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Case Digest: Aznar v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 83820, 25 May 1990

Aznar v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 83820, 25 May 1990

TOPIC: Elements of the State: Citizens: Citizenship: Citizenship of Foundlings and Naturalized Citizens


On November 19, 1987, private respondent Emilio “Lito” Osmeña filed his certificate of candidacy with the COMELEC for the position of Provincial Governor of Cebu Province in the January 18, 1988 local elections.

On January 22, 1988, the Cebu PDP-Laban Provincial Council (Cebu-PDP Laban, for short), as represented by petitioner Jose B. Aznar in his capacity as its incumbent Provincial Chairman, filed with the COMELEC a petition for the disqualification of private respondent on the ground that he is allegedly not a Filipino citizen, being a citizen of the United States of America.

On January 27, 1988, petitioner filed a Formal Manifestation submitting a Certificate issued by the then Immigration and Deportation Commissioner Miriam Defensor Santiago certifying that private respondent is an American and is a holder of Alien Certificate of Registration (ACR) No. B-21448 and Immigrant Certificate of Residence (ICR) No. 133911, issued at Manila on March 27 and 28, 1958, respectively. (Annex “B-1”).

Private respondent, on the other hand, maintained that he is a Filipino citizen, alleging: that he is the legitimate child of Dr. Emilio D. Osmeña, a Filipino and son of the late President Sergio Osmeña, Sr.; that he is a holder of a valid and subsisting Philippine Passport No. 0855103 issued on March 25, 1987; that he has been continuously residing in the Philippines since birth and has not gone out of the country for more than six months; and that he has been a registered voter in the Philippines since 1965. (pp. 107-108, Rollo)

On March 3, 1988, COMELEC (First Division) directed the Board of Canvassers to proclaim the winning candidates. Having obtained the highest number of votes, private respondent was proclaimed the Provincial Governor of Cebu.

Thereafter, on June 11, 1988, COMELEC (First Division) dismissed the petition for disqualification for not having been timely filed and for lack of sufficient proof that private respondent is not a Filipino citizen.


WON Emilio Osmeña is a Filipino citizen


In the proceedings before the COMELEC, the petitioner failed to present direct proof that private respondent had lost his Filipino citizenship by any of the modes provided for under C.A. No. 63. Among others, these are: (1) by naturalization in a foreign country; (2) by express renunciation of citizenship; and (3) by subscribing to an oath of allegiance to support the Constitution or laws of a foreign country. From the evidence, it is clear that private respondent Osmeña did not lose his Philippine citizenship by any of the three mentioned hereinabove or by any other mode of losing Philippine citizenship.

In concluding that private respondent had been naturalized as a citizen of the United States of America, the petitioner merely relied on the fact that private respondent was issued alien certificate of registration and was given clearance and permit to re-enter the Philippines by the Commission on Immigration and Deportation. Petitioner assumed that because of the foregoing, the respondent is an American and “being an American”, private respondent “must have taken and sworn to the Oath of Allegiance required by the U.S. Naturalization Laws.” (p. 81, Rollo)

Philippine courts are only allowed to determine who are Filipino citizens and who are not. Whether or not a person is considered an American under the laws of the United States does not concern Us here.

By virtue of his being the son of a Filipino father, the presumption that private respondent is a Filipino remains. It was incumbent upon the petitioner to prove that private respondent had lost his Philippine citizenship. As earlier stated, however, the petitioner failed to positively establish this fact.

In the learned dissent of Mr. Justice Teodoro Padilla, he stresses the fact that because Osmeña obtained Certificates of Alien Registration as an American citizen, the first in 1958 when he was 24 years old and the second in 1979, he, Osmeña should be regarded as having expressly renounced Philippine citizenship. To Our mind, this is a case of non sequitur (It does not follow). Considering the fact that admittedly Osmeña was both a Filipino and an American, the mere fact that he has a Certificate stating he is an American does not mean that he is not still a Filipino. Thus, by way of analogy, if a person who has two brothers named Jose and Mario states or certifies that he has a brother named Jose, this does not mean that he does not have a brother named Mario; or if a person is enrolled as student simultaneously in two universities, namely University X and University Y, presents a Certification that he is a student of University X, this does not necessarily mean that he is not still a student of University Y. In the case of Osmeña, the Certification that he is an American does not mean that he is not still a Filipino, possessed as he is, of both nationalities or citizenships. Indeed, there is no express renunciation here of Philippine citizenship; truth to tell, there is even no implied renunciation of said citizenship. When We consider that the renunciation needed to lose Philippine citizenship must be “express”, it stands to reason that there can be no such loss of Philippine ‘citizenship when there is no renunciation either “‘express” or “implied”.

Parenthetically, the statement in the 1987 Constitution that “dual allegiance of citizens is inimical to the national interest and shall be dealt with by law”(Art. IV, Sec. 5) has no retroactive effect. And while it is true that even before the 1987 Constitution, Our country had already frowned upon the concept of dual citizenship or allegiance, the fact is it actually existed. Be it noted further that under the aforecited proviso, the effect of such dual citizenship or allegiance shall be dealt with by a future law. Said law has not yet been enacted.



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