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Constitutional Law1

MERCADO V. MANZANO 307 SCRA 630 (1999)


G.R. No. 135083 Ponente: Mendoza, J.
Petitioner: Ernesto S. Mercado
Respondents: Eduardo B. Manzano and COMELEC

FACTS:
This is a petition for certiorari seeking to set aside the resolution of the COMELEC en banc
and to declare Manzano disqualified to hold the office of vice-mayor of Makati City.

Important details on Edu Manzano: born September 4, 1955 in San Francisco, California, USA to
Filipino parents.

On the May 11, 1998 elections for vice-mayoralty of Makati City, 3 candidates competed for the
post: Eduardo B. Manzano, Ernesto S. Mercado, and Gabriel V. Daza III. Manzano won the elections but his
proclamation was suspended due to a pending petition for disqualification filed by a certain Ernesto Mamaril
alleging that Manzano was an American citizen. On May 7, 1998, the Second Division of the COMELEC
cancelled the certificate of candidacy of Manzano on the grounds of his dual-citizenship, which disqualifies
him according to Sec.40(d) of the Local Government Code. Manzano filed a motion for reconsideration.
Mercado sought to intervene in the case for disqualification. Manzano opposed the motion to intervene. The
motion was unresolved. But on August 31, 1998, the COMELEC en banc (with 1 commissioner abstaining)
reversed the Second Division’s ruling on the cancellation of the certificate of candidacy and directing the
proclamation of Manzano as winner, saying:

• Manzano, being born in the USA, obtained US citizenship by operation of the US


constitution and laws under principle of jus soli (basis is place of birth).
o Yet, by being born to Filipino parents, Manzano natural born Filipino citizen, by
operation of the 1935 Philippine Constitution and laws under principle jus sanguinis
(the right of blood).
 Although he is registered as an alien with the Philippine Bureau of
Immigration and holds and American passport, he has not lost his Filipino
citizenship since he has not renounced it and has not taken an oath of
allegiance to the USA.
• Manzano, after the age of majority, registered himself as a voter and voted in the 1992,
1995, and 1998 Philippine elections which effectively renounced his US citizenship under
American law. Under Philippine law, he no longer had US citizenship.

Private respondent Manzano was then proclaimed as vice-mayor of Makati City.

ISSUES:
1. WON petitioner Mercado has personality to bring this suit considering that he was not an
original party in the case for disqualification filed by Ernesto Mamaril nor was his motion
for leave to intervene granted.
2. WON respondent Manzano is a dual citizen and if so, WON he is disqualified from being a
candidate for vice-mayor in Makati City.

DECISIONS:
1. Yes.
2. No, and so, no.
REASONS:
1. Manzano argues that Mercado has neither legal interest in the matter of litigation nor an interest to
protect because he is “a defeated candidate for the vice-mayoralty post of Makati City [who] cannot
be proclaimed as the Vice-Mayor of Makati City even if the private respondent be ultimately
disqualified by final and executory judgment.”
 This assumes that at the time intervention was sought, there had already been a
proclamation of the election results for the vice-mayoralty elections when in fact, there has
not been such a proclamation. Certainly, the petitioner had, and still has an interest in
ousting private respondent from the race when he sought to intervene. The rule in Labo v.
COMELEC only applies when the election of the respondent is contested, and the question
is WON the second placer may be declared winner. If Mamaril was competent to bring
action, so was Mercado, being a rival candidate.
 Petitioner has right to intervene even if he filed the motion on May 20, 1998, when it was
shown that the private respondent had the most votes. Electoral Reforms Law of 1987
provides that intervention may be allowed in proceedings for disqualification even
after election if there has been no final judgment rendered. Failure of COMELEC en
banc to resolve petitioner’s motion for intervention was tantamount to denial of the
motion, justifying this petition for certiorari.
2. Invoking the maxim dura lex sed lex, petitioner contends that through Sec.40(d) of the Local
Government Code (which declares as “disqualified from running for elective local position… Those
with dual-citizenship”), Congress has “command[ed] in explicit terms the ineligibility of persons
possessing dual allegiance to hold elective office.”
 Dual citizenship is different from dual allegiance. Dual citizenship is involuntary; it arises out
of circumstances of birth or marriage, where a person is recognized to be a national by two
or more states. Dual allegiance is a result of a person’s volition; it is a situation wherein a
person simultaneously owes, by some positive act, loyalty to two or more states. Dual
citizenship is an issue because a person who has this raises a question of which state’s law
must apply to him/her, therefore posting a threat to a country’s sovereignty. In Sec.5 Article
IV of the Constitution on Citizenship, the concern was not with dual citizenship per se, but
with naturalized citizens who maintain allegiance to their countries of origin even after
naturalization. Hence, “dual citizenship” in the aforementioned disqualification clause must
mean “dual allegiance”. Therefore, persons with mere dual citizenship do not fall under this
disqualification.
 It should suffice that upon filing of certificates for candidacy, such persons with dual
citizenships have elected their Philippine citizenship to terminate their dual citizenship. In
private respondent’s certificate of candidacy, he made these statements under oath on
March 27, 1998: “I am a Filipino citizen…Natural-born”. “I am not a permanent resident of , or
immigrant to , a foreign country.” “I am eligible for the office I seek to be elected. I will support
and defend the Constitution of the Philippines and will maintain true faith and allegiance
thereto…” The filing of such certificate of candidacy sufficed to renounce his
American citizenship, effectively removing any disqualification he might have as a
dual-citizen. In Frivaldo v. COMELEC, it was held that “By laws of the United States…
Frivaldo lost his American citizenship when he took his oath of allegiance to the Philippine
Government when he ran for Governor in 1988, in 1992, and in 1995. Every certificate of
candidacy contains an oath of allegiance to the Philippine Government.” Therefore, petitioner
Mercado’s contention that the oath of allegiance contained in private respondent’s
certificate of candidacy is insufficient to constitute his renunciation of his American
citizenship. Also, equally without merit is his contention that, to be effective, such
renunciation should have been made upon reaching the age of majority since no law
requires the election of Philippine citizenship to be made upon majority age.
 Plus, the fact that Manzano admitted that he was registered as an American citizen with the
Philippine Bureau of Immigration and Deportation and that he holds an American passport
which he used for his last travel to the US dated April 22, 1997should not be such a big
deal. At the time of said travel, the use of an American passport was simply an assertion of
his American nationality before the termination of his American citizenship. Admitting that
he was a registered alien does not mean that he is not still a Filipino (Aznar v. COMELEC).
 Manzano’s oath of allegiance, together with the fact he has spent his life here, received his
education here, and practiced his profession here, and has taken part in past Philippine
elections, leaves no doubt of his election of Philippine citizenship.
WHEREFORE, petition for certiorari, DISMISSED. *Ineligibility refers to lack of qualifications prescribed.