in the community; that they are honest and upright, or reputed to be
trustworthy and reliable. The most that was established was the educational attainment of
the witnesses; however, this cannot be equated with their credibility. In fine, petitioner
focused on presenting evidence tending to build his own good moral character and
neglected to establish the credibility and good moral character of his witnesses. [58]

We do not agree with petitioners argument that respondent is precluded from questioning
the RTC decision because of its failure to oppose the petition. A naturalization proceeding is
not a judicial adversary proceeding, and the decision rendered therein does not
constitute res judicata. A certificate of naturalization may be cancelled if it is subsequently
discovered that the applicant obtained it by misleading the court upon any material fact.Law
and jurisprudence even authorize the cancellation of a certificate of naturalization upon
grounds or conditions arising subsequent to the granting of the certificate. [59] If the
government can challenge a final grant of citizenship, with more reason can it appeal the
decision of the RTC within the reglementary period despite its failure to oppose the petition
before the lower court.
Thus, petitioner failed to show full and complete compliance with the requirements of
naturalization law. For this reason, we affirm the decision of the CA denying the petition for
naturalization without prejudice.
It must be stressed that admission to citizenship is one of the highest privileges that
the Republic of the Philippines can confer upon an alien. It is a privilege that should not be
conferred except upon persons fully qualified for it, and upon strict compliance with the law.
[60]

IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.
DOMICILE
EN BANC

ROMMEL APOLINARIO G.R. No. 191970


JALOSJOS,
Petitioner, Present:
CORONA, C.J.,

CARPIO,
VELASCO, JR.,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
BRION,
- versus - PERALTA,
BERSAMIN,
DEL CASTILLO,
ABAD,
VILLARAMA, JR.,
PEREZ,
MENDOZA,
SERENO,
REYES, and
PERLAS-BERNABE, JJ.
THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS
and DAN ERASMO, SR., Promulgated:
Respondents.
April 24, 2012

x ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- x

DECISION

ABAD, J.:

This case is about the proof required to establish the domicile of a reinstated Filipino citizen
who seeks election as governor of a province.

The Facts and the Case

Petitioner Rommel Jalosjos was born in Quezon City on October 26, 1973. He migrated
to Australia in 1981 when he was eight years old and there acquired Australian
citizenship. On November 22, 2008, at age 35, he decided to return to the Philippines and
lived with his brother, Romeo, Jr., in Barangay Veterans Village, Ipil, Zamboanga
Sibugay. Four days upon his return, he took an oath of allegiance to the Republic of
the Philippines, resulting in his being issued a Certificate of Reacquisition of Philippine
Citizenship by the Bureau of Immigration. [1] On September 1, 2009 he renounced his
Australian citizenship, executing a sworn renunciation of the same [2] in compliance with
Republic Act (R.A.) 9225.[3]

From the time of his return, Jalosjos acquired a residential property in the same village where
he lived and a fishpond in San Isidro, Naga, Zamboanga Sibugay. He applied for registration
as a voter in the Municipality of Ipil but respondent Dan Erasmo, Sr., the Barangay Captain of
Barangay Veterans Village, opposed the same.Acting on the application, the Election
Registration Board approved it and included Jalosjos name in the Commission on Elections
(COMELECs) voters list for Precinct 0051F of Barangay Veterans Village, Ipil, Zamboanga
Sibugay.[4]

Undaunted, Erasmo filed before the 1 st Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) of Ipil-TungawanR.T. Lim in Ipil a petition for the exclusion of Jalosjos name from the official voters list. After
hearing, the MCTC rendered a decision, denying the petition. [5] On appeal,[6] the Regional
Trial Court (RTC) affirmed the MCTC decision.The RTC decision became final and executory.

On November 28, 2009 Jalosjos filed his Certificate of Candidacy (COC) for Governor of
Zamboanga Sibugay Province for the May 10, 2010 elections. Erasmo promptly filed a
petition to deny due course or to cancel Jalosjos COC [7] on the ground that the latter made
material misrepresentation in the same since he failed to comply with (1) the requirements
of R.A. 9225 and (2) the one-year residency requirement of the Local Government Code.

After hearing, the Second Division of the COMELEC ruled that, while Jalosjos had regained
Philippine citizenship by complying with the requirements of R.A. 9225, he failed to prove
the residency requirement for a gubernatorial candidate. He failed to present ample proof of
a bona fide intention to establish his domicile in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay. On motion for
reconsideration, the COMELEC En Banc affirmed the Second Divisions decision, ruling that
Jalosjos had been a mere guest or transient visitor in his brothers house and, for this reason,
he cannot claim Ipil as his domicile.

Acting on Jalosjos prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order, the Court
resolved on May 7, 2010 to issue a status quo ante order, enjoining the COMELEC from
enforcing its February 11, 2010 decision pending further orders. Meanwhile, Jolosjos won the
election

and

was

proclaimed

the Province of Zamboanga Sibugay.

winner

of

the

2010

gubernatorial

race

in

[8]

The Issue Presented

The sole issue presented in this case is whether or not the COMELEC acted with grave abuse
of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in ruling that Jalosjos failed to
present ample proof of a bona fide intention to establish his domicile in Ipil, Zamboanga
Sibugay.

The Courts Ruling

The Local Government Code requires a candidate seeking the position of provincial governor
to be a resident of the province for at least one year before the election. [9] For purposes of
the election laws, the requirement of residence is synonymous with domicile, [10] meaning
that a person must not only intend to reside in a particular place but must also have
personal presence in such place coupled with conduct indicative of such intention. [11]

There is no hard and fast rule to determine a candidates compliance with residency
requirement since the question of residence is a question of intention. [12] Still, jurisprudence
has laid down the following guidelines: (a) every person has a domicile or residence
somewhere; (b) where once established, that domicile remains until he acquires a new one;
and (c) a person can have but one domicile at a time.[13]

It is inevitable under these guidelines and the precedents applying them that Jalosjos has
met the residency requirement for provincial governor of Zamboanga Sibugay.

One. The COMELEC appears hasty in concluding that Jalosjos failed to prove that he
successfully changed his domicile to Zamboanga Sibugay. The COMELEC points out that,
since he was unable to discharge the burden of proving Zamboanga Sibugay to be his
rightful domicile, it must be assumed that his domicile is eitherQuezon City or Australia.

But it is clear from the facts that Quezon City was Jalosjos domicile of origin, the place of his
birth. It may be taken for granted that he effectively changed his domicile from Quezon City
to Australia when he migrated there at the age of eight, acquired Australian citizenship, and
lived in that country for 26 years. Australia became his domicile by operation of law and by
choice.[14]

On the other hand, when he came to the Philippines in November 2008 to live with
his brother in Zamboanga Sibugay, it is evident that Jalosjos did so with intent to change his
domicile for good. He left Australia, gave up his Australian citizenship, and renounced his
allegiance to that country. In addition, he reacquired his old citizenship by taking an oath of

allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines, resulting in his being issued a Certificate of
Reacquisition of Philippine Citizenship by the Bureau of Immigration. By his acts, Jalosjos
forfeited his legal right to live in Australia, clearly proving that he gave up his domicile
there. And he has since lived nowhere else except in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay.

To hold that Jalosjos has not establish a new domicile in Zamboanga Sibugay despite
the loss of his domicile of origin (Quezon City) and his domicile of choice and by operation of
law (Australia) would violate the settled maxim that a man must have a domicile or
residence somewhere.
Two. The COMELEC concluded that Jalosjos has not come to settle his domicile in Ipil
since he has merely been staying at his brothers house. But this circumstance alone cannot
support such conclusion. Indeed, the Court has repeatedly held that a candidate is not
required to have a house in a community to establish his residence or domicile in a
particular place. It is sufficient that he should live there even if it be in a rented house or in
the house of a friend or relative. [15] To insist that the candidate own the house where he lives
would make property a qualification for public office. What matters is that Jalosjos has
proved two things: actual physical presence in Ipil and an intention of making it his domicile.

Jalosjos presented the affidavits of next-door neighbors, attesting to his physical


presence at his residence in Ipil. These adjoining neighbors are no doubt more credible since
they have a better chance of noting his presence or absence than his other neighbors,
whose affidavits Erasmo presented, who just sporadically passed by the subject
residence. Further, it is not disputed that Jalosjos bought a residential lot in the same village
where he lived and a fish pond in San Isidro, Naga, Zamboanga Sibugay. He showed
correspondences with political leaders, including local and national party-mates, from where
he lived. Moreover, Jalosjos is a registered voter of Ipil by final judgment of the Regional Trial
Court of Zamboanga Sibugay.

Three. While the Court ordinarily respects the factual findings of administrative bodies like
the COMELEC, this does not prevent it from exercising its review powers to correct palpable
misappreciation of evidence or wrong or irrelevant considerations. [16] The evidence Jalosjos

presented is sufficient to establish Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay, as his domicile. The COMELEC
gravely abused its discretion in holding otherwise.

Four. Jalosjos won and was proclaimed winner in the 2010 gubernatorial race for
Zamboanga Sibugay. The Court will respect the decision of the people of that province and
resolve all doubts regarding his qualification in his favor to breathe life to their manifest will.

WHEREFORE, the Court GRANTS the petition and SETS ASIDE the Resolution of the
COMELEC Second Division dated February 11, 2010 and the Resolution of the COMELEC En
Banc dated May 4, 2010 that disqualified petitioner Rommel Jalosjos from seeking election
as Governor of Zamboanga Sibugay.

SO ORDERED.

RA 9189 OVERSEAS ABSENTEE VOTING ACT OF 2003


EN BANC

LOIDA
NICOLAS-LEWIS, GREGORIO
B.
MACABENTA, ALEJANDRO A. ESCLAMADO,
ARMANDO
B.
HEREDIA,
REUBEN
S.
SEGURITAN,
ERIC
LACHICA
FURBEYRE,
TERESITA
A.
CRUZ,
JOSEFINA
OPENA
DISTERHOFT, MERCEDES V. OPENA, CORNELIO
R. NATIVIDAD, EVELYN D. NATIVIDAD,

G.R. No. 162759

Petitioners,

PUNO,

Present:

PANGANIBAN, C.J.,

QUISUMBING,
YNARES-SANTIAGO,
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,
CARPIO,
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
- versus -

CORONA,
CARPIO-MORALES,
CALLEJO, SR.,
AZCUNA,
TINGA,
CHICO-NAZARIO,

COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS,

GARCIA, and

Respondent.

VELASCO, JR., JJ.

Promulgated:

August 4, 2006
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

DECISION

GARCIA, J.:

In this petition for certiorari and mandamus, petitioners, referring to themselves


as "duals" or dual citizens, pray that they and others who retained or reacquired Philippine
citizenship under Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9225, the Citizenship Retention and Re-Acquisition
Act of 2003, be allowed to avail themselves of the mechanism provided under the Overseas
Absentee Voting Act of 2003[1] (R.A. 9189) and that the Commission on Elections (COMELEC)
accordingly be ordered to allow them to vote and register as absentee voters under the
aegis of R.A. 9189.

The facts:

Petitioners are successful applicants for recognition of Philippine citizenship under R.A. 9225
which accords to such applicants the right of suffrage, among others. Long before the May
2004 national and local elections, petitioners sought registration and certification
as "overseas absentee voter" only to be advised by the Philippine Embassy in the United
States that, per a COMELEC letter to the Department of Foreign Affairs dated September 23,
2003[2], they have yet no right to vote in such elections owing to their lack of the one-year
residence requirement prescribed by the Constitution. The same letter, however, urged the
different Philippine posts abroad not to discontinue their campaign for voters registration, as
the residence restriction adverted to would contextually affect merely certain individuals
who would likely be eligible to vote in future elections.

Prodded for clarification by petitioner Loida Nicolas-Lewis in the light of the ruling
in Macalintal vs. COMELEC

[3]

on the residency requirement, the COMELEC wrote in response:

Although R.A. 9225 enjoys the presumption of constitutionality , it is the


Commission's position that those who have availed of the law cannot exercise
the right of suffrage given under the OAVL for the reason that the OAVL was
not enacted for them. Hence, as Filipinos who have merely re-acquired their
citizenship on 18 September 2003 at the earliest, and as law and
jurisprudence now stand, they are considered regular voters who have to
meet the requirements of residency, among others under Section 1, Article 5
of the Constitution. [4]

Faced with the prospect of not being able to vote in the May 2004 elections owing to
the COMELEC's refusal to include them in the National Registry of Absentee Voters,
petitioner Nicolas-Lewis et al.,

[5]

filed on April 1, 2004 this petition for certiorari and

mandamus.

A little over a week before the May 10, 2004 elections, or on April 30, 2004, the COMELEC
filed a Comment,[6] therein praying for the denial of the petition. As may be expected,
petitioners were not able to register let alone vote in said elections.

On May 20, 2004, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) filed a Manifestation (in Lieu of
Comment), therein stating that all qualified overseas Filipinos, including dual citizens who
care to exercise the right of suffrage, may do so , observing, however, that the conclusion of
the 2004 elections had rendered the petition moot and academic. [7]

The holding of the 2004 elections had, as the OSG pointed out, indeed rendered the petition
moot and academic, but insofar only as petitioners participation in such political exercise is
concerned.

The

broader

and

transcendental

issue

tendered

or

subsumed

in

the

petition, i.e., the propriety of allowing duals to participate and vote as absentee voter in
future elections, however, remains unresolved.

Observing the petitioners and the COMELECs respective formulations of the issues, the same
may be reduced into the question of whether or not petitioners and others who might have
meanwhile retained and/or reacquired Philippine citizenship pursuant to R.A. 9225 may vote
as absentee voter under R.A. 9189.
The Court resolves the poser in the affirmative, and thereby accords merit to the petition.

In esse, this case is all about suffrage. A quick look at the governing provisions on the right
of suffrage is, therefore, indicated.
We start off with Sections 1 and 2 of Article V of the Constitution, respectively reading as
follows:

SECTION 1. Suffrage may be exercised by all citizens of the Philippines not


otherwise disqualified by law, who are at least eighteen years of age, and who
shall have resided in the Philippinesfor at least one year and in the place
wherein they propose to vote for at least six months immediately preceding
the election. xxx.

SEC 2. The Congress shall provide a system for absentee voting by qualified
Filipinos abroad.

In a nutshell, the aforequoted Section 1 prescribes residency requirement as a general


eligibility factor for the right to vote. On the other hand, Section 2 authorizes Congress to
devise a system wherein an absentee may vote, implying that a non-resident may, as an
exception to the residency prescription in the preceding section, be allowed to vote.

In response to its above mandate, Congress enacted R.A. 9189 - the OAVL [8] - identifying in
its Section 4 who can vote under it and in the following section who cannot, as follows:

Section 4. Coverage. All citizens of the Philippines abroad, who are not
otherwise disqualified by law, at least eighteen (18) years of age on the day of

elections, may vote for president, vice-president, senators and party-list


representatives.
Section 5. Disqualifications. The following shall be disqualified from voting
under this Act:

(a) Those who have lost their Filipino citizenship in accordance with Philippine
laws;

(b) Those who have expressly renounced their Philippine citizenship and who
have pledged allegiance to a foreign country;

(c) Those who have [been] convicted in a final judgment by a court or tribunal
of an offense punishable by imprisonment of not less than one (1) year,
including those who have been found guilty of Disloyalty as defined under
Article 137 of the Revised Penal Code, .;

(d) An immigrant or a permanent resident who is recognized as such in the


host country, unless he/she executes, upon registration, an affidavit prepared
for the purpose by the Commission declaring that he/she shall resume actual
physical permanent residence in the Philippines not later than three (3) years
from approval of his/her registration under this Act. Such affidavit shall also
state that he/she has not applied for citizenship in another country. Failure to
return shall be the cause for the removal of the name of the immigrant or
permanent resident from the National Registry of Absentee Voters and his/her
permanent disqualification to vote in absentia.

(e)
Any citizen of the Philippines abroad previously declared
insane or incompetent by competent authority . (Words in bracket added.)

Notably, Section 5 lists those who cannot avail themselves of the absentee voting
mechanism. However, Section 5(d) of the enumeration respecting Filipino immigrants and
permanent residents in another country opens an exception and qualifies the disqualification
rule. Section 5(d) would, however, face a constitutional challenge on the ground that, as
narrated in Macalintal, it -

violates Section 1, Article V of the 1987 Constitution which requires that the
voter must be a resident in the Philippines for at least one year and in the
place where he proposes to vote for at least six months immediately
preceding an election. [The challenger] cites Caasi vs. Court of Appeals [9] to
support his claim [where] the Court held that a green card holder immigrant to
the [US] is deemed to have abandoned his domicile and residence in
the Philippines.

[The challenger] further argues that Section 1, Article V of the Constitution


does not allow provisional registration or a promise by a voter to perform a
condition to be qualified to vote in a political exercise; that the legislature
should not be allowed to circumvent the requirement of the Constitution on
the right of suffrage by providing a condition thereon which in effect amends
or alters the aforesaid residence requirement to qualify a Filipino abroad to
vote. He claims that the right of suffrage should not be granted to anyone
who, on the date of the election, does not possess the qualifications provided
for by Section 1, Article V of the Constitution.[10] (Words in bracket added.)

As may be recalled, the Court upheld the constitutionality of Section 5(d) of R.A. 9189 mainly
on the strength of the following premises:

As finally approved into law, Section 5(d) of R.A. No. 9189 specifically
disqualifies an immigrant or permanent resident who is recognized as such in
the host country because immigration or permanent residence in another
country implies renunciation of one's residence in his country of
origin. However, same Section allows an immigrant and permanent resident
abroad to register as voter for as long as he/she executes an affidavit to show
that he/she has not abandoned his domicile in pursuance of the constitutional
intent expressed in Sections 1 and 2 of Article V that allcitizens of the
Philippines not otherwise disqualified by law must be entitled to exercise the
right of suffrage and, that Congress must establish a system for absentee
voting; for otherwise, if actual, physical residence in the Philippines is
required, there is no sense for the framers of the Constitution to mandate
Congress to establish a system for absentee voting.

Contrary to the claim of [the challenger], the execution of the affidavit itself is
not the enabling or enfranchising act. The affidavit required in Section 5(d) is

not only proof of the intention of the immigrant or permanent resident to go


back and resume residency in the Philippines, but more significantly, it serves
as an explicit expression that he had not in fact abandoned his domicile of
origin. Thus, it is not correct to say that the execution of the affidavit under
Section 5(d) violates the Constitution that proscribes provisional registration
or a promise by a voter to perform a condition to be qualified to vote in a
political exercise. [11]

Soon after Section 5(d) of R.A. 9189 passed the test of constitutionality, Congress
enacted R.A. 9225 the relevant portion of which reads:

SEC. 2. Declaration of Policy. It is hereby declared the policy of the State that
all Philippine citizens who become citizens of another country shall be deemed
not to have lost their Philippine citizenship under the conditions of this Act.

SEC. 3. Retention of Philippine Citizenship. Any provision of law to the contrary


notwithstanding, natural-born citizens of the Philippines who have lost their
Philippine citizenship by reason of their naturalization as citizens of a foreign
country are hereby deemed to have re-acquired Philippine citizenship upon
taking the following oath of allegiance to the Republic:

xxx xxx xxx

Natural-born citizens of the Philippines who, after the effectivity of this Act,
become citizens of a foreign country shall retain their Philippine citizenship
upon taking the aforesaid oath.

SEC. 4. Derivative Citizenship. The unmarried child, whether legitimate,


illegitimate or adopted, below eighteen (18) years of age, of those who reacquire Philippine citizenship upon effectivity of this Act shall be deemed
citizens of the Philippines.

SEC. 5. Civil and Political Rights and Liabilities. Those who retain or re-acquire
Philippine citizenship under this Act shall enjoy full civil and political rights and

be subject to all attendant liabilities and responsibilities under existing laws of


the Philippines and the following conditions:

(1) Those intending to exercise their right of suffrage must meet the
requirements under Section 1, Article V of the Constitution, Republic
Act No. 9189, otherwise known as The Overseas Absentee Voting Act of
2003 and other existing laws;

(2) Those seeking elective public office in the Philippines shall meet the
qualifications for holding such public office as required by the
Constitution and existing laws and, at the time of the filing of the
certificate of candidacy, make a personal and sworn renunciation of
any and all foreign citizenship ;

3) xxx xxx xxx.

(4) xxx xxx xxx;

(5) That right to vote or be elected or appointed to any public office in


the Philippines cannot be exercised by, or extended to, those who:

(a) are candidates for or are occupying any public office in the
country of which they are naturalized citizens; and/or

(b) are in active service as commissioned or non-commissioned


officers in the armed forces of the country which they are
naturalized citizens.

After what appears to be a successful application for recognition of Philippine citizenship


under R.A. 9189, petitioners now invoke their right to enjoy political rights,specifically the
right of suffrage, pursuant to Section 5 thereof.

Opposing the petitioners bid, however, respondent COMELEC invites attention to the same
Section 5 (1) providing that duals can enjoy their right to vote, as an adjunct to political
rights, only if they meet the requirements of Section 1, Article V of the Constitution, R.A.
9189 and other existing laws. Capitalizing on what at first blush is the clashing provisions of
the aforecited provision of the Constitution, which, to repeat, requires residency in the
Philippines for a certain period, and R.A. 9189 which grants a Filipino non-resident absentee
voting rights,[12] COMELEC argues:

4. DUALS MUST FIRST


THE PHILIPPINES

ESTABLISH

THEIR

DOMICILE/

RESIDENCE

IN

4.01. The inclusion of such additional and specific requirements in RA


9225 is logical. The duals, upon renouncement of their Filipino
citizenship and acquisition of foreign citizenship, have
practically and legally abandoned their domicile and severed
their legal ties to the homeland as a consequence. Having
subsequently acquired a second citizenship (i.e., Filipino) then,
duals must, for purposes of voting, first of all, decisively and
definitely establish their domicile through positive acts; [13]

The Court disagrees.

As may be noted, there is no provision in the dual citizenship law - R.A. 9225 requiring "duals" to actually establish residence and physically stay in the Philippinesfirst
before they can exercise their right to vote. On the contrary, R.A. 9225, in implicit
acknowledgment that duals are most likely non-residents, grants under its Section 5(1) the
same right of suffrage as that granted an absentee voter under R.A. 9189. It cannot be
overemphasized that R.A. 9189 aims, in essence, to enfranchise as much as possible all
overseas Filipinos who, save for the residency requirements exacted of an ordinary voter
under ordinary conditions, are qualified to vote. Thus, wrote the Court in Macalintal:

It is clear from these discussions of the Constitutional Commission that [it]


intended to enfranchise as much as possible all Filipino citizens abroad who
have not abandoned their domicile of origin. The Commission even intended
to extend to young Filipinos who reach voting age abroad whose parents
domicile of origin is in the Philippines, and consider them qualified as voters
for the first time.

It is in pursuance of that intention that the Commission provided for Section 2


[Article V] immediately after the residency requirement of Section 1. By the
doctrine of necessary implication in statutory construction, , the strategic
location of Section 2 indicates that the Constitutional Commission provided for
an exception to the actual residency requirement of Section 1 with respect to
qualified Filipinos abroad. The same Commission has in effect declared that
qualified Filipinos who are not in the Philippines may be allowed to vote even
though they do not satisfy the residency requirement in Section 1, Article V of
the Constitution.

That Section 2 of Article V of the Constitution is an exception to the residency


requirement found in Section 1 of the same Article was in fact the subject of
debate when Senate Bill No. 2104, which became R.A. No. 9189, was
deliberated upon on the Senate floor, thus:

Senator Arroyo. Mr. President, this bill should be looked into in


relation to the constitutional provisions. I think the sponsor and
I would agree that the Constitution is supreme in any statute
that we may enact.

Let me read Section 1, Article V, of the Constitution .

xxx xxx xxx

Now, Mr. President, the Constitution says, who shall have


resided
in
the Philippines. They
are
permanent
immigrants. They have changed residence so they are barred
under the Constitution. This is why I asked whether this
committee amendment which in fact does not alter the original
text of the bill will have any effect on this?

Senator Angara. Good question, Mr. President. And this has


been asked in various fora. This is in compliance with the
Constitution. One, the interpretation here of residence is
synonymous with domicile.

As the gentleman and I know, Mr. President, domicile is the


intent to return to one's home. And the fact that a Filipino
may have been physically absent from the Philippines
and may be physically a resident of the United States,
for example, but has a clear intent to return to the
Philippines, will make him qualified as a resident of the
Philippines under this law.

This is consistent, Mr. President, with the constitutional mandate


that we that Congress must provide a franchise to overseas
Filipinos.

If we read the Constitution and the suffrage principle


literally as demanding physical presence, then there is
no way we can provide for offshore voting to our
offshore kababayan, Mr. President.

Senator Arroyo. Mr. President, when the Constitution says, in


Section 2 of Article V, it reads: The Congress shall provide a
system for securing the secrecy and sanctity of the ballot as
well as a system for absentee voting by qualified Filipinos
abroad.

The key to this whole exercise, Mr. President, is


qualified. In other words, anything that we may do or
say in granting our compatriots abroad must be
anchored
on
the
proposition
that
they
are
qualified. Absent
the
qualification,
they
cannot
vote. And residents (sic) is a qualification.

xxx xxx xxx

Look at what the Constitution says In the place wherein they


propose to vote for at least six months immediately preceding
the election.

Mr. President, all of us here have run (sic) for office.

I live in Makati. My neighbor is Pateros . We are separated only


by a creek. But one who votes in Makati cannot vote in Pateros
unless he resides in Pateros for six months.That is how
restrictive our Constitution is. .

As I have said, if a voter in Makati would want to vote in


Pateros, yes, he may do so. But he must do so, make the
transfer six months before the election, otherwise, he is not
qualified to vote.

xxx xxx xxx

Senator Angara. It is a good point to raise, Mr. President. But it


is a point already well-debated even in the constitutional
commission of 1986. And the reason Section 2 of Article V
was placed immediately after the six-month/one-year
residency requirement is to demonstrate unmistakably
that Section 2 which authorizes absentee voting is an
exception
to
the
six-month/one-year
residency
requirement. That is the first principle, Mr. President, that one
must remember.

The second reason, Mr. President, is that under our


jurisprudence residency has been interpreted as synonymous
with domicile.

But the third more practical


reason,
is,
if
we follow the interpretation of the gentleman, then it is
legally and constitutionally impossible to give a
franchise to vote to overseas Filipinos who do not
physically live in the country, which is quite ridiculous
because that is exactly the whole point of this exercise

to
enfranchise
them
and
empower
them
to
vote. [14] (Emphasis and words in bracket added; citations
omitted)

Lest it be overlooked, no less than the COMELEC itself admits that the Citizenship Retention
and Re-Acquisition Act expanded the coverage of overseas absentee voting. According to
the poll body:

1.05 With the passage of RA 9225 the scope of overseas absentee voting has
been consequently expanded so as to include Filipinos who are also citizens of
other countries, subject, however, to the strict prerequisites indicated in the
pertinent provisions of RA 9225; [15]

Considering the unison intent of the Constitution and R.A. 9189 and the expansion of the
scope of that law with the passage of R.A. 9225, the irresistible conclusion is that "duals"
may now exercise the right of suffrage thru the absentee voting scheme and as overseas
absentee voters. R.A. 9189 defines the terms adverted to in the following wise:

Absentee Voting refers to the process by which qualified citizens of


the Philippines abroad exercise their right to vote;
Overseas Absentee Voter refers to a citizen of the Philippines who is qualified
to register and vote under this Act, not otherwise disqualified by law, who is
abroad on the day of elections;

While perhaps not determinative of the issue tendered herein, we note that the expanded
thrust of R.A. 9189 extends also to what might be tag as the next generation of "duals". This
may be deduced from the inclusion of the provision on derivative citizenship in R.A. 9225
which reads:

SEC. 4. Derivative Citizenship. The unmarried child, whether legitimate,


illegitimate or adopted, below eighteen (18) years of age, of those who reacquire Philippine citizenship upon effectivity of this Act shall be deemed
citizens of the Philippines.

It is very likely that a considerable number of those unmarried children below eighteen (18)
years of age had never set foot in the Philippines. Now then, if the next generation of "duals"
may nonetheless avail themselves the right to enjoy full civil and political rights under
Section 5 of the Act, then there is neither no rhyme nor reason why the petitioners and other
present day "duals," provided they meet the requirements under Section 1, Article V of the
Constitution in relation to R.A. 9189, be denied the right of suffrage as an overseas absentee
voter. Congress could not have plausibly intended such absurd situation.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. Accordingly, the Court rules and so holds
that those who retain or re-acquire Philippine citizenship underRepublic Act No. 9225,
the Citizenship Retention and Re-Acquisition Act of 2003, may exercise the right to vote
under the system of absentee voting in Republic Act No. 9189, the Overseas Absentee
Voting Act of 2003.
SO ORDERED.

RENVOI
FIRST DIVISION
[G.R. No. 124371. November 23, 2000]
PAULA T. LLORENTE, petitioner,
LLORENTE, respondents.

vs. COURT

DECISION
PARDO, J.:
The Case

OF

APPEALS

and

ALICIA

F.

The case raises a conflict of laws issue.


What is before us is an appeal from the decision of the Court of Appeals [1] modifying that
of the Regional Trial Court, Camarines Sur, Branch 35, Iriga City [2] declaring respondent Alicia
F. Llorente (herinafter referred to as Alicia), as co-owners of whatever property she and the
deceased Lorenzo N. Llorente (hereinafter referred to as Lorenzo) may have acquired during
the twenty-five (25) years that they lived together as husband and wife.
The Facts
The deceased Lorenzo N. Llorente was an enlisted serviceman of the United States Navy
from March 10, 1927 to September 30, 1957.[3]
On February 22, 1937, Lorenzo and petitioner Paula Llorente (hereinafter referred to as
Paula) were married before a parish priest, Roman Catholic Church, in Nabua, Camarines Sur.
[4]

Before the outbreak of the Pacific War, Lorenzo departed for the United States and Paula
stayed in the conjugal home in barrio Antipolo, Nabua, Camarines Sur. [5]
On November 30, 1943, Lorenzo was admitted to United States citizenship and
Certificate of Naturalization No. 5579816 was issued in his favor by the United States District
Court, Southern District of New York.[6]
Upon the liberation of the Philippines by the American Forces in 1945, Lorenzo was
granted an accrued leave by the U. S. Navy, to visit his wife and he visited the Philippines.
[7]
He discovered that his wife Paula was pregnant and was living in and having an adulterous
relationship with his brother, Ceferino Llorente.[8]
On December 4, 1945, Paula gave birth to a boy registered in the Office of the Registrar
of Nabua as Crisologo Llorente, with the certificate stating that the child was not legitimate
and the line for the fathers name was left blank.[9]
Lorenzo refused to forgive Paula and live with her. In fact, on February 2, 1946, the
couple drew a written agreement to the effect that (1) all the family allowances allotted by
the United States Navy as part of Lorenzos salary and all other obligations for Paulas daily
maintenance and support would be suspended; (2) they would dissolve their marital union in
accordance with judicial proceedings; (3) they would make a separate agreement regarding
their conjugal property acquired during their marital life; and (4) Lorenzo would not
prosecute Paula for her adulterous act since she voluntarily admitted her fault and agreed to
separate from Lorenzo peacefully. The agreement was signed by both Lorenzo and Paula and
was witnessed by Paulas father and stepmother. The agreement was notarized by Notary
Public Pedro Osabel.[10]
Lorenzo returned to the
divorce with the Superior Court
Diego. Paula was represented
proceedings. On November 27,

United States and on November 16, 1951 filed for


of the State of California in and for the County of San
by counsel, John Riley, and actively participated in the
1951, the Superior Court of the State of California, for the

County of San Diego found all factual allegations to be true and issued an interlocutory
judgment of divorce.[11]
On December 4, 1952, the divorce decree became final. [12]
In the meantime, Lorenzo returned to the Philippines.
On January 16, 1958, Lorenzo married Alicia F. Llorente in Manila. [13] Apparently, Alicia
had no knowledge of the first marriage even if they resided in the same town as Paula, who
did not oppose the marriage or cohabitation.[14]
From 1958 to 1985, Lorenzo and Alicia lived together as husband and wife. [15] Their
twenty-five (25) year union produced three children, Raul, Luz and Beverly, all surnamed
Llorente.[16]
On March 13, 1981, Lorenzo executed a Last Will and Testament. The will was notarized
by Notary Public Salvador M. Occiano, duly signed by Lorenzo with attesting witnesses
Francisco Hugo, Francisco Neibres and Tito Trajano. In the will, Lorenzo bequeathed all his
property to Alicia and their three children, to wit:
(1) I give and bequeath to my wife ALICIA R. FORTUNO exclusively my residential house and
lot, located at San Francisco, Nabua, Camarines Sur, Philippines, including ALL the personal
properties and other movables or belongings that may be found or existing therein;
(2) I give and bequeath exclusively to my wife Alicia R. Fortuno and to my children, Raul F.
Llorente, Luz F. Llorente and Beverly F. Llorente, in equal shares, all my real properties
whatsoever and wheresoever located, specifically my real properties located at Barangay
Aro-Aldao, Nabua, Camarines Sur; Barangay Paloyon, Nabua, Camarines Sur; Barangay
Baras, Sitio Puga, Nabua, Camarines Sur; and Barangay Paloyon, Sitio Nalilidong, Nabua,
Camarines Sur;
(3) I likewise give and bequeath exclusively unto my wife Alicia R. Fortuno and unto my
children, Raul F. Llorente, Luz F. Llorente and Beverly F. Llorente, in equal shares, my real
properties located in Quezon City Philippines, and covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No.
188652; and my lands in Antipolo, Rizal, Philippines, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title
Nos. 124196 and 165188, both of the Registry of Deeds of the province of Rizal, Philippines;
(4) That their respective shares in the above-mentioned properties, whether real or personal
properties, shall not be disposed of, ceded, sold and conveyed to any other persons, but
could only be sold, ceded, conveyed and disposed of by and among themselves;
(5) I designate my wife ALICIA R. FORTUNO to be the sole executor of this my Last Will and
Testament, and in her default or incapacity of the latter to act, any of my children in the
order of age, if of age;
(6) I hereby direct that the executor named herein or her lawful substitute should served
(sic) without bond;

(7) I hereby revoke any and all my other wills, codicils, or testamentary dispositions
heretofore executed, signed, or published, by me;
(8) It is my final wish and desire that if I die, no relatives of mine in any degree in the
Llorentes Side should ever bother and disturb in any manner whatsoever my wife Alicia R.
Fortunato and my children with respect to any real or personal properties I gave and
bequeathed respectively to each one of them by virtue of this Last Will and Testament. [17]
On December 14, 1983, Lorenzo filed with the Regional Trial Court, Iriga, Camarines Sur,
a petition for the probate and allowance of his last will and testament wherein Lorenzo
moved that Alicia be appointed Special Administratrix of his estate. [18]
On January 18, 1984, the trial court denied the motion for the reason that the testator
Lorenzo was still alive.[19]
On January 24, 1984, finding that the will was duly executed, the trial court admitted the
will to probate.[20]
On June 11, 1985, before the proceedings could be terminated, Lorenzo died. [21]
On September 4, 1985, Paula filed with the same court a petition [22] for letters of
administration over Lorenzos estate in her favor. Paula contended (1) that she was Lorenzos
surviving spouse, (2) that the various property were acquired during their marriage, (3) that
Lorenzos will disposed of all his property in favor of Alicia and her children, encroaching on
her legitime and 1/2 share in the conjugal property. [23]
On December 13, 1985, Alicia filed in the testate proceeding (Sp. Proc. No. IR-755), a
petition for the issuance of letters testamentary.[24]
On October 14, 1985, without terminating the testate proceedings, the trial court gave
due course to Paulas petition in Sp. Proc. No. IR-888.[25]
On November 6, 13 and 20, 1985, the order was published in the newspaper Bicol Star.
[26]

On May 18, 1987, the Regional Trial Court issued a joint decision, thus:
Wherefore, considering that this court has so found that the divorce decree granted to the
late Lorenzo Llorente is void and inapplicable in the Philippines, therefore the marriage he
contracted with Alicia Fortunato on January 16, 1958 at Manila is likewise void. This being so
the petition of Alicia F. Llorente for the issuance of letters testamentary is denied.Likewise,
she is not entitled to receive any share from the estate even if the will especially said so her
relationship with Lorenzo having gained the status of paramour which is under Art. 739 (1).
On the other hand, the court finds the petition of Paula Titular Llorente, meritorious, and so
declares the intrinsic disposition of the will of Lorenzo Llorente dated March 13, 1981 as void
and declares her entitled as conjugal partner and entitled to one-half of their conjugal
properties, and as primary compulsory heir, Paula T. Llorente is also entitled to one-third of

the estate and then one-third should go to the illegitimate children, Raul, Luz and Beverly, all
surname (sic) Llorente, for them to partition in equal shares and also entitled to the
remaining free portion in equal shares.
Petitioner, Paula Llorente is appointed legal administrator of the estate of the deceased,
Lorenzo Llorente. As such let the corresponding letters of administration issue in her favor
upon her filing a bond in the amount (sic) of P100,000.00 conditioned for her to make a
return to the court within three (3) months a true and complete inventory of all goods,
chattels, rights, and credits, and estate which shall at any time come to her possession or to
the possession of any other person for her, and from the proceeds to pay and discharge all
debts, legacies and charges on the same, or such dividends thereon as shall be decreed or
required by this court; to render a true and just account of her administration to the court
within one (1) year, and at any other time when required by the court and to perform all
orders of this court by her to be performed.
On the other matters prayed for in respective petitions for want of evidence could not be
granted.
SO ORDERED.[27]
In time, Alicia filed with the trial court a motion for reconsideration of the aforequoted
decision.[28]
On September 14, 1987, the trial court denied Alicias motion for reconsideration but
modified its earlier decision, stating that Raul and Luz Llorente are not children legitimate or
otherwise of Lorenzo since they were not legally adopted by him. [29] Amending its decision of
May 18, 1987, the trial court declared Beverly Llorente as the only illegitimate child of
Lorenzo, entitling her to one-third (1/3) of the estate and one-third (1/3) of the free portion of
the estate.[30]
On September 28, 1987, respondent appealed to the Court of Appeals. [31]
On July 31, 1995, the Court of Appeals promulgated its decision, affirming with
modification the decision of the trial court in this wise:
WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is hereby AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that
Alicia is declared as co-owner of whatever properties she and the deceased may have
acquired during the twenty-five (25) years of cohabitation.
SO ORDERED.[32]
On August 25, 1995, petitioner filed with the Court of Appeals a motion for
reconsideration of the decision.[33]
On March 21, 1996, the Court of Appeals,[34] denied the motion for lack of merit.
Hence, this petition.[35]

The Issue

[36]

Stripping the petition of its legalese and sorting through the various arguments raised,
the issue is simple. Who are entitled to inherit from the late Lorenzo N. Llorente?

We do not agree with the decision of the Court of Appeals. We remand the case to the
trial court for ruling on the intrinsic validity of the will of the deceased.
The Applicable Law
The fact that the late Lorenzo N. Llorente became an American citizen long before and
at the time of: (1) his divorce from Paula; (2) marriage to Alicia; (3) execution of his will; and
(4) death, is duly established, admitted and undisputed.
Thus, as a rule, issues arising from these incidents are necessarily governed by foreign
law.
The Civil Code clearly provides:
Art. 15. Laws relating to family rights and duties, or to the status, condition and legal
capacity of persons are binding upon citizens of the Philippines, even though living
abroad.
Art. 16. Real property as well as personal property is subject to the law of the country where
it is situated.
However, intestate and testamentary succession, both with respect to the order of
succession and to the amount of successional rights and to the intrinsic validity of
testamentary provisions, shall be regulated by the national law of the person whose
succession is under consideration, whatever may be the nature of the property and
regardless of the country wherein said property may be found. (emphasis ours)
True, foreign laws do not prove themselves in our jurisdiction and our courts are not
authorized to take judicial notice of them. Like any other fact, they must be alleged and
proved.[37]
While the substance of the foreign law was pleaded, the Court of Appeals did not admit
the foreign law. The Court of Appeals and the trial court called to the fore the renvoidoctrine,
where the case was referred back to the law of the decedents domicile, in this case,
Philippine law.
We note that while the trial court stated that the law of New York was not sufficiently
proven, in the same breath it made the categorical, albeit equally unproven statement that
American law follows the domiciliary theory hence, Philippine law applies when determining
the validity of Lorenzos will.[38]
First, there is no such thing as one American law. The "national law" indicated in Article
16 of the Civil Code cannot possibly apply to general American law. There is no such law

governing the validity of testamentary provisions in the United States. Each State of the
union has its own law applicable to its citizens and in force only within the State. It can
therefore refer to no other than the law of the State of which the decedent was a resident.
[39]
Second, there is no showing that the application of the renvoi doctrine is called for or
required by New York State law.
The trial court held that the will was intrinsically invalid since it contained dispositions in
favor of Alice, who in the trial courts opinion was a mere paramour. The trial court threw the
will out, leaving Alice, and her two children, Raul and Luz, with nothing.
The Court of Appeals also disregarded the will. It declared Alice entitled to one half (1/2)
of whatever property she and Lorenzo acquired during their cohabitation, applying Article
144 of the Civil Code of the Philippines.
The hasty application of Philippine law and the complete disregard of the will, already
probated as duly executed in accordance with the formalities of Philippine law, is
fatal,especially in light of the factual and legal circumstances here obtaining.
Validity of the Foreign Divorce
In Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr.[40] we held that owing to the nationality principle embodied in
Article 15 of the Civil Code, only Philippine nationals are covered by the policy against
absolute divorces, the same being considered contrary to our concept of public policy and
morality. In the same case, the Court ruled that aliens may obtain divorces abroad, provided
they are valid according to their national law.
Citing this landmark case, the Court held in Quita v. Court of Appeals,[41] that once
proven that respondent was no longer a Filipino citizen when he obtained the divorce from
petitioner, the ruling in Van Dorn would become applicable and petitioner could very well
lose her right to inherit from him.
In Pilapil v. Ibay-Somera,[42] we recognized the divorce obtained by the respondent in his
country, the Federal Republic of Germany. There, we stated that divorce and its legal effects
may be recognized in the Philippines insofar as respondent is concerned in view of the
nationality principle in our civil law on the status of persons.
For failing to apply these doctrines, the decision of the Court of Appeals must be
reversed.[43] We hold that the divorce obtained by Lorenzo H. Llorente from his first wife
Paula was valid and recognized in this jurisdiction as a matter of comity. Now, the effects of
this divorce (as to the succession to the estate of the decedent) are matters best left to the
determination of the trial court.
Validity of the Will
The Civil Code provides:
Art. 17. The forms and solemnities of contracts, wills, and other public instruments shall
be governed by the laws of the country in which they are executed.

When the acts referred to are executed before the diplomatic or consular officials of the
Republic of the Philippines in a foreign country, the solemnities established by Philippine
laws shall be observed in their execution. (underscoring ours)
The clear intent of Lorenzo to bequeath his property to his second wife and children by
her is glaringly shown in the will he executed. We do not wish to frustrate his wishes, since
he was a foreigner, not covered by our laws on family rights and duties, status, condition
and legal capacity.[44]
Whether the will is intrinsically valid and who shall inherit from Lorenzo are issues best
proved by foreign law which must be pleaded and proved. Whether the will was executed in
accordance with the formalities required is answered by referring to Philippine law. In fact,
the will was duly probated.
As a guide however, the trial court should note that whatever public policy or good
customs may be involved in our system of legitimes, Congress did not intend to extend the
same to the succession of foreign nationals. Congress specifically left the amount of
successional rights to the decedent's national law.[45]
Having thus ruled, we find it unnecessary to pass upon the other issues raised.
The Fallo
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G. R.
SP No. 17446 promulgated on July 31, 1995 is SET ASIDE.
In lieu thereof, the Court REVERSES the decision of the Regional Trial Court and
RECOGNIZES as VALID the decree of divorce granted in favor of the deceased Lorenzo N.
Llorente by the Superior Court of the State of California in and for the County of San Diego,
made final on December 4, 1952.
Further, the Court REMANDS the cases to the court of origin for determination of the
intrinsic validity of Lorenzo N. Llorentes will and determination of the parties successional
rights allowing proof of foreign law with instructions that the trial court shall proceed with all
deliberate dispatch to settle the estate of the deceased within the framework of the Rules of
Court.
No costs.
SO ORDERED.

DOMESTIC ADOPTION ACT OF 1998 RA 8552


FIRST DIVISION
IN RE: PETITION FOR G.R. Nos. 168992-93

ADOPTION OF MICHELLE P.
LIM, Present:
MONINA P. LIM, PUNO, C.J., Chairperson,
Petitioner. CARPIO,
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x CORONA,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, and
IN RE: PETITION FOR BERSAMIN, JJ.
ADOPTION OF MICHAEL JUDE
P. LIM,
Promulgated:
MONINA P. LIM,
Petitioner. May 21, 2009
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

DECISION
CARPIO, J.:
The Case
This is a petition for review on certiorari filed by Monina P. Lim (petitioner) seeking to set
aside the Decision[1] dated 15 September 2004 of the Regional Trial Court, General Santos
City, Branch 22 (trial court), in SPL. PROC. Case Nos. 1258 and 1259, which dismissed
without prejudice the consolidated petitions for adoption of Michelle P. Lim and Michael Jude
P. Lim.

The Facts
The following facts are undisputed. Petitioner is an optometrist by profession. On 23 June
1974, she married Primo Lim (Lim). They were childless. Minor children, whose parents were
unknown, were entrusted to them by a certain Lucia Ayuban (Ayuban). Being so eager to
have a child of their own, petitioner and Lim registered the children to make it appear that
they were the childrens parents. The children [2] were named Michelle P. Lim (Michelle) and
Michael Jude P. Lim (Michael). Michelle was barely eleven days old when brought to the clinic
of petitioner. She was born on 15 March 1977. [3] Michael was 11 days old when Ayuban
brought him to petitioners clinic. His date of birth is 1 August 1983. [4]
The spouses reared and cared for the children as if they were their own. They sent the
children to exclusive schools. They used the surname Lim in all their school records and

documents. Unfortunately, on 28 November 1998, Lim died. On 27 December 2000,


petitioner married Angel Olario (Olario), an American citizen.
Thereafter, petitioner decided to adopt the children by availing of the amnesty [5] given under
Republic Act No. 8552[6] (RA 8552) to those individuals who simulated the birth of a child.
Thus, on 24 April 2002, petitioner filed separate petitions for the adoption of Michelle and
Michael before the trial court docketed as SPL PROC. Case Nos. 1258 and 1259, respectively.
At the time of the filing of the petitions for adoption, Michelle was 25 years old and already
married, while Michael was 18 years and seven months old.
Michelle and her husband gave their consent to the adoption as evidenced by their Affidavits
of Consent.[7] Michael also gave his consent to his adoption as shown in his Affidavit of
Consent.[8] Petitioners husband Olario likewise executed an Affidavit of Consent [9] for the
adoption of Michelle and Michael.
In the Certification issued by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD),
Michelle was considered as an abandoned child and the whereabouts of her natural parents
were unknown.[10] The DSWD issued a similar Certification for Michael.[11]
The Ruling of the Trial Court
On 15 September 2004, the trial court rendered judgment dismissing the petitions. The trial
court ruled that since petitioner had remarried, petitioner should have filed the petition
jointly with her new husband. The trial court ruled that joint adoption by the husband and
the wife is mandatory citing Section 7(c), Article III of RA 8552 and Article 185 of the Family
Code.
Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the decision but the motion was denied in the
Order dated 16 June 2005. In denying the motion, the trial court ruled that petitioner did not
fall under any of the exceptions under Section 7(c), Article III of RA 8552. Petitioners
argument that mere consent of her husband would suffice was untenable because, under
the law, there are additional requirements, such as residency and certification of his
qualification, which the husband, who was not even made a party in this case, must comply.
As to the argument that the adoptees are already emancipated and joint adoption is merely
for the joint exercise of parental authority, the trial court ruled that joint adoption is not only

for the purpose of exercising parental authority because an emancipated child acquires
certain rights from his parents and assumes certain obligations and responsibilities.
Hence, the present petition.

Issue
Petitioner appealed directly to this Court raising the sole issue of whether or not petitioner,
who has remarried, can singly adopt.

The Courts Ruling


Petitioner contends that the rule on joint adoption must be relaxed because it is the duty of
the court and the State to protect the paramount interest and welfare of the child to be
adopted. Petitioner argues that the legal maxim dura lex sed lex is not applicable to
adoption cases. She argues that joint parental authority is not necessary in this case since,
at the time the petitions were filed, Michelle was 25 years old and already married, while
Michael was already 18 years of age. Parental authority is not anymore necessary since they
have been emancipated having attained the age of majority.
We deny the petition.
Joint Adoption by Husband and Wife
It is undisputed that, at the time the petitions for adoption were filed, petitioner had already
remarried. She filed the petitions by herself, without being joined by her husband Olario. We
have no other recourse but to affirm the trial courts decision denying the petitions for
adoption. Dura lex sed lex. The law is explicit. Section 7, Article III of RA 8552 reads:
SEC. 7. Who May Adopt. - The following may adopt:
(a) Any Filipino citizen of legal age, in possession of full civil capacity and legal
rights, of good moral character, has not been convicted of any crime involving
moral turpitude, emotionally and psychologically capable of caring for
children, at least sixteen (16) years older than the adoptee, and who is in a
position to support and care for his/her children in keeping with the means of
the family. The requirement of sixteen (16) year difference between the age of

the adopter and adoptee may be waived when the adopter is the biological
parent of the adoptee, or is the spouse of the adoptees parent;
(b) Any alien possessing the same qualifications as above stated for Filipino
nationals: Provided, That his/her country has diplomatic relations with the
Republic of the Philippines, that he/she has been living in the Philippines for at
least three (3) continuous years prior to the filing of the application for
adoption and maintains such residence until the adoption decree is entered,
that he/she has been certified by his/her diplomatic or consular office or any
appropriate government agency that he/she has the legal capacity to adopt in
his/her country, and that his/her government allows the adoptee to enter
his/her country as his/her adopted son/daughter: Provided, further, That the
requirements on residency and certification of the aliens qualification to adopt
in his/her country may be waived for the following:
(i) a former Filipino citizen who seeks to adopt a relative within the
fourth (4th) degree of consanguinity or affinity; or
(ii) one who seeks to adopt the legitimate son/daughter of his/her
Filipino spouse; or
(iii) one who is married to a Filipino citizen and seeks to adopt jointly
with his/her spouse a relative within the fourth (4 th) degree of
consanguinity or affinity of the Filipino spouses; or
(c) The guardian with respect to the ward after the termination of the
guardianship and clearance of his/her financial accountabilities.
Husband and wife shall jointly adopt, except in the following cases:
(i) if one spouse seeks to adopt the legitimate son/daughter of the
other; or
(ii) if one spouse seeks to adopt his/her own illegitimate
son/daughter: Provided, however, That the other spouse has signified
his/her consent thereto; or
(iii) if the spouses are legally separated from each other.
In case husband and wife jointly adopt, or one spouse adopts the illegitimate
son/daughter of the other, joint parental authority shall be exercised by the
spouses. (Emphasis supplied)

The use of the word shall in the above-quoted provision means that joint adoption by the
husband and the wife is mandatory. This is in consonance with the concept of joint parental
authority over the child which is the ideal situation. As the child to be adopted is elevated to
the level of a legitimate child, it is but natural to require the spouses to adopt jointly. The
rule also insures harmony between the spouses.[12]
The law is clear. There is no room for ambiguity. Petitioner, having remarried at the time the
petitions for adoption were filed, must jointly adopt. Since the petitions for adoption were

filed only by petitioner herself, without joining her husband, Olario, the trial court was
correct in denying the petitions for adoption on this ground.
Neither does petitioner fall under any of the three exceptions enumerated in Section 7. First,
the children to be adopted are not the legitimate children of petitioner or of her husband
Olario. Second, the children are not the illegitimate children of petitioner. And third,
petitioner and Olario are not legally separated from each other.
The fact that Olario gave his consent to the adoption as shown in his Affidavit of Consent
does not suffice. There are certain requirements that Olario must comply being an American
citizen. He must meet the qualifications set forth in Section 7 of RA 8552 such as: (1) he
must prove that his country has diplomatic relations with the Republic of the Philippines; (2)
he must have been living in the Philippines for at least three continuous years prior to the
filing of the application for adoption; (3) he must maintain such residency until the adoption
decree is entered; (4) he has legal capacity to adopt in his own country; and (5) the adoptee
is allowed to enter the adopters country as the latters adopted child. None of these
qualifications were shown and proved during the trial.
These requirements on residency and certification of the aliens qualification to adopt cannot
likewise be waived pursuant to Section 7. The children or adoptees are not relatives within
the fourth degree of consanguinity or affinity of petitioner or of Olario. Neither are the
adoptees the legitimate children of petitioner.

Effects of Adoption
Petitioner contends that joint parental authority is not anymore necessary since the children
have been emancipated having reached the age of majority. This is untenable.
Parental authority includes caring for and rearing the children for civic consciousness and
efficiency and the development of their moral, mental and physical character and wellbeing.[13] The father and the mother shall jointly exercise parental authority over the persons
of their common children.[14] Even the remarriage of the surviving parent shall not affect the
parental authority over the children, unless the court appoints another person to be the
guardian of the person or property of the children. [15]

It is true that when the child reaches the age of emancipation that is, when he attains the
age of majority or 18 years of age [16] emancipation terminates parental authority over the
person and property of the child, who shall then be qualified and responsible for all acts of
civil life.[17] However, parental authority is merely just one of the effects of legal adoption.
Article V of RA 8552 enumerates the effects of adoption, thus:
ARTICLE V
EFFECTS OF ADOPTION
SEC. 16. Parental Authority. - Except in cases where the biological parent is
the spouse of the adopter, all legal ties between the biological parent(s) and
the adoptee shall be severed and the same shall then be vested on the
adopter(s).
SEC. 17. Legitimacy. - The adoptee shall be considered the legitimate
son/daughter of the adopter(s) for all intents and purposes and as such is
entitled to all the rights and obligations provided by law to legitimate
sons/daughters born to them without discrimination of any kind. To this end,
the adoptee is entitled to love, guidance, and support in keeping with the
means of the family.
SEC. 18. Succession. - In legal and intestate succession, the adopter(s) and
the adoptee shall have reciprocal rights of succession without distinction from
legitimate filiation. However, if the adoptee and his/her biological parent(s)
had left a will, the law on testamentary succession shall govern.
Adoption has, thus, the following effects: (1) sever all legal ties between the biological
parent(s) and the adoptee, except when the biological parent is the spouse of the adopter;
(2) deem the adoptee as a legitimate child of the adopter; and (3) give adopter and adoptee
reciprocal rights and obligations arising from the relationship of parent and child, including
but not limited to: (i) the right of the adopter to choose the name the child is to be known;
and (ii) the right of the adopter and adoptee to be legal and compulsory heirs of each other.
[18]

Therefore, even if emancipation terminates parental authority, the adoptee is still

considered a legitimate child of the adopter with all the rights[19] of a legitimate child such
as: (1) to bear the surname of the father and the mother; (2) to receive support from their
parents; and (3) to be entitled to the legitime and other successional rights. Conversely, the
adoptive parents shall, with respect to the adopted child, enjoy all the benefits to which
biological parents are entitled[20] such as support[21] and successional rights.[22]
We are mindful of the fact that adoption statutes, being humane and salutary, hold the
interests and welfare of the child to be of paramount consideration. They are designed to
provide homes, parental care and education for unfortunate, needy or orphaned children
and give them the protection of society and family, as well as to allow childless couples or
persons to experience the joys of parenthood and give them legally a child in the person of
the adopted for the manifestation of their natural parental instincts. Every reasonable

intendment should be sustained to promote and fulfill these noble and compassionate
objectives of the law.[23] But, as we have ruled in Republic v. Vergara:[24]
We are not unmindful of the main purpose of adoption statutes, which is the
promotion of the welfare of the children. Accordingly, the law should be
construed liberally, in a manner that will sustain rather than defeat said
purpose. The law must also be applied with compassion, understanding and
less severity in view of the fact that it is intended to provide homes, love, care
and education for less fortunate children. Regrettably, the Court is not in a
position to affirm the trial courts decision favoring adoption in the case at
bar, for the law is clear and it cannot be modified without violating
the proscription against judicial legislation. Until such time however,
that the law on the matter is amended, we cannot sustain the respondentspouses petition for adoption. (Emphasis supplied)
Petitioner, being married at the time the petitions for adoption were filed, should have jointly
filed the petitions with her husband. We cannot make our own legislation to suit petitioner.
Petitioner, in her Memorandum, insists that subsequent events would show that joint
adoption could no longer be possible because Olario has filed a case for dissolution of his
marriage to petitioner in the Los Angeles Superior Court.
We disagree. The filing of a case for dissolution of the marriage between petitioner and
Olario is of no moment. It is not equivalent to a decree of dissolution of marriage. Until and
unless there is a judicial decree for the dissolution of the marriage between petitioner and
Olario, the marriage still subsists. That being the case, joint adoption by the husband and
the wife is required. We reiterate our ruling above that since, at the time the petitions for
adoption were filed, petitioner was married to Olario, joint adoption is mandatory.

WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition. We AFFIRM the Decision dated 15 September 2004
of the Regional Trial Court, General Santos City, Branch 22 in SPL. PROC. Case Nos. 1258 and
1259. Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
INTER COUNTRY ADOPTION LAW RA 8043

ANNULMENT, DECLARATION OF NULLITY OF MARRIAGE


SECOND DIVISION

ALAIN M. DIO , G.R. No. 178044


Petitioner,
Present:

CARPIO, J., Chairperson,


- versus - NACHURA,
PERALTA,
ABAD, and
MENDOZA, JJ.
MA. CARIDAD L. DIO, Promulgated:
Respondent. January 19, 2011
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x

DECISION

CARPIO, J.:

The Case

Before the Court is a petition for review1 assailing the 18 October 2006 Decision2 and the 12
March 2007 Order3 of the Regional Trial Court of Las Pias City, Branch 254 (trial court) in Civil
Case No. LP-01-0149.

The Antecedent Facts

Alain M. Dio (petitioner) and Ma. Caridad L. Dio (respondent) were childhood friends and
sweethearts. They started living together in 1984 until they decided to separate in 1994. In
1996, petitioner and respondent decided to live together again. On 14 January 1998, they
were married before Mayor Vergel Aguilar of Las Pias City.

On 30 May 2001, petitioner filed an action for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage against
respondent, citing psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code. Petitioner
alleged that respondent failed in her marital obligation to give love and support to him, and
had abandoned her responsibility to the family, choosing instead to go on shopping sprees
and gallivanting with her friends that depleted the family assets. Petitioner further alleged
that respondent was not faithful, and would at times become violent and hurt him.

Extrajudicial service of summons was effected upon respondent who, at the time of the filing
of the petition, was already living in the United States of America. Despite receipt of the
summons, respondent did not file an answer to the petition within the reglementary period.
Petitioner later learned that respondent filed a petition for divorce/dissolution of her
marriage with petitioner, which was granted by the Superior Court of California on 25 May
2001. Petitioner also learned that on 5 October 2001, respondent married a certain Manuel
V. Alcantara.

On 30 April 2002, the Office of the Las Pias prosecutor found that there were no indicative
facts of collusion between the parties and the case was set for trial on the merits.

Dr. Nedy L. Tayag (Dr. Tayag), a clinical psychologist, submitted a psychological report
establishing that respondent was suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder which was
deeply ingrained in her system since her early formative years. Dr. Tayag found that
respondents disorder was long-lasting and by nature, incurable.
In its 18 October 2006 Decision, the trial court granted the petition on the ground that
respondent was psychologically incapacited to comply with the essential marital obligations
at the time of the celebration of the marriage.

The Decision of the Trial Court

The trial court ruled that based on the evidence presented, petitioner was able to establish
respondents psychological incapacity. The trial court ruled that even without
Dr.Tayags psychological report, the allegations in the complaint, substantiated in the witness
stand, clearly made out a case of psychological incapacity against respondent. The trial
court found that respondent committed acts which hurt and embarrassed petitioner and the
rest of the family, and that respondent failed to observe mutual love, respect and fidelity
required of her under Article 68 of the Family Code. The trial court also ruled that respondent
abandoned petitioner when she obtained a divorce abroad and married another man.

The dispositive portion of the trial courts decision reads:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered:

1.

Declaring the marriage between plaintiff ALAIN M. DIO and


defendant MA. CARIDAD L. DIO on January 14, 1998, and all its effects
under the law, as NULL and VOID from the beginning; and

2.

Dissolving the regime of absolute community of property.

A DECREE OF ABSOLUTE NULLITY OF MARRIAGE shall only be issued upon compliance


with Article[s] 50 and 51 of the Family Code.

Let copies of this Decision be furnished the parties, the Office of the Solicitor General,
Office of the City Prosecutor, Las Pias City and the Office of the Local Civil Registrar of
Las Pias City, for their information and guidance.

SO ORDERED.4
Petitioner filed a motion for partial reconsideration questioning the dissolution of the
absolute community of property and the ruling that the decree of annulment shall only be
issued upon compliance with Articles 50 and 51 of the Family Code.

In its 12 March 2007 Order, the trial court partially granted the motion and modified its 18
October 2006 Decision as follows:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered:

1) Declaring the marriage between plaintiff ALAIN M. DIO and defendant MA.
CARIDAD L. DIO on January 14, 1998, and all its effects under the law, as NULL and
VOID from the beginning; and

2) Dissolving the regime of absolute community of property.

A DECREE OF ABSOLUTE NULLITY OF MARRIAGE shall be issued after liquidation,


partition and distribution of the parties properties under Article 147 of the Family
Code.

Let copies of this Order be furnished the parties, the Office of the Solicitor General,
the Office of the City Prosecutor of Las Pias City and the Local Civil Registrar of
Las Pias City, for their information and guidance.5

Hence, the petition before this Court.


The Issue
The sole issue in this case is whether the trial court erred when it ordered that a decree of
absolute nullity of marriage shall only be issued after liquidation, partition, and distribution
of the parties properties under Article 147 of the Family Code.
The Ruling of this Court

The petition has merit.


Petitioner assails the ruling of the trial court ordering that a decree of absolute nullity of
marriage shall only be issued after liquidation, partition, and distribution of the parties
properties under Article 147 of the Family Code. Petitioner argues that Section 19(1) of the
Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Null Marriages and Annulment of Voidable
Marriages6 (the Rule) does not apply to Article 147 of the Family Code.

We agree with petitioner.

The Court has ruled in Valdes v. RTC, Branch 102, Quezon City that in a void marriage,
regardless of its cause, the property relations of the parties during the period of cohabitation
is governed either by Article 147 or Article 148 of the Family Code. 7 Article 147 of the Family
Code applies to union of parties who are legally capacitated and not barred by any
impediment to contract marriage, but whose marriage is nonetheless void, 8 such as
petitioner and respondent in the case before the Court.

Article 147 of the Family Code provides:

Article 147. When a man and a woman who are capacitated to marry each other, live
exclusively with each other as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage or
under a void marriage, their wages and salaries shall be owned by them in equal
shares and the property acquired by both of them through their work or industry shall
be governed by the rules on co-ownership.

In the absence of proof to the contrary, properties acquired while they lived together
shall be presumed to have been obtained by their joint efforts, work or industry, and
shall be owned by them in equal shares. For purposes of this Article, a party who did
not participate in the acquisition by the other party of any property shall be deemed
to have contributed jointly in the acquisition thereof if the formers efforts consisted in
the care and maintenance of the family and of the household.

Neither party can encumber or dispose by acts inter vivos of his or her share in the
property acquired during cohabitation and owned in common, without the consent of
the other, until after the termination of their cohabitation.

When only one of the parties to a void marriage is in good faith, the share of the
party in bad faith in the co-ownership shall be forfeited in favor of their common
children. In case of default of or waiver by any or all of the common children or their
descendants, each vacant share shall belong to the respective surviving
descendants. In the absence of descendants, such share shall belong to the innocent
party. In all cases, the forfeiture shall take place upon termination of the cohabitation.

For Article 147 of the Family Code to apply, the following elements must be present:

1.

The man and the woman must be capacitated to marry each other;

2.

They live exclusively with each other as husband and wife; and

3.

Their union is without the benefit of marriage, or their marriage is void. 9

All these elements are present in this case and there is no question that Article 147 of the
Family Code applies to the property relations between petitioner and respondent.

We agree with petitioner that the trial court erred in ordering that a decree of absolute
nullity of marriage shall be issued only after liquidation, partition and distribution of the
parties properties under Article 147 of the Family Code. The ruling has no basis because
Section 19(1) of the Rule does not apply to cases governed under Articles 147 and 148 of
the Family Code. Section 19(1) of the Rule provides:

Sec. 19. Decision. - (1) If the court renders a decision granting the petition, it shall
declare therein that the decree of absolute nullity or decree of annulment shall be
issued by the court only after compliance with Articles 50 and 51 of the Family Code
as implemented under the Rule on Liquidation, Partition and Distribution of
Properties.

The pertinent provisions of the Family Code cited in Section 19(1) of the Rule are:

Article 50. The effects provided for in paragraphs (2), (3), (4) and (5) of Article 43 and
in Article 44 shall also apply in proper cases to marriages which are declared
void ab initio or annulled by final judgment under Articles 40 and 45. 10

The final judgment in such cases shall provide for the liquidation, partition and
distribution of the properties of the spouses, the custody and support of the common
children, and the delivery of their presumptive legitimes, unless such matters had
been adjudicated in previous judicial proceedings.

All creditors of the spouses as well as of the absolute community of the conjugal
partnership shall be notified of the proceedings for liquidation.

In the partition, the conjugal dwelling and the lot on which it is situated, shall be
adjudicated in accordance with the provisions of Articles 102 and 129.

Article 51. In said partition, the value of the presumptive legitimes of all common
children, computed as of the date of the final judgment of the trial court, shall be
delivered in cash, property or sound securities, unless the parties, by mutual
agreement judicially approved, had already provided for such matters.

The children of their guardian, or the trustee of their property, may ask for the
enforcement of the judgment.
The delivery of the presumptive legitimes herein prescribed shall in no way prejudice
the ultimate successional rights of the children accruing upon the death of either or
both of the parents; but the value of the properties already received under the
decree of annulment or absolute nullity shall be considered as advances on
their legitime.

It is clear from Article 50 of the Family Code that Section 19(1) of the Rule applies only to
marriages which are declared void ab initio or annulled by final judgment under Articles 40
and 45 of the Family Code. In short, Article 50 of the Family Code does not apply to
marriages which are declared void ab initio under Article 36 of the Family Code, which
should be declared void without waiting for the liquidation of the properties of the parties.

Article 40 of the Family Code contemplates a situation where a second or bigamous


marriage was contracted. Under Article 40, [t]he absolute nullity of a previous marriage may
be invoked for purposes of remarriage on the basis solely of a final judgment declaring such
previous marriage void. Thus we ruled:

x x x where the absolute nullity of a previous marriage is sought to be invoked for


purposes of contracting a second marriage, the sole basis acceptable in law, for said
projected marriage to be free from legal infirmity, is a final judgment declaring a
previous marriage void.11
Article 45 of the Family Code, on the other hand, refers to voidable marriages, meaning,
marriages which are valid until they are set aside by final judgment of a competent court in
an action for annulment.12 In both instances under Articles 40 and 45, the marriages are
governed either by absolute community of property13 or conjugal partnership of
gains14 unless the parties agree to a complete separation of property in a marriage

settlement entered into before the marriage. Since the property relations of the parties is
governed by absolute community of property or conjugal partnership of gains, there is a
need to liquidate, partition and distribute the properties before a decree of annulment could
be issued. That is not the case for annulment of marriage under Article 36 of the Family
Code because the marriage is governed by the ordinary rules on co-ownership.

In this case, petitioners marriage to respondent was declared void under Article 36 15 of the
Family Code and not under Article 40 or 45. Thus, what governs the liquidation of properties
owned in common by petitioner and respondent are the rules on co-ownership. In Valdes,
the Court ruled that the property relations of parties in a void marriage during the period of
cohabitation is governed either by Article 147 or Article 148 of the Family Code. 16 The rules
on co-ownership apply and the properties of the spouses should be liquidated in accordance
with the Civil Code provisions on co-ownership. Under Article 496 of the Civil Code,
[p]artition may be made by agreement between the parties or by judicial
proceedings. x x x. It is not necessary to liquidate the properties of the spouses in the same
proceeding for declaration of nullity of marriage.

WHEREFORE, we AFFIRM the Decision of the trial court with the MODIFICATION that the
decree of absolute nullity of the marriage shall be issued upon finality of the trial courts
decision without waiting for the liquidation, partition, and distribution of the parties
properties under Article 147 of the Family Code.
SO ORDERED.