Case Digests
Case Digests, Constitutional Law 1 Digests, Law School

Case Digest: Mercado v. Manzano

Mercado v. Manzano

TOPIC: Elements of the State: Citizens: Citizenship: Loss of Citizenship, Reacquisition and Retention


Petitioner Ernesto S. Mercado and private respondent Eduardo B. Manzano were candidates for vice mayor of the City of Makati in the May 11, 1998 elections. The other one was Gabriel V. Daza III. The results of the election were as follows:

Eduardo B. Manzano 103,853

Ernesto S. Mercado 100,894

Gabriel V. Daza III 54,2751

The proclamation of private respondent was suspended in view of a pending petition for disqualification filed by a certain Ernesto Mamaril who alleged that private respondent was not a citizen of the Philippines but of the United States.

As aforesaid, respondent Eduardo Barrios Manzano was born in San Francisco, California, U.S.A. He acquired US citizenship by operation of the United States Constitution and laws under the principle of jus soli.

He was also a natural born Filipino citizen by operation of the 1935 Philippine Constitution, as his father and mother were Filipinos at the time of his birth. At the age of six (6), his parents brought him to the Philippines using an American passport as travel document. His parents also registered him as an alien with the Philippine Bureau of Immigration. He was issued an alien certificate of registration. This, however, did not result in the loss of his Philippine citizenship, as he did not renounce Philippine citizenship and did not take an oath of allegiance to the United States.

It is an undisputed fact that when respondent attained the age of majority, he registered himself as a voter, and voted in the elections of 1992, 1995 and 1998, which effectively renounced his US citizenship under American law. Under Philippine law, he no longer had U.S. citizenship.

At the time of the May 11, 1998 elections, the resolution of the Second Division, adopted on May 7, 1998, was not yet final. Respondent Manzano obtained the highest number of votes among the candidates for vice-mayor of Makati City, garnering one hundred three thousand eight hundred fifty three (103,853) votes over his closest rival, Ernesto S. Mercado, who obtained one hundred thousand eight hundred ninety four (100,894) votes, or a margin of two thousand nine hundred fifty nine (2,959) votes. Gabriel Daza III obtained third place with fifty four thousand two hundred seventy five (54,275) votes. In applying election laws, it would be far better to err in favor of the popular choice than be embroiled in complex legal issues involving private international law which may well be settled before the highest court (Cf. Frivaldo vs. Commission on Elections, 257 SCRA 727).


WON Eduardo Manzano a Filipino citizen



The disqualification of private respondent Manzano is being sought under §40 of the Local Government Code of 1991 (R.A. No. 7160), which declares as “disqualified from running for any elective local position: . . . (d) Those with dual citizenship.” This provision is incorporated in the Charter of the City of Makati.

Invoking the maxim dura lex sed lex, petitioner, as well as the Solicitor General, who sides with him in this case, contends that through §40(d) of the Local Government Code, Congress has “command[ed] in explicit terms the ineligibility of persons possessing dual allegiance to hold local elective office.”

To begin with, dual citizenship is different from dual allegiance. The former arises when, as a result of the concurrent application of the different laws of two or more states, a person is simultaneously considered a national by the said states. For instance, such a situation may arise when a person whose parents are citizens of a state which adheres to the principle of jus sanguinis is born in a state which follows the doctrine of jus soli. Such a person, ipso facto and without any voluntary act on his part, is concurrently considered a citizen of both states. Considering the citizenship clause (Art. IV) of our Constitution, it is possible for the following classes of citizens of the Philippines to possess dual citizenship:

(1) Those born of Filipino fathers and/or mothers in foreign countries which follow the principle of jus soli;

(2) Those born in the Philippines of Filipino mothers and alien fathers if by the laws of their father’s’ country such children are citizens of that country;

(3) Those who marry aliens if by the laws of the latter’s country the former are considered citizens, unless by their act or omission they are deemed to have renounced Philippine citizenship.

There may be other situations in which a citizen of the Philippines may, without performing any act, be also a citizen of another state; but the above cases are clearly possible given the constitutional provisions on citizenship.

Dual allegiance, on the other hand, refers to the situation in which a person simultaneously owes, by some positive act, loyalty to two or more states. While dual citizenship is involuntary, dual allegiance is the result of an individual’s volition.

With respect to dual allegiance, Article IV, §5 of the Constitution provides: “Dual allegiance of citizens is inimical to the national interest and shall be dealt with by law.”

Clearly, in including §5 in Article IV on citizenship, the concern of the Constitutional Commission was not with dual citizens per se but with naturalized citizens who maintain their allegiance to their countries of origin even after their naturalization. Hence, the phrase “dual citizenship” in R.A. No. 7160, §40(d) and in R.A. No. 7854, §20 must be understood as referring to “dual allegiance.” Consequently, persons with mere dual citizenship do not fall under this disqualification. Unlike those with dual allegiance, who must, therefore, be subject to strict process with respect to the termination of their status, for candidates with dual citizenship, it should suffice if, upon the filing of their certificates of candidacy, they elect Philippine citizenship to terminate their status as persons with dual citizenship considering that their condition is the unavoidable consequence of conflicting laws of different states. As Joaquin G. Bernas, one of the most perceptive members of the Constitutional Commission, pointed out: “[D]ual citizenship is just a reality imposed on us because we have no control of the laws on citizenship of other countries. We recognize a child of a Filipino mother. But whether she is considered a citizen of another country is something completely beyond our control.”

The record shows that private respondent was born in San Francisco, California on September 4, 1955, of Filipino parents. Since the Philippines adheres to the principle of jus sanguinis, while the United States follows the doctrine of jus soli, the parties agree that, at birth at least, he was a national both of the Philippines and of the United States. However, the COMELEC en banc held that, by participating in Philippine elections in 1992, 1995, and 1998, private respondent “effectively renounced his U.S. citizenship under American law,” so that now he is solely a Philippine national.

Petitioner challenges this ruling. He argues that merely taking part in Philippine elections is not sufficient evidence of renunciation and that, in any event, as the alleged renunciation was made when private respondent was already 37 years old, it was ineffective as it should have been made when he reached the age of majority.

In holding that by voting in Philippine elections private respondent renounced his American citizenship, the COMELEC must have in mind §349 of the Immigration and Nationality Act of the United States, which provided that “A person who is a national of the United States, whether by birth or naturalization, shall lose his nationality by: . . . (e) Voting in a political election in a foreign state or participating in an election or plebiscite to determine the sovereignty over foreign territory.” To be sure this provision was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in Afroyim v. Rusk 16 as beyond the power given to the U.S. Congress to regulate foreign relations. However, by filing a certificate of candidacy when he ran for his present post, private respondent elected Philippine citizenship and in effect renounced his American citizenship.

To recapitulate, by declaring in his certificate of candidacy that he is a Filipino citizen; that he is not a permanent resident or immigrant of another country; that he will defend and support the Constitution of the Philippines and bear true faith and allegiance thereto and that he does so without mental reservation, private respondent has, as far as the laws of this country are concerned, effectively repudiated his American citizenship and anything which he may have said before as a dual citizen.

On the other hand, private respondent’s oath of allegiance to the Philippines, when considered with the fact that he has spent his youth and adulthood, received his education, practiced his profession as an artist, and taken part in past elections in this country, leaves no doubt of his election of Philippine citizenship.

His declarations will be taken upon the faith that he will fulfill his undertaking made under oath. Should he betray that trust, there are enough sanctions for declaring the loss of his Philippine citizenship through expatriation in appropriate proceedings. In Yu v. Defensor-Santiago, 19 we sustained the denial of entry into the country of petitioner on the ground that, after taking his oath as a naturalized citizen, he applied for the renewal of his Portuguese passport and declared in commercial documents executed abroad that he was a Portuguese national. A similar sanction can be taken against any one who, in electing Philippine citizenship, renounces his foreign nationality, but subsequently does some act constituting renunciation of his Philippine citizenship.



We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

You may also like...