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THIRD DIVISION G.R. No.

R. No. 187524 August 5, 2015 with Renunciation, Repudiations and Waiver of Rights and Sale which
provides, among others, that respondents' co-heirs sold the family
SPOUSES MARIA BUTIONG and VILLAFRlA, DR. RUEL B. SPOUSES home to the spouses Rolando and Ma. Cecilia Bondoc for Pl million
MARIA FRANCISCO substituted by VILLAFRIA, Petitioners, as well as a Deed of Sale whereby Benita sold the resort to petitioners
vs. MA. GRACIA RINOZA PLAZO and MA. FE RINOZA ALARAS, for ₱650, 000.00. 11
Respondents.
On October 1, 2001, the trial court nullified the transfer of the subject
DECISION Properties to petitioners and spouses Bondoc due to irregularities in
the Documents of conveyance offered by petitioner’s .as well as the
circumstances Surrounding the execution of the same. Specifically,
PERALTA, J.: the Extra-Judicial Settlement was notarized by a notary public that
was not duly commissioned as such on the date it was executed. 12
Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of The Deed of Sale was Undated, the date of the acknowledgment
the Rules of Court seeking to reverse and set aside the Decision 1 therein was left blank, and the Typewritten name "Pedro Rifioza,
and Resolution, 2 dated March 13, 2009 and April 23, 2009·, Husband" on the left side of the document Was not signed. 13 The
respectively, of the Court Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 107347, trial court also observed that both documents were Never presented
Which affirmed the Judgment 3 dated October 1, 2001 of the to the Office of the Register of Deeds for registration and That the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Nasugbu, Batangas, Branch 14, in Civil titles to the subject properties were still in the names of Pedro and
Case No. 217. His second wife Benita. In addition, the supposed notaries and buyers
of the Subject properties were not even presented as witnesses
The antecedent facts are as follows: whom supposedly witnessed the signing and execution of the
documents of conveyance. 14 On The basis thereof, the triaI court
ruled in favor of respondents, in its Judgment, the pertinent portions
On November 16, 1989, Pedro L. Rifioza died intestate, leaving
of its fallo provide:
several heirs, including his_ children with his first wife, respondents
Ma. Gracia R. Plazo and Ma. Fe Alaras, as well as several properties
including a resort covered by Transfer Certificates of Title (TCT) No. WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, judgment is Hereby
51354 and No. 51355, each with an area of 351 square meters, and a rendered as follows:
family home, the land on which it stands is covered by TCT Nos.
40807 and 40808, both located in Nasugbu, Batangas. 4 xxxx

In their Amended Complaint for Judicial Partition with Annulment of 4. A) Declaring as a nullity the ~'Extra-Judicial Settlement with
Title and Recovery of Possession 5 dated September 15, 1993, Renunciation, Repudiation and Waiver of Rights and Sale" (Ex. "l ",
respondents alleged that sometime in March 1991, they discovered Villafria) notarized on December 23, 1991 by Notary Public Antonio
that their co-heirs, Pedro’s second wife, Benita"Tenorio and other G. Malonzo of Manila, Doc. No. 190, Page No. 20, Book No. IXII,
children, had sold the subject properties to petitioners, spouses Series of 1991. .
Francisco Villafria and Maria Butiong, who are now deceased and
substituted by their son, Dr. Ruel B. Villafria, without their knowledge b) Declaring as a nullity the Deed of Absolute Sale (Ex. "2",
and consent. When confronted about the sale, Benita acknowledged Villafria), purportedly executed by Benita T. Rifioza in favor
the same, showing respondents a document she believed evidenced of spouses Francisco Villafria and Maria Butiong,
receipt of her share in the sale, which, however, did not refer to any purportedly notarized by one Alfredo de Guzman marked
sort of sale but to a previous loan obtoiined by Pedro and Benita Doc. No. 1136, Page No. 141, and Book. No. XXX, Series of
from a bank. 6 The document actually evidenced receipt from Banco 1991.
Silangan of the amount of ₱87, 352.62 releasing her and her late
husband’s indebtedness therefrom. 7 Upon inquiry, the Register of
Deeds of Nasugbu informed respondents that he has no record of c) Ordering the forfeiture of any and all improvements
any transaction involving the subject properties, giving them certified introduced By defendants Francisco Villafria and Maria
true copies of the titles to the same. When respondents went to the Butiong in the properties Covered by TCT No. 40807,
subject properties, they discovered that 4 out of the 8 cottages in the 40808, 51354 and 51355 of the Register of Deeds for
resort had been demolished. They were not, however, able to enter as Nasugbu, Batangas. .
the premises were padlocked.
5. Ordering defendant Francisco Villafria and all persons, whose
Subsequently, respondents learned that on July 18, 1991, a notice of Occupancy within the premises of the four- (4) parcels of land
an extra-judicial settlement of estate of their late father was described in Par. 4-c above is derived from the rights and interest of
published in a tabloid called Balita. Because of this, They caused the defendant Villafria, to vacate its premises and to deliver possession
annotation of their adverse claims over the subject properties before thereof, and all improvements existing thereon to plaintiffs, for and in
the Register of Deeds of Nasugbu and filed their complaint praying, behalf of the estate of decedent Pedro L. Rifioza.
among others, for the annulment of all documents conveying the
subject properties to the petitioners and certificates of title issued 6. Declaring the plaintiffs and the defendants-heirs in the Amended
pursuant thereto. 8 Complaint to be the legitimate heirs of decedent Pedro L. Rifioza,
each in the capacity and degree established, as well as their direct
In their Answer, 9 petitioners denied the allegations of the complaint successors-in interest, and ordering the defendant Registrar of Deeds
on the groun_d of lack of personal knowledge and good faith in to issue the co1Tesponding titles in their names in the proportion
acquiring the subject properties. In the course of his testimony during established by law, pro in division, in TCT Nos. 40807, 40808, 51354,
trial, petitioner Francisco further contended that what they purchased 51355 and 40353 (after restoration) within ten (10) days from finality
was only the resort. 10 He also presented an Extra-Judicial Settlement of this Decision, 4pon payment of lawful fees, except TCT No. 40353,
which shall be exempt from all expenses for its restoration.

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With no costs. (b) By evidence of the genuineness of the signature or
handwriting of the maker.
SO ORDERED. 15
The Complaining Heirs insist that the settlement/family home and the
On appeal, the CA affirmed the trial ‘court’s Judgment in its Decision resort deed are void, as their signatures thereon are forgeries as
16 dated October 31, 2006 in the following wise: opposed to the Villafrias who profess the deeds' enforceability. After
the Complaining Heirs presented proofs in support of their claim that
their signatures were forged, the burden then fell upon the Villafrias
The person before whom the resort deed was acknowledged, Alfredo to disprove the ~ame2 or conversely, to prove the authenticity and
de Guzman, was not commissioned as a notary public from 1989 to due execution of the said deeds. The Villafrias failed in this regard.
July 3, 1991, the date the certification was issued. Such being the
case, the resort deed is not a public document and the presumption
of regularity accorded to public documents will not apply to the As forestalled, the Villafrias did not present as witnesses (a) the
same. As laid down in Tigno, et al. v. Aquino, et al.: notary public who purportedly notarized the questioned instrument,
(b) the witnesses who appear [Ed] in the instruments as eyewitnesses
to the signing, or (c) an expert to prove the authenticity and
The validity of a notarial certification necessarily derives from the genuineness of all the signatures appearing on the said instruments.
authority of the notarial officer. If the notary public docs net have the Verily, the rule that, proper foundation must be laid for the admission
capacity to notarize a document, but does so anyway, then the of documentary evidence; that is, the identity and authenticity of the
document should be treated as A. Unnotarized. The rule may strike as document must be reasonably established as a pre requisite to its
rather harsh, and perhaps may prove to be prejudicial to parties in admission, was prudently observed by the lower court when it
good faith relying on the proferred authority of the notary public or refused to admit the settlement/family home and the resort deeds as
the person pretending to be one. Still, to admit otherwise would their veracity are doubtful. 17
render merely officious the elaborate process devised by this Court in
order that a lawyer may receive a notarial commission. Without such
a rule, Aggrieved, petitioners, substituted by their son Ruel Villafria, filed a
Motion for Reconsideration dated November 24, 2006 raising the trial
court’s lack of jurisdiction. It was alleged that when the Complaint for
The notarization of a document by a duly appointed notary public Judicial Partition with Annulment of Title and Recovery of Possession
will have the same legal effect as one accomplished by a non-lawyer was filed, there was yet no settlement of Pedro's estate,
engaged in pretense. The notarization of a document carries determination as to the nature thereof, nor was there an
considerable legal effect. Notarization of a private document converts identification of the number of legitimate heirs. As such, the trial
such document into a public one, and renders it admissible in court court ruled on the settlement of the intestate estate of Pedro in its
without further proof of its authenticity. Thus, notarization is not an ordinary· jurisdiction when the action filed was for Judidal Partition.
empty routine; to the contrary, it engages public interest in a Considering that the instant action is really one for settlement of
substantial degree and the protection of that interest requires intestate estate, the trial court, sitting merely in its probate
preventing those who are not qualified or authorized to act as jurisdiction, exceeded its jurisdiction when it ruled upon the issues of
notaries public from imposing upon the public and the courts and forgery and ownership. Thus, petitioner argued that. Said ruling is
administrative offices generally. void and has no effect for having been rendered without jurisdiction.
The Motion for Reconsideration was, however, denied by the
Parenthetically, the settlement/family home deed cannot be appellate court on February 26, 2007.
considered a public document. This is because the following cast
doubt on the document's authenticity, to wit: J. On appeal, this Court denied on June 20, 2007, petitioner's Petition
for Review on Certiorari for submitting a verification of the petition, a
1.) The date of its execution was not indicated; certificate of non-forum shopping and an affidavit of service that
failed to comply with the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice regarding
2.) The amount of consideration was superimposed; competent evidence of affiant' s identities. 18 In its Resolution 19
dated September 26, 2007, this Court also denied petitioner's Motion
for Reconsideration in the absence of any compelling reason to
3.) It was not presented to the Registry of Deeds of Nasugbu,
warrant a modification of the previous denial. Thus, the June 20, 2007
Batangas for annotation; and
Resolution became final and executors on October 31, 2007 as
certified by the Entry of Judgment issued by the Court. 20 On January
4.) Not even the supposed notary public," Alfredo de Guzman, or the 16, 2008, the Court further denied petitioner' s motion for leave to
purported buyer, the Spouses Rolando and Ma. Cecilia Bondoc, were admit a second motion for reconsideration of its September 26, 2007
presented as witnesses. · Concededly, the absence of notarization in Resolution, considering that the same is a prohibited pleading under
the resort deed and/or the lacking details in the settlement/family Section 2, Rule 52, in relation to Section 4, Rule 56 of the 1997 Rules
home deed did not necessarily invalidate the transactions evidenced of Civil Procedure, as amended. Furthennore, petitioner's letter dated
by the said documents. However, since the said deeds are private December 18, 2007 pleading the Court to take a second. Look at his
documents, perforce, their due execution and authenticity becomes petition for review on certiorari and that a decision thereon be
subject to the requirement of proof under the Rules on Evidence, rendered based purely on its merits was noted without action. 21
Section 20, Rule 132 of which provides: Sec. 20. Proof of private
document. - Before any private. Document offered as authentic is
Unsatisfied, petitioner wrote a letter dated March 24, 2008 addressed
received in evidence, its due execution a"Q.d. authenticity must be
to then Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno praying that a decision on the
proved either:
case be rendered based on the. Merits and not on formal
requirements "as he stands to lose everything his parents had left
(a). By anyone who saw the document executed or written; him just because the verification against non-forum shopping is
or formally defective." However, in view of the Entry of Judgment having

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been made on October 31, 2007, the Court likewise noted said letter jurisdiction. Too, We do not find merit in the Petitioners' second
without action. 22 issue, supra. As mentioned earlier, entry of judgment had already
been made on the assailed Decision and Order as early as 31 October
On November 27, 2008, the RTC issued an Order, issuing a Part Writ 2007.
of Execution of its October 1, 2001 Decision with respect to the
portions disposing of petitioner's claims as affirmed by the CA. xxxx

The foregoing notwithstanding, petitioner filed, on February 11, 200 a It maybe that the doctrine of finality of judgments permits certain
Petition for Annulment of Judgment and· Order before the CA equitable remedies such as a petition for annulment. But the I. Rules
assailing October 1, 2001 Decision as well as the November 27, 2008 are clear. The annulment by the Court of Appeals of judgments or
Order of the RTC on the grounds of extrinsic fraud and lack of final orders and resolutions in civil actions of the Regional Trial
jurisdiction. In Decision dated March 13, 2009, however, the CA Courts is resorted to only where the ordinary remedies of new trial,
dismissed the petition a affirmed the rulings of the trial court in the appeal, petition for relief or other appropriate remedies are no longer
following wise: Although the assailed Decision of the Court a quo has available through no fault of the petitioner, supra.
already become final and executory and in fact entry of judgment
was issued on 31 October 2007, supra, nevertheless, to put the issues If Petitioners lost their chance to avail themselves of the appropriate
to rest,·We deem it apropos to tackle the same. remedies or appeal before the Supreme Court, that is their own look
out. The High Tribunal has emphatically pointed out in Mercado, et
The Petitioner argues that the assailed Decision and Order of the al. v. Security Bank Corporation, thus:
Court a quo, supra, should be annulled and set aside on the grounds
of extrinsic fraud and lack of jurisdiction. A principle almost repeated to satiety is that "an action for
annulment of judgment cannot and is not a substitute for the lost
We are not persuaded. remedy of·appeal." A party must have first availed of appeal, a
motion for new trial or a petition for relief before an action for
xxxx annulment can prosper. Its obvious rationale is to prevent the party
from benefiting from his inaction or negligence. Also, the action for
annulment of judgment must be based either on (a) extrinsic fraud or
Section 2 of the Rules as stated above provides that the annulment of (b) lack of jurisdiction or denial of due process. Having failed to avail
a judgment may "be based only on grounds of extrinsic fraud and of the remedies and there being 'a Clear showing that neither of the
lack of jurisdiction." In RP v. The Heirs of Sancho Magdato, the High grounds was present, the petition must be dismissed. Only a
Tribunal stressed that: There is extrinsic fraud when "the unsuccessful disgruntled litigant would find such legal disposition unacceptable.
party had been ·prevented from exhibiting fully his case, by fraud or 23 When the appellate court denied Petitioner’s Motion for
deception practiced on him by his opponent, as by keeping him away Reconsideration in its Resolution dated April 23, 2009, petitioner filed
from court, ... or where the defendant never had knowledge of the the instant Petition for Review on Certiorari on June 10, 2009,
suit, being kept in ignorance by the acts of the plaintiff; ... " invoking the following ground:

Otherwise put, extrinsic or collateral fraud pertains to such fraud, I.


which prevents the aggrieved party ·from having a trial or presenting
his case to the court, or is used to procure the judgment without fair
submission of the controversy. This refers to acts intended to keep THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR IN NOT
the unsuccessful party away from the courts as when there is a false RULING THAT THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 14, NASUGBU,
promise of compromise or when one is kept in ignorance of the suit. BATANGAS, ACTED WITHOUT JURISDCITION IN ENTERTAINING THE
The pivotal issues before us are (1) whether. There was a time during SPECIAL PROCEEDING FOR THE SETTLEMENT OF ESTATE OF PEDRO
the proceedings below that the Petitioners ever prevented from RINOZA AND THE CIVIL ACTION FOR ANNULMENT OF TITLE OF THE
exhibiting fully their case, by fraud or deception, practiced on them HEIRS AND THIRD PERSONS IN ONE PROCEEDING. 24
by Respondents, and (2) whether the Petitioners were kept away from
the court or kept in ignorance by the acts of the Respondent? Petitioner asserts that while the complaint filed by respondents was
captioned as "Judicial Partition with Annulment of Title and Recovery
We find nothing of that sort. Instead, what we deduced as We of Possession," the allegations therein show that the cause of action
carefully delved. Into the evidentiary facts surrounding the instant is actually one for settlement of estate of decedent Pedro.
case as well as the proceedings below as shown in the 36-page Considering that settlement of estate is a special proceeding
Decision of the Court a quo, is that the Petitioners were given ample cognizable by a probate court of limited jurisdiction while judicial
time to rebut the allegations of the Respondents and had in fact partition with annulment of title and recovery of possession are
addressed every detail of. Respondent's cause of action against them. ordinary civil actions cognizable by a court of general jurisdiction, the
Thus, Petitioners' allegation of the Court a quo ‘s lack of jurisdiction is trial court exceeded its jurisdiction in entertaining the latter while it
misplaced. was sitting merely in its probate jurisdiction. This is in view of the
prohibition found in the Rules on the joiner of special civil actions
and ordinary civil actions. 25 Thus, petitioner argued that the ruling
Our pronouncement on the matter finds support in the explicit ruling of the trial court is void and has no effect for having been rendered in
of the Supreme Court in Sps. Santos, et al. v. Sps. Lumbao, thus: It is without jurisdiction.
elementary that' the active participation of a party in a case pending
against him before a court is tantamount to recognition of that
court's jurisdiction and willingness to abide by the resolution of the Petitioner also reiterates the arguments raised before the appellate
case which will bar said party from later on impugning the court’s court that since the finding of forgery relates only to the signature of
jurisdiction. ' In fine, under the circumstances obtaining in this case respondents and not to their co-heirs, who assented to the
the Petitioners are stopped from assailing the Court a quo 's lack of conveyance, the transaction should be considered valid as to them.
Petitioner also denies the indings of the courts below that his parents

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are builders in bad faith for they only took possession of the subject pending action for partition, or the sole heir who adjudicates the
properties after the execution of the transfer documents and after entire estate to himself by means of an affidavit shall file,
they paid the consideration on the sale. simultaneously with and as a condition precedent to the filing of the
public instrument, or stipulation in the action for partition, or of the
The petition is bereft of merit. Petitioner maintains that since. affidavit in the office of the register of deeds, a bond with the said
Respondents’ complaint alleged the following causes of action, the register of deeds, in an amount equivalent to the value of the
same is actually one for settlement of estate and not of judicial personal property involved as certified to under oath by the parties
partition: FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION concerned and conditioned upon the payment of any just claim that
may be filed under section 4 of this rule. It shall be presumed that the
decedent left no debts if no creditor files a petition for letters of
1. That Pedro L. Rifi.oza, Filipino and resident of Nasugbu, administration within two (2) years after the death of the decedent.
Batangas at the time of his death, died intestate on
November 16, 1989. Copy of his death certificate is hereto
attached as Annex "A"; The fact of the Extrajudicial settlement or administration shall be
Published in a newspaper of general circulation in the manner
provided in the next succeeding section; but no Extrajudicial
2. That Plaintiffs together with the Defendants enumerated settlement shall be binding upon any person who has not
from paragraph 2-A to 2-J are the only known heirs of the participated therein or had no notice thereof. 27
above-mentioned decedent. The plaintiffs and the
Defendants Rolando, Rafael, Antonio, Angelita, Loma all
surnamed Rifioza, and Myrna R. Limon or Myrna R. In this relation, Section 1, Rule 69 of the Rules of Court provides:
Rogador, Epifania Belo and Ma. Theresa R. Demafelix are
the decedent’s legitimate children with his first wife, while Section 1. Complaint in action for partition of real estate. - A person
Benita Tenorio Rifioza, is the decedent’s widow and having the right to compel the partition of real estate may do so as
Bernadette Rifioza, the decedent's daughter with said provided in this Rule, setting forth in his complaint the nature and
widow. As such, said parties are co-owners by virtue of an extent of his title and an adequate description of the real estate of
intestate inheritance from the decedent, of the properties which partition is demanded and joining as defendants all other
enumerated in the succeeding paragraph; ‘ persons interested in the property. 28

3. That the decedent left the following real properties all As can be gleaned from the foregoing provisions, the allegations of
located in Nasugbu, Batangas: respondents in their complaint are but customary, in fact, mandatory,
to a complaint for partition of real estate. Particularly, the complaint
xxxx alleged: (1) that Pedro died intestate; (2) that respondents, together
with their co-heirs, are all of legal age, with the exception of one who
is represented by a judicial representative duly authorized for the
16. That the estate of decedent Pedro L. Rifioza has no purpose; (3) that the heirs enumerated are the only known heirs of
known legal indebtedness; Pedro; (4) that there is an account and description of all real
properties left by Pedro; (5) that Pedro's estate has no known
17. That said estate remains undivided up to this date and indebtedness; and (6) that respondents, as rightful heirs to the
it will be to the best interest of all heirs that it be decedent’s estate, pray for the partition of the same in accordance
partitioned judicially. 26. with the laws of intestacy. It is clear, therefore, that based on the
allegations of the complaint, the case is one for judicial partition. That
Petitioner is mistaken. It is true that some of respondents' causes of the complaint alleged causes of action identifying the heirs of the
action pertaining to the properties left behind by the decedent decedent, properties of the estate, and their rights thereto, does not
Pedro, his known heirs, and the nature and extent of their interests perforce make it an action for settlement of estate.
thereon may fall under an action for settlement of estate. However, a
complete reading of the complaint would readily show that, based on It must be recalled that the general rule is that when a person dies
the nature of the suit, the llegations therein, and the relief’s prayed intestate, or, if testate, failed to name an executor in his will or the
for, the action, is clearly one for udicial partition with annulment of executor o named is incompetent, or refuses the trust, or. Fails to
title and recovery of possession. furnish the bond equipped by the Rules of Court, then the decedent's
estate shall be judicially administered and the competent court shall
Section 1, Rule 74 of the Rules of Court proyides: appoint a qualified administrator the order established in Section 6 of
Rule 78 of the Rules of Court. 29 An exception to this rule, however, is
found in the aforequoted Section 1 of Rule 4 wherein the heirs of a
RULE 74
decedent, who left no will and no debts due from is estate, may
Summary Settlement of Estate
divide the estate either extrajudicially or in an ordinary action or
partition without submitting the same for judicial administration nor
Section 1. Extrajudicial settlement by agreement between heirs. - If applying for the appointment of an administrator by the court. 30
the decedent left no will and no debts and the heirs are all of age5 or The reasons that where the deceased dies without pending
the minors are represented by their judicial or legal representatives obligations, there is no necessity for the appointment of an
duly authorized for the purpose, the parties may without securing administrator to administer the. Estate for hem and to deprive the
letters of administration, divide the estate among themselves as they real owners of their possession to which they are immediately
see fit by means of a public instrument filed in the office of the entitled. 31
register of deeds, and should they disagree, they may do so in an
ordinary action of partition. If there is only one heir, he may
In this case, it was expressly alleged in the complaint, and was not
adjudicate to himself the entire estate by means of an affidavit filled
isputed, that Pedro died without a will, leaving his estate without any
in the office of the register of deeds. The parties to an Extrajudicial
ending obligations. Thus, contrary to petitioner’s contention,
settlement, whether by public instrument or by stipulation in a

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respondents were under no legal obligation to submit the subject There is no dispute that a Torrens certificate of title cannot be
properties of the estate of a special proceeding for settlement of collaterally attacked, but that rule is not material to the case at bar.
intestate estate, and are, in fact, encouraged to have the same What cannot be collaterally attacked is the certificate of title and not
partitioned, judicially or extrajudicially, by ereira v. Court of Appeals: the title itself. The' certificate referred to is that -document issued by
32 the Register of Deeds known as the TCT. In contrast, the title referred
to by law means ownership, which is, more often than not,
Section 1, Rule 74 of the Revised Rules of Court, however, does not represented by that document. Petitioner c.pparently confuses title
preclude the heirs from instituting administration proceedings, even with the certificate of title. Title as a concept of ownership should not
if the estate has no· debts or obligations, if they do not desire to be confused with the certificate of title as evidence of such ownership
resort for good reasons to an ordinary action for partition. While although both are interchangeably used. (Emphases supplied)
Section 1 allows the heirs to divide the estate among themselves as
they may see fit, qr. to resort to an ordinary action for partition, the Thus, the RTC erroneously dismissed petitioner's petition for
said provision does not compel them to do so if they have good annulment of sale on the ground that it constituted a collateral attack
reasons to take a different course of action. It should be noted that since she was actually assailing Rogelio and Orlando's title to the
recourse to an administration proceeding even if the estate has no subject lands and not any Torrens certificate oftitle over the same.
debts is sanctioned only if the heirs have good reasons for not
resorting to an action for partition. Where partition is possible, either Indeed, an action for partition does not preclude the settlement of
in or out of court, the estate should not be burdened with an the issue of ownership. In fact, the determination as to the existence
administration proceeding without good and compelling reasons. of the same is necessary in the resolution of an action for partition, as
held in Municipality of Bifzan·v. Garcia: 40
Thus, it has been repeatedly 4eld that when a person dies without
leaving pending obligations to be paid, his heirs, whether of age or The first phase of a partition and/or accounting suit is taken up with
not, are not bound to submit the property to a judicial the determination of whether or not a co-ownership in fact exists,
administration, which is always long and costly, or to apply for the and a partition is proper (i.e., not otherwise legally proscribed) and
appointment of an administrator by the Court. It has been uniformly may be made by voluntary agreement of all the parties interested in
held that in such case the judicial administration and the the property. This phase may end with a declaration that plaintiff is
appointment of an administrator are superfluous and unnecessary not entitled to have a partition either because a co-ownership does
proceedings. 33 not exist, or partition is_ legally prohibited. It may end, on the other
hand, with an adjudgment that a co-ownership does in truth exist,
Thus, respondents committed no error in. filing an action for judicial partition is proper in the premises and an accounting of rents and
partition instead of a special proceeding for the settlement of estate profits received by the defendant from the real estate in question is
as law expressly permits the same.1avvphi1 That the complaint in order. x x x
contained allegations inherent in an action for settlement of estate
does not. Mean that there was a prohibited joined of causes of action The second phase commences when it appears that "the parties are
for questions as to the estate's properties as well as a determination unable to agree upon the partition" directed by the court. In that
of the heirs, their status as such, and the nature and extent of their event [,] partition shall be done for the parties by the [c] ourt with the
titles to the estate, may also be properly ventilated in partition assistance of not more than three (3) commissioners. This second
proceedings alone.34 In fact, a complete inventory of the estate may stage may well also deal with the rendition of the accounting itself
likewise be done during the partition proceedings, especially since and its approval by the [c] ourt after the. Parties have been accorded
the estate has no debts.~5 Indeed, where the more expeditious opportunity to be heard Thereon, and an award for the recovery by
remedy 9f partition is available to the heirs, then they may not be the party or parties thereto entitled of their just share in the rents and
compelled to submit to administration proceedings, dispensing of profits of the real estate in question. xx x. 41 ·
the risks of delay and of the properties being dissipated. 36

An action for partition, therefore, is premised on the existence or


Moreover, the fact that respondents' complaint also prayed for the non-existence of co-ownership between the parties. 42 Unless and
annulment of title and recovery of possession does not strip the trial until the issue of co-ownership is definitively resolved, it would be
court off of its jurisdiction to hear and decide the case. Asking for the premature to effect a partition of an estate. 43
annulment of certain transfers of property could very well be
achieved in an action for partition, 37 as can be seen in cases where
1-ourts determine the parties' rights arising from complaints asking In view of the foregoing, petitioner' s argument that the trial court
not only for the partition of estates but also for the annulment of acted without jurisdiction in entertaining the action of settlement of
titles and recovery of ownership and possession of property. 38 In estate and annulment of title in a single proceeding is clearly
fact, in Bagayas v. Bagayas, 39 ·wherein a complaint for annulment of erroneous for the instant complaint is precisely one for judicial
sale and partition was dismissed by the trial court due to the partition with annulment of title and recovery of possession, filed
impropriety of an action for annulment as it constituted a collateral within the confines of applicable law and jurisprudence. Under
attack on the certificates of title of the respondents therein, this Court Section 144 of Republic Act No. 7691 (RA 7691),45 amending Batas
found the dismissal to be improper in the following manner: Pambansa Big. 129, the RTC shall exercise exclusive original
jurisdiction over all civil actions in which the subject of the litigation is
incapable of pecuniary estimation. Since the action herein was not
In Lacbayan v. Samoy, Jr. (Lacbayan) which is an action. For partition merely for partition and recovery of ownership but also for
premised on the existence or non-existence of co-ownership annulment of title and documents, the action is incapable of
between the parties, the Court categorically pronounced that a pecuniary estimation and thus cognizable by the RTC. Hence,
resolution on the issue of ownership does not subject the Torrens considering that the trial court clearly had jurisdiction in rendering its
title issued over the disputed realties 'to a collateral attack. It must be decision, the instant petition for annulment of judgment must
borne in mind that what cannot be collaterally attacked is the necessarily fail.
certificate of title and not the title itself. As pronounced in Lacbayan:

TrinaFaye SPECPRO Review Page 5


Note that even if the instant action was one for annulment of title While it may be argued that Benita, one of the co-heirs to the estate,
alone, without the prayer for judicial partition, the requirement of actually acknowledged the sale of the resort, the circumstances
instituting a separate special proceeding for the determination of the surrounding the same militate against the fact of its occurrence. Not
status and rights of the respondents as putative heirs may be only was the Deed of Sale supposedly executed by Benita undated
dispensed with, in light of the fact that the parties had voluntarily and unsigned by Pedro, but the document she presented purportedly
submitted the issue to the trial court and had already presented evidencing her receipt of her share in the sale, did not refer to any
evidence regarding the issue of heirship. 46 In Portugal v. Portugal- sort of sale but to a previous loan obtained by Pedro and Benita from
Beltran, 47 the Court explained: a bank.

In the case at bar, respondent, believing rightly or wrongly that she Moreover, credence must be given on the appellate court’s
was the sole heir to Portugal's estate, executed on February 15, 1988 observations as to petitioners' actuations insofar as the transactions
the questioned Affidavit of Adjudication under the second sentence alleged herein are concerned. First, they were seemingly uncertain as
of Rule 74, Section 1 of the Revised Rules of Court. Said rule is an to the number and/or identity of the properties bought by them. 49
exception to the general rule that when a person dies leaving a In their Answer, they gave the impression 'that· they bought both the
property, it should be judicially administered and the competent resort and the family home and yet, during trial, Francisco Villafria
court should appoint a qualified administrator, in the order claimed they only bought the resort. In fact, it was only then that they
established in Sec. 6, Rule 78 in case the deceased left no will, or in presented the subject Extra Judicial Settlement and Deed of Sale. 50
case he did, he failed to name an executor therein. Second, they never presented any other document which w0uld
evidence their actual payment of consideration to the selling heirs. 51
xxxx Third, in spite of the. Blatant legal infirmities of the subject
documents of conveyance, petitioners still took possession of the
properties, demolished several cottages, and introduced permanent
It appearing, however, that in the present case the only property of improvements thereon.
the intestate estate of Portugal is the Caloocan parcel of land, to still
subject it, under the circumstances of the case, to a special
proceeding which could be long, hence, not expeditious, just to In all, the Court agrees with the appellate court: that petitioners failed
establish the status of petitioners as heirs is not only impractical; it is to adequately substantiate, with convincing, credible and
burdensome to the estate with the costs and expenses of an independently verifiable proof, their claim that they had, in fact,
administration proceeding. And it is superfluous in light of the fact purchased the subject properties. The circumstances surrounding the
that the parties to the evil case - subject of the present case, could purported transfers cast doubt on whether they actually took place.
and had already in fact presented evidence before the trial court In substantiating their claim, petitioners relied solely on the Extra-
which assumed jurisdiction over the case upon the issues it defined Judicial Settlement and Deed of Sale, who utterly failed to prove their
during pre-trial. authenticity and due execution. They cannot, therefore, be permitted
to claim. Absolute ownership of the subject lands based on the same.

In fine, under the circumstances of the present case, there being no


compelling reason to still subject · Portugal’s estate to administration Neither can they be considered as innocent purchasers for value and
proceedings since a determination of petitioners’ status as heirs builders in good faith. Good faith consists in the belief of title builder
could be achieved in the civil case filed by petitioners, the trial court that the land the latter is building on is one's own without knowledge
should proceed to evaluate the evidence presented by the parties of any defect or flaw in one's. Title. 52 However, in view of .the
during the trial and render a decision thereon upon the issues it manifest defects in the instruments conveying their titles, petitioners
defined during pre-trial, x x x. 48 should have been placed on guard. Yet, they still demolished several
cottages and constructed improvement on the properties. Thus, their
claim of. Good faith cannot be given credence.
Thus, in view of the clarity of respondents' complaint and the causes
of action alleged therein, as well as the fact that the trial court, in
arriving at its decision, gave petitioner more than ample opportunity Indeed, a judgment which has acquired finality becomes immutable
to advance his claims, petitioner cannot now be permitted to allege and unalterable, hence, may no longer be modified in any respect
lack of jurisdiction just because the judgment rendered was adverse except to correct clerical errors or mistakes, all the issues between the
to them. To repeat, the action filed herein is one for judicial partition parties being deemed resolved and. laid to rest. 53 it is a
and not for settlement of intestate estate. Consequently, that fundamental principle in our judicial system and essential to an
respondents also prayed for the annulment of title and recovery of effective and efficient administration of justice that, once a judgment
possession in the same proceeding does not strip the court off of its has become final, the winning party be, not through a mere
jurisdiction for asking for 'the annulment of certain transfers of subterfuge, deprived of the fruits of the verdict. 54 Exceptions to the
property could very well be achieved in an action for partition. immutability of final judgment is allowed only under the most
extraordinary of circumstances. 55 Yet, when petitioner is given more
than • ample opportunity to be heard, unbridled access to the
As for petitioner's contention that the sale must be considered valid appellate courts, as well as unbiased judgments rendered after a
as to the heirs who assented to the conveyance as well as their consideration of evidence presented by the parties, as in the case at
allegation of good faith, this Court does not find any compelling hand, the Court shall refrain from reversing the rulings of the courts
reason to deviate from the ruling of the appellate court. As below in the absence of any showing that the same were rendered
sufficiently found by both courts below, the authenticity and due with fraud or lack of jurisdiction. ·
execution of the documents on which petitioner’s claims are based
were inadequately proven. They were undated, forged, and
acknowledged before a notary public who was not commissioned as WHEREFORE, premises considered, .the instant petition is DENIED.
such on the date they were executed. They were never presented to The Decision and Resolution, dated March 13, 2009 and April 23,
the Register of Deeds for registration. Neither were the supposed 2009, respectively, of the Court Appeals for CA-G.R. SP No. 107347,
notaries and buyers of the subject properties presented as witnesses. which affirmed the Judgment dated October 1, 2001 of the Regional
Trial Court of Nasugbu, Batangas, Branch 14, in Civil Case No. 217,

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insofar as it conce1ns the resort covered by Transfer Certificates of The plaintiffs therein filed a motion for reconsideration which was,
Title No. 513 54 and No. 51355, and family home covered by TCT No. however, denied on August 31, 2011 due to the counsel’s failure to
40807 and 40808, are AFFIRMED. SO ORDERED. state the date on which his Mandatory Continuing Legal Education
Certificate of Compliance was issued.14
SECOND DIVISION G.R. No. 198680 July 8, 2013
Aggrieved, petitioners, who were among the plaintiffs in Civil Case
No. T-2246,15 sought direct recourse to the Court through the instant
HEIRS OF MAGDALENO YPON, NAMELY, ALVARO YPON,
petition.
ERUDITA Y. BARON, CICERO YPON, WILSON YPON, VICTOR
YPON, AND HINIDINO Y. PEÑALOSA, PETITIONERS,
vs. GAUDIOSO PONTERAS RICAFORTE A.K.A. "GAUDIOSO E. The Issue Before the Court
YPON," AND THE REGISTER OF DEEDS OF TOLEDO CITY,
RESPONDENTS. The core of the present controversy revolves around the issue of
whether or not the RTC’s dismissal of the case on the ground that the
RESOLUTION subject complaint failed to state a cause of action was proper.

PERLAS-BERNABE, J.: The Court’s Ruling

This is a direct recourse to the Court from the Regional Trial Court of The petition has no merit.
Toledo City, Branch 59 (RTC), through a petition for review on
certiorari1 under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, raising a pure question Cause of action is defined as the act or omission by which a party
of law. In particular, petitioners assail the July 27, 20112 and August violates a right of another.16 It is well-settled that the existence of a
31, 20113 Orders of the RTC, dismissing Civil Case No. T-2246 for lack cause of action is determined by the allegations in the complaint.17 In
of cause of action. this relation, a complaint is said to assert a sufficient cause of action
if, admitting what appears solely on its face to be correct, the plaintiff
The Facts would be entitled to the relief prayed for.18Accordingly, if the
allegations furnish sufficient basis by which the complaint can be
maintained, the same should not be dismissed, regardless of the
On July 29, 2010, petitioners, together with some of their cousins,4
defenses that may be averred by the defendants.19
filed a complaint for Cancellation of Title and Reconveyance with
Damages (subject complaint) against respondent Gaudioso Ponteras
Ricaforte a.k.a. "Gaudioso E. Ypon" (Gaudioso), docketed as Civil Case As stated in the subject complaint, petitioners, who were among the
No. T-2246.5 In their complaint, they alleged that Magdaleno Ypon plaintiffs therein, alleged that they are the lawful heirs of Magdaleno
(Magdaleno) died intestate and childless on June 28, 1968, leaving and based on the same, prayed that the Affidavit of Self-Adjudication
behind Lot Nos. 2-AA, 2-C, 2-F, and 2-J which were then covered by executed by Gaudioso be declared null and void and that the transfer
Transfer Certificates of Title (TCT) Nos. T-44 and T-77-A.6 Claiming to certificates of title issued in the latter’s favor be cancelled. While the
be the sole heir of Magdaleno, Gaudioso executed an Affidavit of foregoing allegations, if admitted to be true, would consequently
Self-Adjudication and caused the cancellation of the aforementioned warrant the reliefs sought for in the said complaint, the rule that the
certificates of title, leading to their subsequent transfer in his name determination of a decedent’s lawful heirs should be made in the
under TCT Nos. T-2637 and T-2638,7 to the prejudice of petitioners corresponding special proceeding20 precludes the RTC, in an ordinary
who are Magdaleno’s collateral relatives and successors-in-interest.8 action for cancellation of title and reconveyance, from granting the
same. In the case of Heirs of Teofilo Gabatan v. CA,21 the Court, citing
several other precedents, held that the determination of who are the
In his Answer, Gaudioso alleged that he is the lawful son of
decedent’s lawful heirs must be made in the proper special
Magdaleno as evidenced by: (a) his certificate of Live Birth; (b) two (2)
proceeding for such purpose, and not in an ordinary suit for recovery
letters from Polytechnic School; and (c) a certified true copy of his
of ownership and/or possession, as in this case:
passport.9 Further, by way of affirmative defense, he claimed that: (a)
petitioners have no cause of action against him; (b) the complaint
fails to state a cause of action; and (c) the case is not prosecuted by Jurisprudence dictates that the determination of who are the legal
the real parties-in-interest, as there is no showing that the petitioners heirs of the deceased must be made in the proper special
have been judicially declared as Magdaleno’s lawful heirs.10 proceedings in court, and not in an ordinary suit for recovery of
ownership and possession of property.1âwphi1 This must take
precedence over the action for recovery of possession and
The RTC Ruling
ownership. The Court has consistently ruled that the trial court
cannot make a declaration of heirship in the civil action for the
On July 27, 2011, the RTC issued the assailed July 27, 2011 Order,11 reason that such a declaration can only be made in a special
finding that the subject complaint failed to state a cause of action proceeding. Under Section 3, Rule 1 of the 1997 Revised Rules of
against Gaudioso. It observed that while the plaintiffs therein had Court, a civil action is defined as one by which a party sues another
established their relationship with Magdaleno in a previous special for the enforcement or protection of a right, or the prevention or
proceeding for the issuance of letters of administration,12 this did not redress of a wrong while a special proceeding is a remedy by which a
mean that they could already be considered as the decedent’s party seeks to establish a status, a right, or a particular fact. It is then
compulsory heirs. Quite the contrary, Gaudioso satisfactorily decisively clear that the declaration of heirship can be made only in a
established the fact that he is Magdaleno’s son – and hence, his special proceeding inasmuch as the petitioners here are seeking the
compulsory heir – through the documentary evidence he submitted establishment of a status or right.
which consisted of: (a) a marriage contract between Magdaleno and
Epegenia Evangelista; (b) a Certificate of Live Birth; (c) a Letter dated
In the early case of Litam, et al. v. Rivera, this Court ruled that the
February 19, 1960; and (d) a passport.13
declaration of heirship must be made in a special proceeding, and

TrinaFaye SPECPRO Review Page 7


not in an independent civil action. This doctrine was reiterated in The Antecedents:
Solivio v. Court of Appeals x x x:
On May 25, 2008, Rosario Guy-Juco Villasin Casilan (Rosario), the
In the more recent case of Milagros Joaquino v. Lourdes Reyes, the widow of the late Primo Villasin (Primo), passed away and left a
Court reiterated its ruling that matters relating to the rights of holographic Last Will and Testament,5 wherein she named her sister,
filiation and heirship must be ventilated in the proper probate court Remedios Tiu (Remedios), and her niece, Manuela Azucena Mayor
in a special proceeding instituted precisely for the purpose of (Manuela), as executors. Immediately thereafter, Remedios and
determining such rights. Citing the case of Agapay v. Palang, this Manuela filed a petition for the probate of Rosario's holographic will6
Court held that the status of an illegitimate child who claimed to be with prayer for the issuance of letters testamentary (probate
an heir to a decedent's estate could not be adjudicated in an ordinary proceedings). The petition was raffled to the Regional Trial Court,
civil action which, as in this case, was for the recovery of property. 22 Branch 9, Tacloban City (RTC-Br. 9) and docketed as Sp. Proc. No.
(Emphasis and underscoring supplied; citations omitted) 2008-05-30. They averred that Rosario left properties valued at
approximately ₱2.5 million.
By way of exception, the need to institute a separate special
proceeding for the determination of heirship may be dispensed with On May 29, 2008, respondent Damiana Charito Marty (Marty)
for the sake of practicality, as when the parties in the civil case had claiming to be the adopted daughter of Rosario, filed a petition for
voluntarily submitted the issue to the trial court and already letters of administration before the RTC, Branch 34, Tacloban City
presented their evidence regarding the issue of heirship, and the RTC (RTC- Br. 34), docketed as Sp. Proc. No. 2008-05-32, but it was not
had consequently rendered judgment thereon,23 or when a special given due course because of the probate proceedings. Per records,
proceeding had been instituted but had been finally closed and this dismissal is subject of a separate proceeding filed by Marty with
terminated, and hence, cannot be re-opened.24 the CA Cebu City, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 04003.7

In this case, none of the foregoing exceptions, or those of similar On June 12, 2008, in its Order,8 the RTC-Br. 9 found the petition for
nature, appear to exist. Hence, there lies the need to institute the probate of will filed by Remedios and Manuela as sufficient in form
proper special proceeding in order to determine the heirship of the and substance and set the case for hearing.
parties involved, ultimately resulting to the dismissal of Civil Case No.
T-2246. Consequently, Marty filed her Verified Urgent Manifestation and
Motion,9 dated June 23, 2008, stating that Remedios kept the
Verily, while a court usually focuses on the complaint in determining decedent Rosario a virtual hostage for the past ten (10) years and her
whether the same fails to state a cause of action, a court cannot family was financially dependent on her which led to the wastage and
disregard decisions material to the proper appreciation of the disposal of the properties owned by her and her husband, Primo.
questions before it.25 Thus, concordant with applicable jurisprudence, Marty averred that until the alleged will of the decedent could be
since a determination of heirship cannot be made in an ordinary probated and admitted, Remedios and her ten (10) children had no
action for recovery of ownership and/or possession, the dismissal of standing to either possess or control the properties comprising the
Civil Case No. T-2246 was altogether proper. In this light, it must be estate of the Villasins. She prayed for the probate court to: 1) order
pointed out that the RTC erred in ruling on Gaudioso’s heirship which an immediate inventory of all the properties subject of the
should, as herein discussed, be threshed out and determined in the proceedings; 2) direct the tenants of the estate, namely, Mercury
proper special proceeding. As such, the foregoing pronouncement Drug and Chowking, located at Primrose Hotel, to deposit their
should therefore be devoid of any legal effect. rentals with the court; 3) direct Metro bank, P. Burgos Branch, to
freeze the accounts in the name of Rosario, Primrose Development
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The dismissal of Civil Case No. Corporation (Primrose) or Remedios; and 4) lock up the Primrose
T-2246 is hereby AFFIRMED, without prejudice to any subsequent Hotel in order to preserve the property until final disposition by the
proceeding to determine the lawful heirs of the late Magdaleno Ypon court.
and the rights concomitant therewith. SO ORDERED.
On July 8, 2008, Remedios and Manuela filed their
Comment/Opposition10 to the urgent manifestation averring that
SECOND DIVISION November 23, 2016 G.R. No. 203770
Marty was not an adopted child of the Villasins based on a
certification issued by the Office of the Clerk of Court of Tacloban
MANUELA AZUCENA MAYOR, Petitioner City, attesting that no record of any adoption proceedings involving
vs. EDWIN TIU and DAMIANA CHARITO MARTY, Respondents Marty existed in their records. They also argued that the probate
court had no jurisdiction over the properties mistakenly claimed by
DECISION Marty as part of Rosario's estate because these properties were
actually owned by, and titled in the name of, Primrose. Anent the
prayer to direct the tenants to deposit the rentals to the probate
MENDOZA, J.:
court, Remedios and Manuela countered that the probate court had
no jurisdiction over properties owned by third persons, particularly by
This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules Primrose, the latter having a separate and distinct personality from
of Court assailing the October 5, 20111 and September 24, 20122 the decedent's estate.
Resolutions of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 06256,
which dismissed the petition filed by Remedios Tiu (Remedios) and
In her Reply,11 dated July 15, 2008, Marty cited an order of the Court
Manuela Azucena Mayor (Manuela) for procedural infirmities. The
of First Instance of Leyte (CF! Leyte) in SP No. 1239,12 claiming that
said CA petition challenged the January 20, 20113 and June 10, 20114
as early as March 3, 1981, the veil of corporate entity of Primrose was
Orders of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 6, Tacloban City (RTC-Br.
pierced on the ground that it was a closed family corporation
6), in Sp. Proc. No. 2008-05-30, a case for Probate of Last Will and
controlled by Rosario after Primo's death. Thus, Marty alleged that
Testament and Issuance of Letters of Testamentary.
"piercing" was proper in the case of Rosario's estate because the

TrinaFaye SPECPRO Review Page 8


incorporation of Primrose was founded on a fraudulent questioned properties was only for the purpose of determining
consideration, having been done in contemplation of Primo's death. whether such properties ought to be included in the inventory. When
the probate court applied the doctrine of "piercing," in effect, it
Further, on July 22, 2008, in her Opposition to the Petition for the adjudicated with finality the ownership of the properties in favor of
Approval of the Will of the Late Rosario Guy-Juco Villasin Casilan,13 the Estate. The CA stated that RTC-Br. 9 had no jurisdiction to
Marty impugned the authenticity of her holographic will. adjudicate ownership of a property claimed by another based on
adverse title; and that questions like this must be submitted to a
court of general jurisdiction and not to a probate court.
Meanwhile, Edwin Tiu (Edwin), a son of Remedios, also filed his
Opposition,14 dated June 13, 2008.
The CA added that assuming that the probate court's determination
on the issue of ownership was merely intended to be provisional,
After a protracted exchange of pleadings, the parties submitted their Marty's contentions still had no merit. The properties, which she
respective memoranda. claimed to be part of the estate of Rosario and over which she
claimed co-ownership, comprised of real properties registered under
The January 14, 2009 Order the Torrens system. As such, Primrose was considered the owner until
the titles to those properties were nullified in an appropriate ordinary
In its January 14, 2009 Order,15 the RTC-Br. 9 granted the motion of action. The CA further stated that the RTC erroneously relied on the
Marty and appointed the OIC Clerk of Court as special administrator order issued by the CFI Leyte in 1981, in the probate proceedings
of the Estate. The Probate Court also ordered Mercury Drug and involving the estate of Primo. Whatever determination the CFI made
Chowking to deposit the rental income to the court and Metrobank at the time regarding the title of the properties was merely
to freeze the bank accounts mentioned in the motion of Marty. The provisional, hence, not conclusive as to the ownership.
doctrine of piercing the corporate veil was applied in the case
considering that Rosario had no other properties that comprised her By reason of the favorable decision by the CA, Remedios and
estate other than Primrose. According to the probate court, for the Manuela filed their Motion to Partially Revoke the Writ of Execution
best interest of whoever would be adjudged as the legal heirs of the Enforcing the January 14, 2009 Order of the Honorable Court and
Estate, it was best to preserve the properties from dissipation. Manifestation in Compliance with the October 21, 2009 Order (Ad
Cautelam),21 dated October 27, 2009.
On January 22, 2009, Remedios and Manuela filed their Motion for
Inhibition16 on the ground of their loss of trust and confidence in In its Order,22 dated November 17, 2009, the RTC-Br. 6 partially
RTC-Br. 9 Presiding Judge Rogelio C. Sescon (Judge Sescon) to granted the motion as it revoked the power of the special
dispense justice. Later, they also filed their Motion for administrator to oversee the day-to-day operations of Primrose. It
Reconsideration Ad Cautelam,17 dated February 3, 2009, arguing that also revoked the order with respect to Mercury Drug and Chowking,
Rosario's estate consisted only of shares of stock in Primrose and not reasoning out that the said establishments dealt with Primrose, which
the corporation itself. Thus, the probate court could not order the had a personality distinct and separate from the estate of the
lessees of the corporation to remit the rentals to the Estate's decedent. In the said order, Atty. Blanche A. Salino nominated by
administrator. With regard to the appointment of a special oppositors Marty and Edwin, was appointed special administrator to
administrator, Remedios and Manuela insisted that it be recalled. oversee the day-to-day operations of the estate. The same order also
They claimed that if ever there was a need to appoint one, it should upheld the January 14, 2009 Order, as to the conduct and inventory
be the two of them because it was the desire of the decedent in the of all the properties comprising the estate.
will subject of the probation proceedings.
This order was not questioned or appealed by the parties.
In its Order,18 dated March 27, 2009, the RTC-Br. 9 denied the
motion for reconsideration for lack of merit and affirmed its January Omnibus Motion
14, 2009 Order. The presiding judge, Judge Sescon, also granted the
motion for inhibition and ordered that the records of the case be
referred to the RTC Executive Judge for reraffling. The case was later On September 24, 2010, or almost ten (10) months after the
re-raffled to RTC-Br.6, Judge Alphinor C. Serrano, presiding judge. November 17, 2009 Order of the probate court was issued, Marty,
together with her new counsel, filed her Omnibus Motion,23 praying
for the probate court to: 1) order Remedios and Manuela to render
Aggrieved by the denial of their motion for reconsideration, an accounting of all the properties and assets comprising the estate
Remedios and Manuela filed a petition for certiorari with the CA in of the decedent; 2) deposit or consign all rental payments or other
Cebu City, docketed as CA-G.R. S.P. No. 04254, assailing the January passive income derived from the properties comprising the estate;
14, 2009 and March 27, 2009 Orders of the RTC-Br. 9.19 and 3) prohibit the disbursement of funds comprising the estate of
the decedent without formal motion and approval by the probate
Ruling of the CA court.

In its October 16, 2009 Decision,20 the CA reversed the assailed Ruling of the RTC-Br. 6
orders of the RTC Br. 9, except as to the appointment of a special
administrator insofar as this relates to properties specifically In its January 20, 2011 Order, the RTC-Br. 6 granted Marty's Omnibus
belonging to the "Estate." It held that Primrose had a personality Motion. Although it agreed with the October 16, 2009 CA Decision
separate and distinct from the estate of the decedent and that reversing the January 14, 2009 Order of the RTC-Br. 9, nonetheless, it
the probate court had no jurisdiction to apply the doctrine of acknowledged the urgency and necessity of appointing a special
piercing the corporate veil. administrator. According to the probate court, considering that there
was clear evidence of a significant decrease of Rosario's shares in the
According to the CA, nowhere in the assailed orders of the probate outstanding capital stock of Primrose,24 prudence dictated that an
court was it stated that its determination of the title of the inquiry into the validity of the transfers should be made. A final

TrinaFaye SPECPRO Review Page 9


determination of this matter would be outside the limited jurisdiction Remedios and Manuela moved for reconsideration of the assailed CA
of the probate court, but it was likewise settled that the power to resolution, but to no avail, as the appellate court denied the motion
institute an action for the recovery of a property claimed to be part of in its September 24, 2012 Resolution.
the estate was normally lodged with the executor or administrator.
Thus, the probate court disposed: Hence, this petition before the Court, filed only by Manuela as
Remedios had also passed away, and anchored on the following
WHEREFORE, for the reasons aforestated, and so as not to render
moot any action that the special administrator, or the regular GROUNDS
administrator upon the latter's qualification and appointment, may
deem appropriate to take on the matter (i.e. Whether or not to
institute in the name of the estate the appropriate action for the I.
recovery of the shares of stock), this Court hereby GRANTS
Oppositor Marty's Omnibus Motion, dated September 24, 2010, and THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GROSS AND
thus hereby: REVERSIBLE ERROR IN THE APPLICATION OF LAW AND THE
RULES WARRANTING REVIEW WHEN IT MISAPPLIED SECTION
1. DIRECTS petitioners, either individually or jointly, to: (a) RENDER 13, RULE 13 OF THE RULES OF COURT AND DECLARED THAT
AN ACCOUNTING of all the properties and assets comprising the THERE WAS NO PROPER PROOF OF SERVICE BY REGISTERED
estate of the decedent that may have come into their possession; MAIL.
and, (b) DEPOSIT OR CONSIGN all the rentals payments or such
other passive incomes from the properties and assets registered in II.
the name of Primrose Development Corporation, including all income
derived from the Primrose Hotel and the lease contracts with Mercury THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GROSS AND
Drug and Chowking Restaurant, both within fifteen (15) days from REVERSIBLE ERROR IN THE APPLICATION OF LAW AND THE
receipt of this Order; RULES WARRANTING REVIEW WHEN IT MISAPPLIED
JURISPRUDENCE AND RULE 65 AND IT HELD THAT PETITIONER
2. DIRECTS the Special Administrator to take possession and charge MAYOR DID NOT COMPLY WITH THE MATERIAL DATE RULE.
of the properties comprising the decedent's estate, specially those
pertaining to the sharesholding of the decedent in Primrose III.
Development Corporation, to determine whether or not action for
the recovery of the shares of stock supposedly transferred from the
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GROSS AND
decedent to petitioners Remedios Tiu, Manuela Azucena Mayor
REVERSIBLE ERROR IN THE APPLICATION OF LAW AND THE
should be instituted in the name of the estate against the said
RULES WARRANTING REVIEW WHEN IT DECLARED THAT
transferees and to submit a Report on the foregoing matters to this
PETITIONER MAYOR FAILED TO COMPLY WITH THE
Court, within fifteen (15) days from receipt of this Order; and,
REQUIREMENT OF SECTION 1, RULE 65 FOR FAILING TO ATTACH
CERTIFIED TRUE COPY OF THE ORDER OF THE TRIAL COURT.
3. ORDERS that no funds comprising the estate of the decedent shall
be disbursed without formal Motion therefor, with the conformity of
IV.
the Special Administrator, duly approved by this Court.

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GROSS AND


SO ORDERED.25 [Underscoring supplied]
REVERSIBLE ERROR IN THE APPLICATION OF LAW AND THE
RULES WARRANTING REVIEW WHEN IT DECLARED THAT
The partial motion for reconsideration of the above order filed by PETITIONER MAYOR DID NOT COMPLY WITH THE
Remedios and Manuela was denied in the other assailed order of the REQUIREMENT OF VERIFICATION AND CERTIFICATION AGAINST
RTC-Br. 6, dated June 10, 2011.26 FORUM SHOPPING.

Dissatisfied, Remedios and Manuela availed of the special civil action V.


of certiorari under Rule 65, and filed a petition before the CA.

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GROSS AND


Action by the CA REVERSIBLE ERROR IN THE APPLICATION OF LAW AND THE
RULES WARRANTING REVIEW WHEN IT ALLOWED
The CA, however, in its October 5, 2011 Resolution,27 dismissed the TECHNICALITIES TO BE USED TO DEFEAT SUBSTANTIAL RIGHT
same based on the following infirmities: 1) there was no proper proof OF THE PARTIES.
of service of a copy of the petition on the respondents which was
sent by registered mail; 2) petitioners failed to indicate on the VI.
petition the material date when the motion for reconsideration was
filed; 3) the copy of the assailed order was not certified true and
PETITIONERS HA VE GOOD CAUSE AND A MERITORIOUS CASE
correct by the officer having custody of the original copy; and 4) the
AGAINST HEREIN RESPONDENTS AS PARAGRAPH l(B) OF THE
serial number of the commission of the notary public, the province-
DISPOSITIVE PORTION OF THE FIRST ASSAILED ORDER SHOULD
city where he was commissioned, the office address of the notary
HA VE BEEN REVERSED BECAUSE IT OVERTURNS THE DECISION
public and the roll of attorney's number were not properly indicated
OF THE COURT OF APPEALS DATED 16 OCTOBER 2009 WHICH
on the verification and certification of non-forum shopping.
HAS LONG BECOME FINAL AND EXECUTORY.28

Petitioner Manuela argued that:

TrinaFaye SPECPRO Review Page 10


1) There was actual compliance with Section 13, Rule 13 of In her Supplement to the Motion for Issuance of Temporary
the Rules of Court. The CA petition was accompanied by a Restraining Order and Writ of Preliminary Injunction,41 dated June
notarized affidavit of service and filing of registered mail. 17, 2013, Manuela informed the Court that the inventory and
At the time the petition was filed, this was the best accounting of Primrose would already commence on June 19, 2013.
evidence of the service. The other registry receipts for the
other parties were also attached to the petition. Further, Marty filed her Opposition,42 dated July 3, 2013, stating that the
the available registry return card was furnished the CA in petition of Manuela had been rendered moot and academic as the
the motion for reconsideration.29 probate court had declared her as the sole heir of Rosario and
appointed her administrator of the estate. She argued that an
2) The failure of the petition to comply with the rule on a injunctive relief would work injustice to the estate because of the
statement of material dates could be excused because the total assimilation by petitioner of the shareholdings of the decedent
dates were evident from the records.30 in Primrose and her share in the corporation's income corresponding
to her shareholdings.
3) The petitioner went to the RTC of Tacloban to secure
certified true copies of the assailed orders. Only the Finding that the requisites for preliminary injunctive relief were
stamped name of the Clerk of Court, however, appeared present,43 the Court issued the TRO44 in favor of Manuela on
thereon, because the particular branch had no stamp pad October 14, 2013. At the outset, the Court was convinced that the
which had the phrase for certification. The branch did not rights of Primrose sought to be protected by the grant of injunctive
even have a typewriter in order to affix the phrase on the relief were material and substantial and the TRO was issued in order
copies. These inadequacies could not be attributed to the to prevent any irreparable damage to a corporate entity that could
petitioners.31 arise from the conduct of an accounting by the court-appointed
inventory.
4) The lack of information pertaining to the notary public in
the verification and certification against forum-shopping The Court's Ruling
should not invalidate the same because, again, it was not
attributable to the parties.32 The Court now resolves the subject case by the issuance of a
permanent injunction, as prayed for by petitioner Manuela. This
5) Technicalities should never be used to defeat the position is supported by law and jurisprudence, as follows:
substantive rights of a party.33
First. Artificial persons include (1) a collection or succession of
In its January 23, 2013 Resolution34 the Court ordered the natural persons forming a corporation; and (2) a collection of
respondents to file their respective comments. Marty, in her property to which the law attributes the capacity of having rights and
Comment, insisted that the petitioner failed to comply with the duties. This class of artificial persons is recognized only to a limited
procedural requirements as stated by the CA.35 extent in our law. Example is the estate of a bankrupt or deceased
person.45 From this pronouncement, it can be gleaned that the
In her Reply to Comment,36 petitioner Manuela clarified that the estate of the deceased person is a juridical person separate and
affidavit of service was executed on August 31, 2011, which was after distinct from the person of the decedent and any other corporation.
the petition was signed by the lawyers and after it was verified by the This status of an estate comes about by operation of law. This is in
petitioner herself. After contesting Marty's arguments on the alleged consonance with the basic tenet under corporation law that a
procedural infirmities of the petitions with the CA and this Court, corporation has a separate personality distinct from its stockholders
Manuela asserted that the final and executory October 16, 2009 and from other corporations to which it may be connected.46
Decision of the CA already held that Primrose had a personality
separate and distinct from the estate of decedent Rosario. Second. The doctrine of piercing the corporate veil has no relevant
application in this case. Under this doctrine, the court looks at the
Meanwhile, in his Manifestation,37 dated May 29, 2013, Edwin corporation as a mere collection of individuals or an aggregation of
affirmed that he and Manuela decided to patch up their differences persons undertaking business as a group, disregarding the separate
and agreed to settle amicably. Accordingly, he manifested that he juridical personality of the corporation unifying the group. Another
was withdrawing from the case pursuant to their agreement. formulation of this doctrine is that when two business enterprises are
owned, conducted and controlled by the same parties, both law and
equity will, when necessary to protect the rights of third parties,
On June 18, 2014, Manuela filed her Motion for Issuance of disregard the legal fiction that two corporations are distinct entities
Temporary Restraining Order and Writ of Preliminary Injunction38 on and treat them as identical or as one and the same.47 The purpose
the ground that a flurry of orders had been issued by the RTC-Br. 6 in behind piercing a corporation's identity is to remove the barrier
the implementation of the assailed January 20, 2011 Order, such as between the corporation and the persons comprising it to thwart the
the Order,39 dated May 27, 2013, wherein the probate court vaguely fraudulent and illegal schemes of those who use the corporate
ordered "the inventory of the exact extent of the 'decedent's estate."' personality as a shield for undertaking certain proscribed activities.48
Then another order was issued appointing an auditing firm to
conduct an inventory/audit of the Estate including the rentals and
earnings derived from the lease of Mercury Drug and Chowking Here, instead of holding the decedent's interest in the corporation
Restaurant, as tenants of Primrose.40 According to petitioner separately as a stockholder, the situation was reversed. Instead, the
Manuela, although an inventory of the assets of the decedent was probate court ordered the lessees of the corporation to remit rentals
proper, the probate court ordered an inventory of the assets of to the estate's administrator without taking note of the fact that the
Primrose, a separate and distinct entity. Manuela asserts that it was decedent was not the absolute owner of Primrose but only an owner
clearly in error. of shares thereof. Mere ownership by a single stockholder or by
another corporation of all or nearly all of the capital stocks of a
corporation is not of itself a sufficient reason for disregarding the

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fiction of separate corporate personalities.49 Moreover, to disregard evidence purporting to support a claim of ownership has to yield to
the separate juridical personality of a corporation, the wrongdoing the incontestability of a Torrens title, until after the same has been
cannot be presumed, but must be clearly and convincingly set aside in the manner indicated in the law itself. In other words, the
established.50 existence of a Torrens title may not be discounted as a mere incident
in special proceedings for the settlement of the estate of deceased
Third. A probate court is not without limits in the determination of persons. Put clearly, if a property covered by Torrens title is involved,
the scope of property covered in probate proceedings. In a litany of "the presumptive conclusiveness of such title should be given due
cases, the Court had defined the parameters by which a probate weight, and in the absence of strong compelling evidence to the
court may extend its probing arms in the determination of the contrary, the holder thereof should be considered as the owner of the
question of title in probate proceedings. In Pastor, Jr. vs. Court of property in controversy until his title is nullified or modified in an
Appeals,51 the Court explained that, as a rule, the question of appropriate ordinary action, particularly, when as in the case at bar,
ownership was an extraneous matter which the probate court could possession of the property itself is in the persons named in the
not resolve with finality. Thus, for the purpose of determining title."55
whether a certain property should, or should not, be included in the
inventory of estate properties, the probate court may pass upon the Additionally, Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 152956 proscribes a
title thereto, but such determination is provisional, not conclusive, collateral attack on a Torrens title:
and is subject to the final decision in a separate action to resolve title.
It is a well-settled rule that a probate court or one in charge of Sec. 48. Certificate not subject to collateral attack. - A certificate of
proceedings, whether testate or intestate, cannot adjudicate or title shall not be subject to collateral attack.1âwphi1 It cannot be
determine title to properties claimed to be part of the estate but altered, modified or cancelled except in a direct proceeding in
which are equally claimed to belong to outside parties. It can only accordance with law.
determine whether they should, or should not, be included in the
inventory or list of properties to be overseen by the administrator. If
there is no dispute, well and good; but if there is, then the parties, the In Cuizon vs. Ramolete,57 the property subject of the controversy was
administrator and the opposing parties have to resort to an ordinary duly registered under the Torrens system. To this, Court categorically
action for a final determination of the conflicting claims of title stated:
because the probate court cannot do so.52
Having been apprised of the fact that the property in question was in
In this case, respondent Marty argues that the subject properties and the possession of third parties and more important, covered by a
the parcel of land on which these were erected should be included in transfer certificate of title issued in the name of such third parties,
the inventory of Rosario's estate. More so, the arrears from the rental the respondent court should have denied the motion of the
of these properties were later on ordered to be remitted to the respondent administrator and excluded the property in question
administrator of the estate grounded on the allegation that Rosario from the inventory of the property of the estate. It had no
had no other properties other than her interests in Primrose. To the authority to deprive such third persons of their possession and
Court's mind, this holding of the probate court was in utter disregard ownership of the property. 58 xxx [Emphasis and underscoring
of the undisputed fact the subject land is registered under the supplied]
Torrens system in the name of Primrose, a third person who may be
prejudiced by the orders of the probate court. In Valera vs. Inserto:53 A perusal of the records of this case would show that that no
the Court stated: compelling evidence was ever presented to substantiate the position
of Marty that Rosario and Primrose were one and the same, justifying
xxx, settled is the rule that a Court of First Instance (now Regional the inclusion of the latter's properties in the inventory of the
Trial Court), acting as a probate court, exercises but limited decedent's properties. This has remained a vacant assertion. At most,
jurisdiction, and thus has no power to take cognizance of and what Rosario owned were shares of stock in Primrose. In turn, this
determine the issue of title to property claimed by a third person boldly underscores the fact that Primrose is a separate and distinct
adversely to the decedent, unless the claimant and all the other personality from the estate of the decedent. Inasmuch as the real
parties having legal interest in the property consent, expressly or properties included in the inventory of the estate of Rosario are in
impliedly, to the submission of the question to the probate court for the possession of, and are registered in the name of, Primrose,
adjudgment, or the interests of third persons are not thereby Marty's claims are bereft of any logical reason and conclusion to
prejudiced, the reason for the exception being that the question of pierce the veil of corporate fiction.
whether or not a particular matter should be resolved by the Court in
the exercise of its general jurisdiction or of its limited jurisdiction as a Fourth. The probate court in this case has not acquired jurisdiction
special court (e.g. probate, land registration, etc.), is in reality not a over Primrose and its properties. Piercing the veil of corporate entity
jurisdictional but in essence of procedural one, involving a mode of applies to determination of liability not of jurisdiction; it is basically
practice which may be waived. applied only to determine established liability. It is not available to
confer on the court a jurisdiction it has not acquired, in the first place,
xxxx over a party not impleaded in a case.59 This is so because the
doctrine of piercing the veil of corporate fiction comes to play only
during the trial of the case after the court has already acquired
xxx These considerations assume greater cogency where, as here, jurisdiction over the corporation. Hence, before this doctrine can be
the Torrens title to the property is not in the decedent's names even applied, based on the evidence presented, it is imperative that
but in others, a situation on which this Court has already had the court must first have jurisdiction over the corporation.60
occasion to rule.54 [Emphasis and underscoring supplied]

Hence, a corporation not impleaded in a suit cannot be subject to the


Thus, the probate court should have recognized the incontestability court's process of piercing the veil of its corporate fiction. Resultantly,
accorded to the Torrens title of Primrose over Marty's arguments of any proceedings taken against the corporation and its properties
possible dissipation of properties. In fact, in the given setting, even would infringe on its right to due process.

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In the case at bench, the probate court applied the doctrine of attack, assault and employ personal violence upon the person of one
piercing the corporate veil ratiocinating that Rosario had no other RONALDO CUENO Y BONIFACIO, by then and there stabbing him
properties that comprise her estate other than her shares in Primrose. repeatedly with bladed weapons, hitting him on the different parts of
Although the probate court's intention to protect the decedent's his body, thereby inflicting upon him serious and mortal stab wounds
shares of stock in Primrose from dissipation is laudable, it is still an which were the direct and immediate cause of his death, to the
error to order the corporation's tenants to remit their rental damage and prejudice of the heirs of Ronaldo Cueno y Bonifacio.
payments to the estate of Rosario.
CONTRARY TO LAW.5
Considering the above disquisition, the Court holds that a permanent
and final injunction is in order in accordance with Section 9, Rule 58 Appellant was arraigned on 11 October 2005, and entered a plea of
of the Rules of Court which provides that "[i]f after the trial of the not guilty to the charge. Pre-trial conference was terminated on 26
action it appears that the applicant is entitled to have the act or acts October 2005, and trial on the merits ensued.
complained of permanently enjoined, the court shall grant a final
injunction perpetually restraining the party or person enjoined from
the commission or continuance of the act or acts or confirming the The CA summarized the parties’ evidence as follows:
preliminary mandatory injunction." Undoubtedly, Primrose stands to
suffer an irreparable injury from the subject order of the probate The Prosecution[’s] Evidence
court.
Mercelinda Valzado, sister-in-law of the victim Rolando Cueno,
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Temporary Restraining testified that on September 1, 2005 at around 6:00 p.m., she was in
Order, dated June 14, 2013, is hereby made PERMANENT, effective her house located in [sic] Lot 34, Block 4, Sipna Compound, Bagong
immediately. The Regional Trial Court, Branch 6, Tacloban City, is Silangan, Quezon City. She was about to leave the house to go to the
ENJOINED from enforcing and implementing its January 20, 2011 market when she saw appellant, his brother Larry Lipata and a certain
and June 10, 2011 Orders, insofar as the corporate properties of [Rudy] attacking the victim by repeatedly stabbing him. She was at a
Primrose Development Corporation are concerned, to avert distance of more or less ten (10) meters from the incident. Shocked at
irreparable damage to a corporate entity, separate and distinct from what she had just witnessed, she shouted for help and pleaded the
the Estate of Rosario Guy-Juco Villasin Casilan. SO ORDERED. assailants to stop, but they did not stop stabbing the victim. In her
account, she recalled that the assailants, including appellant, used a
tres
SECOND DIVISION April 20, 2016 G.R. No. 200302

cantos, an ice pick and a broken piece of glass of Red Horse [bottle].
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee,
At one point, the victim managed to take the knife away from
vs. GERRY LIPATA y ORTIZA, Appellant.
appellant and brandished the same at his attackers. Thereafter, the
victim fell on the ground. Upon seeing the victim fall, appellant and
DECISION the other assailants left the scene. Through the help of some
neighbors, Mercelinda rushed the victim to a hospital but he was
CARPIO, J.: pronounced dead on arrival.

The Case Criz Reymiluz Cueno, daughter of the victim, testified that she saw
appellant together with Larry Lipata and Rudy Lipata [stab] her father
to death in front of their house. She recounted that upon arriving at
G.R. No. 200302 is an appeal 1 assailing the Decision2 promulgated
home from work on September 1, 2005 at around 6:00 p.m., her
on 31May2011 by the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No.
father immediately went to the house of her aunt Mercelinda
04461. The CA affirmed the Decision3 dated 23 March 2010 of Branch
Valzado, which was located only a block away from their house, to
85 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City (RTC) in Criminal Case
ask for malunggay leaves.
No. Q-05-136584. The RTC found appellant Gerry Lipata y Ortiza
(appellant) guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Murder
and sentenced him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. The Upon coming home from her aunt’s house, the victim was attacked
RTC also ordered appellant to pay damages to the heirs of Rolando by the Lipatas which prompted the victim to run away. Thinking that
Cueno (Cueno).4 his assailants were no longer around, the victim proceeded to their
[sic] house but then the Lipatas stabbed him to death. She was at a
distance of six (6) to eight (8) meters away from the scene. She
The Facts
further testified that she had no knowledge of any reason why the
Lipatas would kill her father, but her father’s death brought her pain
Appellant was charged with the crime of Murder in an Information and sadness and anger against the perpetrators of her father’s killing.
which reads as follows:

The Defense[’s] Evidence


That on or about the 1st day of September, 2005, in Quezon City,
Philippines, the said accused, conspiring, confederating with two (2)
The defense presented a sole witness in the person of appellant
other persons whose true names, identities and definite whereabouts
himself. According to appellant, he was resting in his house in Sipna
have not as
Compound, Brgy. Bagong Silangan, Quezon City on September 1,
2005 at around 6:00 p.m. when two children, namely John Paul Isip
yet been ascertained and mutually helping one another, with intent and a certain Rommel, called him and told him to help his brother,
to kill and with evident premeditation and treachery, and taking Larry Lipata. He immediately rushed to his brother and upon arrival
advantage of superior strength, did, then and there willfully, he saw Larry being stabbed by the victim. He instantaneously assisted
unlawfully and feloniously his brother but the victim continued stabbing Larry, causing Larry to

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fall to the ground. Thereafter, appellant managed to grab the knife The CA dismissed appellant’s appeal and affirmed the decision of the
from the victim and stab the victim. Then he fled from the scene [of RTC. The CA agreed with the RTC’s ruling that appellant’s claim of
the crime] because he was wounded. Appellant’s sister-in-law, a defense of a relative must fail. There was no actual or imminent
certain Lenlen, brought him to the Amang Medical Center for threat on the life of appellant or of his brother Larry. There was also
treatment of his stab wound where he was apprehended by police no reason for appellant to stab Cueno. Cueno was outnumbered by
officers.6 the Lipata brothers, three to one. The requirement of lack of
provocation on the part of appellant is negated by the multiple stab
The RTC’s Ruling wounds that Cueno sustained.

The RTC noted that since appellant raised the justifying circumstance The CA disagreed with appellant’s contention that the prosecution
of defense of a relative, he hypothetically admitted the commission failed to establish treachery. The CA pointed out that Cueno was not
of the crime. Hence, the burden of proving his innocence shifted to forewarned of any impending threat to his life. Cueno was unarmed,
appellant. The RTC found that the defense failed to adequately and went to his sister-in-law’s house to gather malunggay leaves. The
establish the element of unlawful aggression on the part of Cueno. Lipata brothers, on the other hand, were readily armed with tres
There was no actual or imminent danger to the life of appellant or of cantos, an icepick, and a broken piece of glass from a Red Horse
his brother Larry. On the contrary, the three Lipata brothers bottle. The execution of the Lipata brothers’ attack made it
(appellant, Larry, and Rudy)7 employed treachery and took advantage impossible for Cueno to retaliate.
of their superior strength when they attacked Cueno after Cueno left
the house of his sister-in-law. Cueno suffered 17 stab wounds on his The CA also disagreed with appellant’s contention that there was no
trunk from the Lipata brothers. The existence of multiple stab wounds abuse of superior strength. The three Lipata brothers were all armed
on the trunk of the unarmed Cueno is inconsistent with appellant’s with bladed weapons when they attacked the unarmed Cueno. The
theory of defense of a relative. The RTC, however, ruled that the Lipata brothers refused to stop stabbing Cueno until they saw him
prosecution failed to show conclusive proof of evident premeditation. unconscious.

The dispositive portion of the RTC’s decision reads: The dispositive portion of the CA’s decision reads:

WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing considerations, the Court WHEREFORE, finding the appeal to be bereft of merit, the same is
here[b]y renders judgment finding the accused GERRY LIPATA Y hereby DISMISSED. The appealed decision of the trial court
ORTIZA guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Murder and convicting appellant of the crime of murder is hereby AFFIRMED.
he is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of imprisonment of
reclusion perpetua from twenty (20) years and one (1) day to forty SO ORDERED.11
(40) years.

The PAO filed a notice of appeal12 on behalf of appellant on 10 June


The accused is hereby adjudged to pay the heirs of Rolando Cueno 2011. The CA ordered the immediate elevation of the records to this
the following amounts: Court in its 30 June 2011 Resolution.13

(a) Php 50,000.00 representing civil indemnity ex delicto of Appellant’s Death Prior to Final Judgment
the accused;

This Court, in a Resolution dated 13 June 2012,14 noted the records


(b) Php 120,550.00 representing the actual damages forwarded by the CA and required the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor)
incurred by the heirs of Rolando Cueno, incident to his to confirm the confinement of appellant. The BuCor, in a letter dated
death plus 12% interest per annum computed from 6 26 July 2012, informed this Court that there is no record of
September 2005 until fully paid; confinement of appellant as of date. In a Resolution dated 10
September 2012,15 this Court required the Quezon City Jail Warden
(c) Php 50,000.00 as moral damages for the mental and to transfer appellant to the New Bilibid Prison and to report
emotional anguish suffered by the heirs arising from the compliance within ten days from notice. The Quezon City Jail Warden,
death of Rolando Cueno; and in a letter dated 22 October 2012,16 informed this Court that
appellant passed away on 13 February 2011. The former Quezon City
(d) Php 25,000[.00] as exemplary damages. Jail Warden wrote to the RTC about appellant’s demise in a letter
dated 23 February 2011. Attached to the 22 October 2012 letter were
photocopies of appellant’s death certificate and medical certificate, as
The accused shall be credited with the full period of his preventive well as the former Quezon City Jail Warden’s letter.17 In a Resolution
imprisonment, subject to the conditions imposed under Article 29 of dated 7 January 2013,18 this Court noted the 22 October 2012 letter
the Revised Penal Code, as amended. from the Quezon City Jail Warden, and required the parties to submit
their supplemental briefs on the civil aspect of the case if they so
SO ORDERED.8 desire.

Appellant, through the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), filed a notice The Office of the Solicitor General filed a Manifestation dated 18
of appeal9 on 6 April 2010. The RTC granted appellant’s notice in an March 2013,19 which stated that it had already exhaustively argued
Order10 dated 19 April 2010. the relevant issues in its appellee’s brief. The PAO, on the other hand,
filed a supplemental brief on 26 March 2013.20
The CA’s Ruling
In view of appellant’s death prior to the promulgation of the CA’s
decision, this Court issued a Resolution dated 25 September 2013

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which ordered the PAO "(1) to SUBSTITUTE the legal representatives liability ex delicto is ipso facto extinguished, grounded as it is on the
of the estate of the deceased appellant as party; and (2) to criminal."26
COMMENT on the civil liability of appellant within ten (10) days from
receipt of this Resolution."21 We also ruled that "if the private offended party, upon extinction of
the civil liability ex delicto desires to recover damages from the same
The PAO filed its Manifestation with Comment on the Civil Liability of act or omission complained of, he must subject to Section 1, Rule 111
the Deceased Appellant on 29 November 2013.22 According to the ([of the then applicable] 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure as
Public Attorney’s Office-Special and Appealed Cases Service, the amended) file a separate civil action, this time predicated not on the
relatives of the deceased appellant have not communicated with it felony previously charged but on other sources of obligation. The
since the case was assigned to its office on 29 September 2010. The source of obligation upon which the separate civil action is premised
PAO sent a letter on 4 November 2013 to Lilia Lipata, who was determines against whom the same shall be enforced."27
appellant’s next of kin per official records. Despite receipt of the
letter, the relatives of appellant still failed to communicate with the We proceeded to distinguish the defendants among the different
PAO. causes of action. If the act or omission complained of arises from
quasidelict or, by provision of law, results in an injury to person or
In its Manifestation, the PAO stated that: real or personal property, the separate civil action must be filed
against the executor or administrator of the estate pursuant to
xxxx Section 1, Rule 87 of the Rules of Court.28 On the other hand, if the
act or omission complained of arises from contract, the separate civil
action must be filed against the estate of the accused pursuant to
9. Considering that the civil liability in the instant case arose from and Section 5, Rule 86 of the Rules of Court.29
is based solely on the act complained of, i.e. murder, the same does
not survive the death of the deceased appellant. Thus, in line with the
abovecited ruling [People v. Jaime Ayochok, G.R. No. 175784, 25 We summarized our ruling in Bayotas as follows:
August 2010, 629 SCRA 324, citing People v. Rogelio Bayotas, G.R. No.
102007, 2 September 1994, 236 SCRA 239], the death of the latter 1. Death of the accused pending appeal of his
pending appeal of his conviction extinguished his criminal liability as conviction extinguishes his criminal liability as well as
well as the civil liability based solely thereon. the civil liability based solely thereon. As opined by
Justice Regalado, in this regard, "the death of the accused
10. This being so, it is respectfully submitted that the necessity to prior to final judgment terminates his criminal liability and
substitute the legal representatives of the estate of the deceased as only the civil liability directly arising from and based solely
party does not arise.23 on the offense committed, i.e., civil liability ex delicto in
senso strictiore."

On 9 July 2014, this Court issued a Resolution which declared that


"the [PAO] shall continue as the legal representative of the estate of 2. Corollarily, the claim for civil liability survives
the deceased [appellant] for purposes of representing the estate in notwithstanding the death of accused, if the same may
the civil aspect of this case."24 also be predicated on a source of obligation other than
delict. Article 1157 of the Civil Code enumerates these
other sources of obligation from which the civil liability
The Court’s Ruling may arise as a result of the same act or omission:

At the outset, we declare that because of appellant’s death prior to a) Law


the promulgation of the CA’s decision, there is no further need to
determine appellant’s criminal liability. Appellant’s death has the
effect of extinguishing his criminal liability. Article 89(1) of the b) Contracts
Revised Penal Code provides:
c) Quasi-contracts
Article 89. How criminal liability is totally extinguished. – Criminal
liability is totally extinguished: d) x x x

1. By the death of the convict, as to the personal penalties; and as to e) Quasi-delicts


pecuniary penalties, liability therefor is extinguished only when the
death of the offender occurs before final judgment; 3. Where the civil liability survives, as explained in
Number 2 above, an action for recovery therefor may
xxxx be pursued but only by way of filing a separate civil
action and subject to Section 1, Rule 111 of the 1985
What this Court will discuss further is the effect of appellant’s death Rules on Criminal Procedure as amended. This separate
with regard to his civil liability. In 1994, this Court, in People v. civil action may be enforced either against the
Bayotas,25 reconciled the differing doctrines on the issue of whether executor/administrator or the estate of the accused,
the death of the accused pending appeal of his conviction depending on the source of obligation upon which the
extinguishes his civil liability. We concluded that "[u]pon death of the same is based as explained above.
accused pending appeal of his conviction, the criminal action is
extinguished inasmuch as there is no longer a defendant to stand as 4. Finally, the private offended party need not fear a
the accused; the civil action instituted therein for recovery of civil forfeiture of his right to file this separate civil action by
prescription, in cases where during the prosecution of the

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criminal action and prior to its extinction, the private- in relation to the rules for prosecuting claims against his estate in
offended party instituted together therewith the civil Rules 86 and 87.38
action. In such case, the statute of limitations on the civil
liability is deemed interrupted during the pendency of the Upon examination of the submitted pleadings, we found that there
criminal case, conformably with provisions of Article 1155 was no separate civil case instituted prior to the criminal case. Neither
of the Civil Code, that should thereby avoid any was there any reservation for filing a separate civil case for the cause
apprehension on a possible deprivation of right by of action arising from quasi-delict. Under the present Rules, the heirs
prescription.30 (Emphases supplied) of Cueno should file a separate civil case in order to obtain financial
retribution for their loss. The lack of a separate civil case for the cause
The promulgation of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure in 2000 of action arising from quasidelict leads us to the conclusion that, a
provided for the effect of the death of the accused after arraignment decade after Cueno’s death, his heirs cannot recover even a centavo
and during the pendency of the criminal action to reflect our ruling in from the amounts awarded by the CA.
Bayotas:
However, for similar cases in the future, we refer to the Committee
Sec. 4. Effect of death on civil actions. — The death of the accused on the Revision of the Rules of Court for study and recommendation
after arraignment and during the pendency of the criminal action to the Court En Banc appropriate amendments to the Rules for a
shall extinguish the civil liability arising from the delict. However, the speedy and inexpensive resolution of such similar cases with the
independent civil action instituted under Section 3 of this Rule or objective of indemnifying the private offended party or his heirs in
which thereafter is instituted to enforce liability arising from other cases where an accused dies after conviction by the trial court but
sources of obligation may be continued against the estate or legal pending appeal.
representative of the accused after proper substitution or against said
estate, as the case may be. The heirs of the accused may be In Lumantas v. Calapiz,39 this Court declared that our law recognizes
substituted for the deceased without requiring the appointment of an that an acquittal based on reasonable doubt of the guilt of the
executor or administrator and the court may appoint a guardian ad accused does not exempt the accused from civil liability ex delicto
litem for the minor heirs. which may be proved by preponderance of evidence. This Court’s
pronouncement in Lumantas is based on Article 29 of the Civil Code:
The court shall forthwith order said legal representative or
representatives to appear and be substituted within a period of thirty Art. 29. When the accused in a criminal prosecution is acquitted on
(30) days from notice.1âwphi1 the ground that his guilt has not been proved beyond reasonable
doubt, a civil action for damages for the same act or omission may be
A final judgment entered in favor of the offended party shall be instituted. Such action requires only a preponderance of evidence.
enforced in the manner especially provided in these rules for Upon motion of the defendant, the court may require the plaintiff to
prosecuting claims against the estate of the deceased. file a bond to answer for damages in case the complaint should be
found to be malicious.
If the accused dies before arraignment, the case shall be dismissed
without prejudice to any civil action the offended party may file If in a criminal case the judgment of acquittal is based upon
against the estate of the deceased. reasonable doubt, the court shall so declare. In the absence of any
declaration to that effect, it may be inferred from the text of the
Contrary to the PAO’s Manifestation with Comment on the Civil decision whether or not the acquittal is due to that ground.
Liability of the Deceased Appellant,31 Cueno died because of
appellant’s fault. Appellant caused damage to Cueno through We also turn to the Code Commission’s justification of its recognition
deliberate acts.32 Appellant’s civil liability ex quasi delicto may now of the possibility of miscarriage of justice in these cases:
be pursued because appellant’s death on 13 February 2011, before
the promulgation of final judgment, extinguished both his criminal The old rule that the acquittal of the accused in a criminal case also
liability and civil liability ex delicto. releases him from civil liability is one of the most serious flaws in the
Philippine legal system. It has given rise to numberless instances of
Despite the recognition of the survival of the civil liability for claims miscarriage of justice, where the acquittal was due to a reasonable
under Articles 32, 33, 34 and 2176 of the Civil Code, as well as from doubt in the mind of the court as to the guilt of the accused. The
sources of obligation other than delict in both jurisprudence and the reasoning followed is that inasmuch as the civil responsibility is
Rules, and our subsequent designation of the PAO as the "legal derived from the criminal offense, when the latter is not proved, civil
representative of the estate of the deceased [appellant] for purposes liability cannot be demanded.
of representing the estate in the civil aspect of this case,"33 the
current Rules, pursuant to our pronouncement in This is one of those cases where confused thinking leads to
unfortunate and deplorable consequences. Such reasoning fails to
Bayotas,34 require the private offended party, or his heirs, in this draw a clear line of demarcation between criminal liability and civil
case, to institute a separate civil action to pursue their claims against responsibility, and to determine the logical result of the distinction.
the estate of the deceased appellant. The independent civil actions in The two liabilities are separate and distinct from each other. One
Articles 32, 33, 34 and 2176, as well as claims from sources of affects the social order and the other, private rights. One is for the
obligation other than delict, are not deemed instituted with the punishment or correction of the offender while the other is for
criminal action but may be filed separately by the offended party reparation of damages suffered by the aggrieved party. The two
even without reservation.35 The separate civil action proceeds responsibilities are so different from each other that article 1813 of
independently of the criminal proceedings and requires only a the present (Spanish) Civil Code reads thus: "There may be a
preponderance of evidence.36 The civil action which may thereafter compromise upon the civil action arising from a crime; but the public
be instituted against the estate or legal representatives of the action for the imposition of the legal penalty shall not thereby be
decedent is taken from the new provisions of Section 16 of Rule 337 extinguished." It is just and proper that, for the purpose of the

TrinaFaye SPECPRO Review Page 16


imprisonment of or fine upon the accused, the offense should be a certain Edgardo Militar (Edgardo) on 3 September 1968. Parental
proved beyond reasonable doubt. But for the purpose of care and custody over petitioner was passed on by Edgardo to his
indemnifying the complaining party, why should the offense also be relatives, Emiliano Militar (Emiliano) and his wife. Three days after, 6
proved beyond reasonable doubt? Is not the invasion or violation of September 1968, Emiliano reported and registered petitioner as a
every private right to be proved only by a preponderance of foundling with the Office of the Civil Registrar of Iloilo City (OCR-
evidence? Is the right of the aggrieved person any less private Iloilo). In her Foundling Certificate and Certificate of Live Birth, the
because the wrongful act is also punishable by the criminal law? petitioner was given the name "Mary Grace Natividad Contreras
Militar." 1
For these reasons, the Commission recommends the adoption of the
reform under discussion. It will correct a serious defect in our law. It When petitioner was five (5) years old, celebrity spouses Ronald Allan
will close up an inexhaustible source of injustice – a cause for Kelley Poe (a.k.a. Fenando Poe, Jr.) and Jesusa Sonora Poe (a.k.a.
disillusionment on the part of innumerable persons injured or Susan Roces) filed a petition for her adoption with the Municipal Trial
wronged.40 Court (MTC) of San Juan City. On 13 May 1974, the trial court granted
their petition and ordered that petitioner's name be changed from
In similar manner, the reform in procedure in these cases to be "Mary Grace Natividad Contreras Militar" to "Mary Grace Natividad
recommended by the Committee on the Revision of the Rules of Sonora Poe." Although necessary notations were made by OCR-Iloilo
Court shall aim to provide the aggrieved parties relief, as well as on petitioner's foundling certificate reflecting the court decreed
recognition of their right to indemnity. This reform is of course adoption,2 the petitioner's adoptive mother discovered only
subject to the policy against double recovery. sometime in the second half of 2005 that the lawyer who handled
petitioner's adoption failed to secure from the OCR-Iloilo a new
Certificate of Live Birth indicating petitioner's new name and the
WHEREFORE, we SET ASIDE the Decision promulgated on 31 May name of her adoptive parents. 3 Without delay, petitioner's mother
2011 by the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 04461. The executed an affidavit attesting to the lawyer's omission which she
criminal and civil liabilities ex delicto of appellant Gerry Lipata y Ortiza submitted to the OCR-Iloilo. On 4 May 2006, OCR-Iloilo issued a new
are declared EXTINGUISHED by his death prior to final judgment. Certificate of Live Birth in the name of Mary Grace Natividad Sonora
Poe.4
Let a copy, of this Decision be forwarded to the Committee on the
Revision of the Rules of Court. SO ORDERED. Having reached the age of eighteen (18) years in 1986, petitioner
registered as a voter with the local COMELEC Office in San Juan City.
On 13 December 1986, she received her COMELEC Voter's
Identification Card for Precinct No. 196 in Greenhills, San Juan, Metro
Manila.5
EN BANC March 8, 2016 G.R. No. 221697

On 4 April 1988, petitioner applied for and was issued Philippine


MARY GRACE NATIVIDAD S. POE-LLAMANZARES, Petitioners,
Passport No. F9272876 by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
vs.
Subsequently, on 5 April 1993 and 19 May 1998, she renewed her
COMELEC AND ESTRELLA C. ELAMPARO Respondents.
Philippine passport and respectively secured Philippine Passport Nos.
x-----------------------x
L881511 and DD156616.7
G.R. No. 221698-700
MARY GRACE NATIVIDAD S. POE-LLAMANZARES, Petitioners,
vs. Initially, the petitioner enrolled and pursued a degree in
COMELEC, FRANCISCO S. TATAD, ANTONIO P. CONTRERAS AND Development Studies at the University of the Philippines8 but she
AMADO D. VALDEZ Respondents. opted to continue her studies abroad and left for the United States of
America (U.S.) in 1988. Petitioner graduated in 1991 from Boston
College in Chestnuts Hill, Massachusetts where she earned her
DECISION
Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Studies.9

PEREZ, J.:
On 27 July 1991, petitioner married Teodoro Misael Daniel V.
Llamanzares (Llamanzares), a citizen of both the Philippines and the
Before the Court are two consolidated petitions under Rule 64 in U.S., at Sanctuario de San Jose Parish in San Juan City. 10 Desirous of
relation to Rule 65 of the Rules of Court with extremely urgent being with her husband who was then based in the U.S., the couple
application for an ex parte issuance of temporary restraining flew back to the U.S. two days after the wedding ceremony or on 29
order/status quo ante order and/or writ of preliminary injunction July 1991. 11
assailing the following: (1) 1 December 2015 Resolution of the
Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Second Division; (2) 23
While in the U.S., the petitioner gave birth to her eldest child Brian
December 2015 Resolution of the COMELEC En Banc, in SPA No. 15-
Daniel (Brian) on 16 April 1992.12 Her two daughters Hanna
001 (DC); (3) 11 December 2015 Resolution of the COMELEC First
MacKenzie (Hanna) and Jesusa Anika (Anika) were both born in the
Division; and ( 4) 23 December 2015 Resolution of the COMELEC En
Philippines on 10 July 1998 and 5 June 2004, respectively. 13
Banc, in SPA No. 15-002 (DC), SPA No. 15-007 (DC) and SPA No. 15-
139 (DC) for having been issued without jurisdiction or with grave
abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. On 18 October 2001, petitioner became a naturalized American
citizen. 14 She obtained U.S. Passport No. 017037793 on 19
December 2001. 15
The Facts

On 8 April 2004, the petitioner came back to the Philippines together


Mary Grace Natividad S. Poe-Llamanzares (petitioner) was found
with Hanna to support her father's candidacy for President in the May
abandoned as a newborn infant in the Parish Church of Jaro, Iloilo by
2004 elections. It was during this time that she gave birth to her

TrinaFaye SPECPRO Review Page 17


youngest daughter Anika. She returned to the U.S. with her two 2006.37 As can be gathered from its 18 July 2006 Order, the BI acted
daughters on 8 July 2004. 16 favorably on petitioner's petitions and declared that she is deemed to
have reacquired her Philippine citizenship while her children are
After a few months, specifically on 13 December 2004, petitioner considered as citizens of the Philippines.38 Consequently, the BI
rushed back to the Philippines upon learning of her father's issued Identification Certificates (ICs) in petitioner's name and in the
deteriorating medical condition. 17 Her father slipped into a coma names of her three (3) children. 39
and eventually expired. The petitioner stayed in the country until 3
February 2005 to take care of her father's funeral arrangements as Again, petitioner registered as a voter of Barangay Santa Lucia, San
well as to assist in the settlement of his estate.18 Juan City on 31 August 2006.40 She also secured from the DFA a new
Philippine Passport bearing the No. XX4731999.41 This passport was
According to the petitioner, the untimely demise of her father was a renewed on 18 March 2014 and she was issued Philippine Passport
severe blow to her entire family. In her earnest desire to be with her No. EC0588861 by the DFA.42
grieving mother, the petitioner and her husband decided to move
and reside permanently in the Philippines sometime in the first On 6 October 2010, President Benigno S. Aquino III appointed
quarter of 2005.19 The couple began preparing for their resettlement petitioner as Chairperson of the Movie and Television Review and
including notification of their children's schools that they will be Classification Board (MTRCB).43 Before assuming her post, petitioner
transferring to Philippine schools for the next semester;20 executed an "Affidavit of Renunciation of Allegiance to the United
coordination with property movers for the relocation of their States of America and Renunciation of American Citizenship" before a
household goods, furniture and cars from the U.S. to the notary public in Pasig City on 20 October 2010,44 in satisfaction of
Philippines;21 and inquiry with Philippine authorities as to the proper the legal requisites stated in Section 5 of R.A. No. 9225.45 The
procedure to be followed in bringing their pet dog into the following day, 21 October 2010 petitioner submitted the said affidavit
country.22 As early as 2004, the petitioner already quit her job in the to the BI46 and took her oath of office as Chairperson of the
U.S.23 MTRCB.47 From then on, petitioner stopped using her American
passport.48
Finally, petitioner came home to the Philippines on 24 May 200524
and without delay, secured a Tax Identification Number from the On 12 July 2011, the petitioner executed before the Vice Consul of
Bureau of Internal Revenue. Her three (3) children immediately the U.S. Embassy in Manila an "Oath/Affirmation of Renunciation of
followed25 while her husband was forced to stay in the U.S. to Nationality of the United States."49 On that day, she accomplished a
complete pending projects as well as to arrange the sale of their sworn questionnaire before the U.S. Vice Consul wherein she stated
family home there.26 that she had taken her oath as MTRCB Chairperson on 21 October
2010 with the intent, among others, of relinquishing her American
The petitioner and her children briefly stayed at her mother's place citizenship.50 In the same questionnaire, the petitioner stated that
until she and her husband purchased a condominium unit with a she had resided outside of the U.S., specifically in the Philippines,
parking slot at One Wilson Place Condominium in San Juan City in from 3 September 1968 to 29 July 1991 and from May 2005 to
the second half of 2005.27 The corresponding Condominium present.51
Certificates of Title covering the unit and parking slot were issued by
the Register of Deeds of San Juan City to petitioner and her husband On 9 December 2011, the U.S. Vice Consul issued to petitioner a
on 20 February 2006.28 Meanwhile, her children of school age began "Certificate of Loss of Nationality of the United States" effective 21
attending Philippine private schools. October 2010.52

On 14 February 2006, the petitioner made a quick trip to the U.S. to On 2 October 2012, the petitioner filed with the COMELEC her
supervise the disposal of some of the family's remaining household Certificate of Candidacy (COC) for Senator for the 2013 Elections
belongings.29 She travelled back to the Philippines on 11 March wherein she answered "6 years and 6 months" to the question
2006.30 "Period of residence in the Philippines before May 13, 2013."53
Petitioner obtained the highest number of votes and was proclaimed
In late March 2006, petitioner's husband officially informed the U.S. Senator on 16 May 2013. 54
Postal Service of the family's change and abandonment of their
address in the U.S.31 The family home was eventually sold on 27 On 19 December 2013, petitioner obtained Philippine Diplomatic
April 2006.32 Petitioner's husband resigned from his job in the U.S. in Passport No. DE0004530. 55
April 2006, arrived in the country on 4 May 2006 and started working
for a major Philippine company in July 2006.33 On 15 October 2015, petitioner filed her COC for the Presidency for
the May 2016 Elections. 56 In her COC, the petitioner declared that
In early 2006, petitioner and her husband acquired a 509-square she is a natural-born citizen and that her residence in the Philippines
meter lot in Corinthian Hills, Quezon City where they built their family up to the day before 9 May 2016 would be ten (10) years and eleven
home34 and to this day, is where the couple and their children have (11) months counted from 24 May 2005.57 The petitioner attached to
been residing.35 A Transfer Certificate of Title covering said property her COC an "Affidavit Affirming Renunciation of U.S.A. Citizenship"
was issued in the couple's name by the Register of Deeds of Quezon subscribed and sworn to before a notary public in Quezon City on 14
City on 1June 2006. October 2015. 58

On 7 July 2006, petitioner took her Oath of Allegiance to the Republic Petitioner's filing of her COC for President in the upcoming elections
of the Philippines pursuant to Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9225 or the triggered the filing of several COMELEC cases against her which were
Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003.36 Under the the subject of these consolidated cases.
same Act, she filed with the Bureau of Immigration (BI) a sworn
petition to reacquire Philippine citizenship together with petitions for Origin of Petition for Certiorari in G.R. No. 221697
derivative citizenship on behalf of her three minor children on 10 July

TrinaFaye SPECPRO Review Page 18


A day after petitioner filed her COC for President, Estrella Elamparo d. she executed a sworn renunciation of her
(Elamparo) filed a petition to deny due course or cancel said COC American citizenship prior to the filing of her
which was docketed as SPA No. 15-001 (DC) and raffled to the COC for President in the May 9, 2016 Elections
COMELEC Second Division.59 She is convinced that the COMELEC has and that the same is in full force and effect and
jurisdiction over her petition.60 Essentially, Elamparo's contention is has not been withdrawn or recanted;
that petitioner committed material misrepresentation when she
stated in her COC that she is a natural-born Filipino citizen and that e. the burden was on Elamparo in proving that
she is a resident of the Philippines for at least ten (10) years and she did not possess natural-born status;
eleven (11) months up to the day before the 9 May 2016 Elections.61

f. residence is a matter of evidence and that she


On the issue of citizenship, Elamparo argued that petitioner cannot reestablished her domicile in the Philippines as
be considered as a natural-born Filipino on account of the fact that early as May 24, 2005;
she was a foundling.62 Elamparo claimed that international law does
not confer natural-born status and Filipino citizenship on
foundlings.63 Following this line of reasoning, petitioner is not g. she could reestablish residence even before
qualified to apply for reacquisition of Filipino citizenship under R.A. she reacquired natural-born citizenship under
No. 9225 for she is not a natural-born Filipino citizen to begin with.64 R.A. No. 9225;
Even assuming arguendo that petitioner was a natural-born Filipino,
she is deemed to have lost that status when she became a h. statement regarding the period of residence in
naturalized American citizen.65 According to Elamparo, natural-born her 2012 COC for Senator was an honest
citizenship must be continuous from birth.66 mistake, not binding and should give way to
evidence on her true date of reacquisition of
On the matter of petitioner's residency, Elamparo pointed out that domicile;
petitioner was bound by the sworn declaration she made in her 2012
COC for Senator wherein she indicated that she had resided in the i. Elamparo's petition is merely an action to
country for only six ( 6) years and six ( 6) months as of May 2013 usurp the sovereign right of the Filipino people
Elections. Elamparo likewise insisted that assuming arguendo that to decide a purely political question, that is,
petitioner is qualified to regain her natural-born status under R.A. No. should she serve as the country's next leader.68
9225, she still fell short of the ten-year residency requirement of the
Constitution as her residence could only be counted at the earliest After the parties submitted their respective Memoranda, the petition
from July 2006, when she reacquired Philippine citizenship under the was deemed submitted for resolution.
said Act. Also on the assumption that petitioner is qualified to
reacquire lost Philippine Citizenship, Elamparo is of the belief that she
On 1 December 2015, the COMELEC Second Division promulgated a
failed to reestablish her domicile in the Philippines.67
Resolution finding that petitioner's COC, filed for the purpose of
running for the President of the Republic of the Philippines in the 9
Petitioner seasonably filed her Answer wherein she countered that: May 2016 National and Local Elections, contained material
representations which are false. The fallo of the aforesaid Resolution
(1) the COMELEC did not have jurisdiction over Elamparo's reads:
petition as it was actually a petition for quo warranto which
could only be filed if Grace Poe wins in the Presidential WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing considerations, the instant
elections, and that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has Petition to Deny Due Course to or Cancel Certificate of Candidacy is
primary jurisdiction to revoke the BI's July 18, 2006 Order; hereby GRANTED. Accordingly, the Certificate of Candidacy for
President of the Republic of the Philippines in the May 9, 2016
(2) the petition failed to state a cause of action because it National and Local Elections filed by respondent Mary Grace
did not contain allegations which, if hypothetically Natividad Sonora Poe Llamanzares is hereby CANCELLED.69
admitted, would make false the statement in her COC that
she is a natural-born Filipino citizen nor was there any Motion for Reconsideration of the 1 December 2015 Resolution was
allegation that there was a willful or deliberate intent to filed by petitioner which the COMELEC En Banc resolved in its 23
misrepresent on her part; December 2015 Resolution by denying the same.70

(3) she did not make any material misrepresentation in the Origin of Petition for Certiorari in G.R. Nos. 221698-700
COC regarding her citizenship and residency qualifications
for:
This case stemmed from three (3) separate petitions filed by
Francisco S. Tatad (Tatad), Antonio P. Contreras (Contreras) and
a. the 1934 Constitutional Convention Amado D. Valdez (Valdez) against petitioner before the COMELEC
deliberations show that foundlings were which were consolidated and raffled to its First Division.
considered citizens;

In his petition to disqualify petitioner under Rule 25 of the COMELEC


b. foundlings are presumed under international Rules of Procedure,71 docketed as SPA No. 15-002 (DC), Tatad
law to have been born of citizens of the place alleged that petitioner lacks the requisite residency and citizenship to
where they are found; qualify her for the Presidency.72

c. she reacquired her natural-born Philippine Tatad theorized that since the Philippines adheres to the principle of
citizenship under the provisions of R.A. No. 9225; jus sanguinis, persons of unknown parentage, particularly foundlings,

TrinaFaye SPECPRO Review Page 19


cannot be considered natural-born Filipino citizens since blood First, Tatad's petition should be dismissed outright for failure to state
relationship is determinative of natural-born status.73 Tatad invoked a cause of action. His petition did not invoke grounds proper for a
the rule of statutory construction that what is not included is disqualification case as enumerated under Sections 12 and 68 of the
excluded. He averred that the fact that foundlings were not expressly Omnibus Election Code.89 Instead, Tatad completely relied on the
included in the categories of citizens in the 193 5 Constitution is alleged lack of residency and natural-born status of petitioner which
indicative of the framers' intent to exclude them.74 Therefore, the are not among the recognized grounds for the disqualification of a
burden lies on petitioner to prove that she is a natural-born citizen.75 candidate to an elective office.90

Neither can petitioner seek refuge under international conventions or Second, the petitions filed against her are basically petitions for quo
treaties to support her claim that foundlings have a nationality.76 warranto as they focus on establishing her ineligibility for the
According to Tatad, international conventions and treaties are not Presidency.91 A petition for quo warranto falls within the exclusive
self-executory and that local legislations are necessary in order to jurisdiction of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) and not the
give effect to treaty obligations assumed by the Philippines.77 He COMELEC.92
also stressed that there is no standard state practice that
automatically confers natural-born status to foundlings.78 Third, the burden to prove that she is not a natural-born Filipino
citizen is on the respondents.93 Otherwise stated, she has a
Similar to Elamparo's argument, Tatad claimed that petitioner cannot presumption in her favor that she is a natural-born citizen of this
avail of the option to reacquire Philippine citizenship under R.A. No. country.
9225 because it only applies to former natural-born citizens and
petitioner was not as she was a foundling.79 Fourth, customary international law dictates that foundlings are
entitled to a nationality and are presumed to be citizens of the
Referring to petitioner's COC for Senator, Tatad concluded that she country where they are found.94 Consequently, the petitioner is
did not comply with the ten (10) year residency requirement.80 Tatad considered as a natural-born citizen of the Philippines.95
opined that petitioner acquired her domicile in Quezon City only
from the time she renounced her American citizenship which was Fifth, she claimed that as a natural-born citizen, she has every right to
sometime in 2010 or 2011.81 Additionally, Tatad questioned be repatriated under R.A. No. 9225 or the right to reacquire her
petitioner's lack of intention to abandon her U.S. domicile as evinced natural-born status.96 Moreover, the official acts of the Philippine
by the fact that her husband stayed thereat and her frequent trips to Government enjoy the presumption of regularity, to wit: the issuance
the U.S.82 of the 18 July 2006 Order of the BI declaring her as natural-born
citizen, her appointment as MTRCB Chair and the issuance of the
In support of his petition to deny due course or cancel the COC of decree of adoption of San Juan RTC.97 She believed that all these
petitioner, docketed as SPA No. 15-139 (DC), Valdez alleged that her acts reinforced her position that she is a natural-born citizen of the
repatriation under R.A. No. 9225 did not bestow upon her the status Philippines.98
of a natural-born citizen.83 He advanced the view that former
natural-born citizens who are repatriated under the said Act Sixth, she maintained that as early as the first quarter of 2005, she
reacquires only their Philippine citizenship and will not revert to their started reestablishing her domicile of choice in the Philippines as
original status as natural-born citizens.84 demonstrated by her children's resettlement and schooling in the
country, purchase of a condominium unit in San Juan City and the
He further argued that petitioner's own admission in her COC for construction of their family home in Corinthian Hills.99
Senator that she had only been a resident of the Philippines for at
least six (6) years and six (6) months prior to the 13 May 2013 Seventh, she insisted that she could legally reestablish her domicile of
Elections operates against her. Valdez rejected petitioner's claim that choice in the Philippines even before she renounced her American
she could have validly reestablished her domicile in the Philippines citizenship as long as the three determinants for a change of domicile
prior to her reacquisition of Philippine citizenship. In effect, his are complied with.100 She reasoned out that there was no
position was that petitioner did not meet the ten (10) year residency requirement that renunciation of foreign citizenship is a prerequisite
requirement for President. for the acquisition of a new domicile of choice.101

Unlike the previous COMELEC cases filed against petitioner, Eighth, she reiterated that the period appearing in the residency
Contreras' petition,85 docketed as SPA No. 15-007 (DC), limited the portion of her COC for Senator was a mistake made in good faith.102
attack to the residency issue. He claimed that petitioner's 2015 COC
for President should be cancelled on the ground that she did not
possess the ten-year period of residency required for said candidacy In a Resolution103 promulgated on 11 December 2015, the
and that she made false entry in her COC when she stated that she is COMELEC First Division ruled that petitioner is not a natural-born
a legal resident of the Philippines for ten (10) years and eleven (11) citizen, that she failed to complete the ten (10) year residency
months by 9 May 2016.86 Contreras contended that the reckoning requirement, and that she committed material misrepresentation in
period for computing petitioner's residency in the Philippines should her COC when she declared therein that she has been a resident of
be from 18 July 2006, the date when her petition to reacquire the Philippines for a period of ten (10) years and eleven (11) months
Philippine citizenship was approved by the BI.87 He asserted that as of the day of the elections on 9 May 2016. The COMELEC First
petitioner's physical presence in the country before 18 July 2006 Division concluded that she is not qualified for the elective position
could not be valid evidence of reacquisition of her Philippine of President of the Republic of the Philippines. The dispositive
domicile since she was then living here as an American citizen and as portion of said Resolution reads:
such, she was governed by the Philippine immigration laws.88
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Commission RESOLVED, as it
In her defense, petitioner raised the following arguments: hereby RESOLVES, to GRANT the Petitions and cancel the Certificate
of Candidacy of MARY GRACE NATIVIDAD SONORA POE-

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LLAMANZARES for the elective position of President of the Republic Section 2. The Commission on Elections shall exercise the following
of the Philippines in connection with the 9 May 2016 Synchronized powers and functions:
Local and National Elections.
(1) Enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration seeking a reversal of the conduct of an election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum, and
COMELEC First Division's Resolution. On 23 December 2015, the recall.
COMELEC En Banc issued a Resolution denying petitioner's motion
for reconsideration. (2) Exercise exclusive original jurisdiction over all contests relating
to the elections, returns, and qualifications of all elective regional,
Alarmed by the adverse rulings of the COMELEC, petitioner instituted provincial, and city officials, and appellate jurisdiction over all
the present petitions for certiorari with urgent prayer for the issuance contests involving elective municipal officials decided by trial
of an ex parte temporary restraining order/status quo ante order courts of general jurisdiction, or involving elective barangay
and/or writ of preliminary injunction. On 28 December 2015, officials decided by trial courts of limited jurisdiction.
temporary restraining orders were issued by the Court enjoining the
COMELEC and its representatives from implementing the assailed Decisions, final orders, or rulings of the Commission on election
COMELEC Resolutions until further orders from the Court. The Court contests involving elective municipal and barangay offices shall
also ordered the consolidation of the two petitions filed by petitioner be final, executory, and not appealable.
in its Resolution of 12 January 2016. Thereafter, oral arguments were
held in these cases.
(3) Decide, except those involving the right to vote, all questions
affecting elections, including determination of the number and
The Court GRANTS the petition of Mary Grace Natividad S. Poe- location of polling places, appointment of election officials and
Llamanzares and to ANNUL and SET ASIDE the: inspectors, and registration of voters.

1. Resolution dated 1 December 2015 rendered through its (4) Deputize, with the concurrence of the President, law
Second Division, in SPA No. 15-001 (DC), entitled Estrella C. enforcement agencies and instrumentalities of the Government,
Elamparo, petitioner, vs. Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe- including the Armed Forces of the Philippines, for the exclusive
Llamanzares. purpose of ensuring free, orderly, honest, peaceful, and credible
elections.
2. Resolution dated 11 December 2015, rendered through its First
Division, in the consolidated cases SPA No. 15-002 (DC) entitled (5) Register, after sufficient publication, political parties,
Francisco S. Tatad, petitioner, vs. Mary Grace Natividad Sonora organizations, or coalitions which, in addition to other
Poe-Llamanzares, respondent; SPA No. 15-007 (DC) entitled requirements, must present their platform or program of
Antonio P. Contreras, petitioner, vs. Mary Grace Natividad Sonora government; and accredit citizens' arms of the Commission on
Poe-Llamanzares, respondent; and SPA No. 15-139 (DC) entitled Elections. Religious denominations and sects shall not be
Amado D. Valdez, petitioner, v. Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe- registered. Those which seek to achieve their goals through
Llamanzares, respondent. violence or unlawful means, or refuse to uphold and adhere to
this Constitution, or which are supported by any foreign
3. Resolution dated 23 December 2015 of the Commission En government shall likewise be refused registration.
Banc, upholding the 1 December 2015 Resolution of the Second
Division. Financial contributions from foreign governments and their
agencies to political parties, organizations, coalitions, or
4. Resolution dated 23 December 2015 of the Commission En candidates related to elections constitute interference in national
Banc, upholding the 11 December 2015 Resolution of the First affairs, and, when accepted, shall be an additional ground for the
Division. cancellation of their registration with the Commission, in addition
to other penalties that may be prescribed by law.
The procedure and the conclusions from which the questioned
Resolutions emanated are tainted with grave abuse of discretion (6) File, upon a verified complaint, or on its own initiative,
amounting to lack of jurisdiction. The petitioner is a QUALIFIED petitions in court for inclusion or exclusion of voters; investigate
CANDIDATE for President in the 9 May 2016 National Elections. and, where appropriate, prosecute cases of violations of election
laws, including acts or omissions constituting election frauds,
The issue before the COMELEC is whether or not the COC of offenses, and malpractices.
petitioner should be denied due course or cancelled "on the exclusive
ground" that she made in the certificate a false material (7) Recommend to the Congress effective measures to minimize
representation. The exclusivity of the ground should hedge in the election spending, including limitation of places where
discretion of the COMELEC and restrain it from going into the issue propaganda materials shall be posted, and to prevent and
of the qualifications of the candidate for the position, if, as in this penalize all forms of election frauds, offenses, malpractices, and
case, such issue is yet undecided or undetermined by the proper nuisance candidacies.
authority. The COMELEC cannot itself, in the same cancellation case,
decide the qualification or lack thereof of the candidate. (8) Recommend to the President the removal of any officer or
employee it has deputized, or the imposition of any other
We rely, first of all, on the Constitution of our Republic, particularly its disciplinary action, for violation or disregard of, or disobedience
provisions in Article IX, C, Section 2: to its directive, order, or decision.

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(9) Submit to the President and the Congress a comprehensive The assimilation in Rule 25 of the COMELEC rules of grounds for
report on the conduct of each election, plebiscite, initiative, ineligibility into grounds for disqualification is contrary to the evident
referendum, or recall. intention of the law. For not only in their grounds but also in their
consequences are proceedings for "disqualification" different from
Not any one of the enumerated powers approximate the exactitude those for a declaration of "ineligibility." "Disqualification"
of the provisions of Article VI, Section 17 of the same basic law proceedings, as already stated, are based on grounds specified in §
stating that: 12 and §68 of the Omnibus Election Code and in §40 of the Local
Government Code and are for the purpose of barring an individual
from becoming a candidate or from continuing as a candidate for
The Senate and the House of Representatives shall each public office. In a word, their purpose is to eliminate a candidate from
have an Electoral Tribunal which shall be the sole judge of the race either from the start or during its progress. "Ineligibility," on
all contests relating to the election, returns, and the other hand, refers to the lack of the qualifications prescribed in
qualifications of their respective Members. Each Electoral the Constitution or the statutes for holding public office and the
Tribunal shall be composed of nine Members, three of purpose of the proceedings for declaration of ineligibility is to
whom shall be Justices of the Supreme Court to be remove the incumbent from office.
designated by the Chief Justice, and the remaining six shall
be Members of the Senate or the House of
Representatives, as the case may be, who shall be chosen Consequently, that an individual possesses the qualifications for a
on the basis of proportional representation from the public office does not imply that he is not disqualified from
political parties and the parties or organizations registered becoming a candidate or continuing as a candidate for a public office
under the party-list system represented therein. The senior and vice versa. We have this sort of dichotomy in our Naturalization
Justice in the Electoral Tribunal shall be its Chairman. Law. (C.A. No. 473) That an alien has the qualifications prescribed in
§2 of the Law does not imply that he does not suffer from any of [the]
disqualifications provided in §4.
or of the last paragraph of Article VII, Section 4 which provides that:

Before we get derailed by the distinction as to grounds and the


The Supreme Court, sitting en banc, shall be the sole judge consequences of the respective proceedings, the importance of the
of all contests relating to the election, returns, and opinion is in its statement that "the lack of provision for declaring the
qualifications of the President or Vice-President, and may ineligibility of candidates, however, cannot be supplied by a mere
promulgate its rules for the purpose. rule". Justice Mendoza lectured in Romualdez-Marcos that:

The tribunals which have jurisdiction over the question of the Three reasons may be cited to explain the absence of an authorized
qualifications of the President, the Vice-President, Senators and the proceeding for determining before election the qualifications of a
Members of the House of Representatives was made clear by the candidate.
Constitution. There is no such provision for candidates for these
positions.
First is the fact that unless a candidate wins and is proclaimed
elected, there is no necessity for determining his eligibility for the
Can the COMELEC be such judge? office. In contrast, whether an individual should be disqualified as a
candidate for acts constituting election offenses (e.g., vote buying,
The opinion of Justice Vicente V. Mendoza in Romualdez-Marcos v. over spending, commission of prohibited acts) is a prejudicial
Commission on Elections,104 which was affirmatively cited in the En question which should be determined lest he wins because of the
Banc decision in Fermin v. COMELEC105 is our guide. The citation in very acts for which his disqualification is being sought. That is why it
Fermin reads: is provided that if the grounds for disqualification are established, a
candidate will not be voted for; if he has been voted for, the votes in
Apparently realizing the lack of an authorized proceeding for his favor will not be counted; and if for some reason he has been
declaring the ineligibility of candidates, the COMELEC amended its voted for and he has won, either he will not be proclaimed or his
rules on February 15, 1993 so as to provide in Rule 25 § 1, the proclamation will be set aside.
following:
Second is the fact that the determination of a candidates' eligibility,
Grounds for disqualification. - Any candidate who e.g., his citizenship or, as in this case, his domicile, may take a long
does not possess all the qualifications of a time to make, extending beyond the beginning of the term of the
candidate as provided for by the Constitution or office. This is amply demonstrated in the companion case (G.R. No.
by existing law or who commits any act declared 120265, Agapito A. Aquino v. COMELEC) where the determination of
by law to be grounds for disqualification may be Aquino's residence was still pending in the COMELEC even after the
disqualified from continuing as a candidate. elections of May 8, 1995. This is contrary to the summary character
proceedings relating to certificates of candidacy. That is why the law
makes the receipt of certificates of candidacy a ministerial duty of the
The lack of provision for declaring the ineligibility of candidates,
COMELEC and its officers. The law is satisfied if candidates state in
however, cannot be supplied by a mere rule. Such an act is equivalent
their certificates of candidacy that they are eligible for the position
to the creation of a cause of action which is a substantive matter
which they seek to fill, leaving the determination of their
which the COMELEC, in the exercise of its rule-making power under
qualifications to be made after the election and only in the event they
Art. IX, A, §6 of the Constitution, cannot do it. It is noteworthy that
are elected. Only in cases involving charges of false representations
the Constitution withholds from the COMELEC even the power to
made in certificates of candidacy is the COMELEC given jurisdiction.
decide cases involving the right to vote, which essentially involves an
inquiry into qualifications based on age, residence and citizenship of
voters. [Art. IX, C, §2(3)] Third is the policy underlying the prohibition against pre-
proclamation cases in elections for President, Vice President, Senators

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and members of the House of Representatives. (R.A. No. 7166, § 15) Constitution,109 they then cannot be citizens. As the COMELEC
The purpose is to preserve the prerogatives of the House of stated in oral arguments, when petitioner admitted that she is a
Representatives Electoral Tribunal and the other Tribunals as "sole foundling, she said it all. This borders on bigotry. Oddly, in an effort
judges" under the Constitution of the election, returns and at tolerance, the COMELEC, after saying that it cannot rule that herein
qualifications of members of Congress of the President and Vice petitioner possesses blood relationship with a Filipino citizen when "it
President, as the case may be.106 is certain that such relationship is indemonstrable," proceeded to say
that "she now has the burden to present evidence to prove her
To be sure, the authoritativeness of the Romualdez pronouncements natural filiation with a Filipino parent."
as reiterated in Fermin, led to the amendment through COMELEC
Resolution No. 9523, on 25 September 2012 of its Rule 25. This, the The fact is that petitioner's blood relationship with a Filipino citizen is
15 February1993 version of Rule 25, which states that: DEMONSTRABLE.

Grounds for disqualification. -Any candidate who does not possess all At the outset, it must be noted that presumptions regarding paternity
the qualifications of a candidate as provided for by the Constitution is neither unknown nor unaccepted in Philippine Law. The Family
or by existing law or who commits any act declared by law to be Code of the Philippines has a whole chapter on Paternity and
grounds for disqualification may be disqualified from continuing as a Filiation.110 That said, there is more than sufficient evider1ce that
candidate.107 petitioner has Filipino parents and is therefore a natural-born Filipino.
Parenthetically, the burden of proof was on private respondents to
was in the 2012 rendition, drastically changed to: show that petitioner is not a Filipino citizen. The private respondents
should have shown that both of petitioner's parents were aliens. Her
admission that she is a foundling did not shift the burden to her
Grounds. - Any candidate who, in action or protest in which he is a because such status did not exclude the possibility that her parents
party, is declared by final decision of a competent court, guilty of, or were Filipinos, especially as in this case where there is a high
found by the Commission to be suffering from any disqualification probability, if not certainty, that her parents are Filipinos.
provided by law or the Constitution.

The factual issue is not who the parents of petitioner are, as their
A Petition to Disqualify a Candidate invoking grounds for a Petition identities are unknown, but whether such parents are Filipinos. Under
to Deny to or Cancel a Certificate of Candidacy or Petition to Declare Section 4, Rule 128:
a Candidate as a Nuisance Candidate, or a combination thereof, shall
be summarily dismissed.
Sect. 4. Relevancy, collateral matters - Evidence must have such a
relation to the fact in issue as to induce belief in its existence or no-
Clearly, the amendment done in 2012 is an acceptance of the reality existence. Evidence on collateral matters shall not be allowed, except
of absence of an authorized proceeding for determining before when it tends in any reasonable degree to establish the probability of
election the qualifications of candidate. Such that, as presently improbability of the fact in issue.
required, to disqualify a candidate there must be a declaration by a
final judgment of a competent court that the candidate sought to be
disqualified "is guilty of or found by the Commission to be suffering The Solicitor General offered official statistics from the Philippine
from any disqualification provided by law or the Constitution." Statistics Authority (PSA)111 that from 1965 to 1975, the total
number of foreigners born in the Philippines was 15,986 while the
total number of Filipinos born in the country was 10,558,278. The
Insofar as the qualification of a candidate is concerned, Rule 25 and statistical probability that any child born in the Philippines in that
Rule 23 are flipsides of one to the other. Both do not allow, are not decade is natural-born Filipino was 99.83%. For her part, petitioner
authorizations, are not vestment of jurisdiction, for the COMELEC to presented census statistics for Iloilo Province for 1960 and 1970, also
determine the qualification of a candidate. The facts of qualification from the PSA. In 1960, there were 962,532 Filipinos and 4,734
must beforehand be established in a prior proceeding before an foreigners in the province; 99.62% of the population were Filipinos.
authority properly vested with jurisdiction. The prior determination of In 1970, the figures were 1,162,669 Filipinos and 5,304 foreigners, or
qualification may be by statute, by executive order or by a judgment 99.55%. Also presented were figures for the child producing ages
of a competent court or tribunal. (15-49). In 1960, there were 230,528 female Filipinos as against 730
female foreigners or 99.68%. In the same year, there were 210,349
If a candidate cannot be disqualified without a prior finding that he Filipino males and 886 male aliens, or 99.58%. In 1970, there were
or she is suffering from a disqualification "provided by law or the 270,299 Filipino females versus 1, 190 female aliens, or 99.56%. That
Constitution," neither can the certificate of candidacy be cancelled or same year, there were 245,740 Filipino males as against only 1,165
denied due course on grounds of false representations regarding his male aliens or 99.53%. COMELEC did not dispute these figures.
or her qualifications, without a prior authoritative finding that he or Notably, Commissioner Arthur Lim admitted, during the oral
she is not qualified, such prior authority being the necessary measure arguments, that at the time petitioner was found in 1968, the
by which the falsity of the representation can be found. The only majority of the population in Iloilo was Filipino.112
exception that can be conceded are self-evident facts of
unquestioned or unquestionable veracity and judicial confessions. Other circumstantial evidence of the nationality of petitioner's
Such are, anyway, bases equivalent to prior decisions against which parents are the fact that she was abandoned as an infant in a Roman
the falsity of representation can be determined. Catholic Church in Iloilo City.1âwphi1 She also has typical Filipino
features: height, flat nasal bridge, straight black hair, almond shaped
The need for a predicate finding or final pronouncement in a eyes and an oval face.
proceeding under Rule 23 that deals with, as in this case, alleged false
representations regarding the candidate's citizenship and residence, There is a disputable presumption that things have happened
forced the COMELEC to rule essentially that since foundlings108 are according to the ordinary course of nature and the ordinary habits of
not mentioned in the enumeration of citizens under the 1935 life.113 All of the foregoing evidence, that a person with typical

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Filipino features is abandoned in Catholic Church in a municipality there is no restrictive language which would definitely exclude
where the population of the Philippines is overwhelmingly Filipinos foundlings either. Because of silence and ambiguity in the
such that there would be more than a 99% chance that a child born enumeration with respect to foundlings, there is a need to examine
in the province would be a Filipino, would indicate more than ample the intent of the framers. In Nitafan v. Commissioner of Internal
probability if not statistical certainty, that petitioner's parents are Revenue,114 this Court held that:
Filipinos. That probability and the evidence on which it is based are
admissible under Rule 128, Section 4 of the Revised Rules on The ascertainment of that intent is but in keeping with the
Evidence. fundamental principle of constitutional construction that
the intent of the framers of the organic law and of the
To assume otherwise is to accept the absurd, if not the virtually people adopting it should be given effect. The primary task
impossible, as the norm. In the words of the Solicitor General: in constitutional construction is to ascertain and thereafter
assure the realization of the purpose of the framers and of
Second. It is contrary to common sense because foreigners do not the people in the adoption of the Constitution. It may also
come to the Philippines so they can get pregnant and leave their be safely assumed that the people in ratifying the
newborn babies behind. We do not face a situation where the Constitution were guided mainly by the explanation
probability is such that every foundling would have a 50% chance of offered by the framers.115
being a Filipino and a 50% chance of being a foreigner. We need to
frame our questions properly. What are the chances that the parents As pointed out by petitioner as well as the Solicitor General, the
of anyone born in the Philippines would be foreigners? Almost zero. deliberations of the 1934 Constitutional Convention show that the
What are the chances that the parents of anyone born in the framers intended foundlings to be covered by the enumeration. The
Philippines would be Filipinos? 99.9%. following exchange is recorded:

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, from 2010 to 2014, Sr. Rafols: For an amendment. I propose that after subsection 2, the
on a yearly average, there were 1,766,046 children born in the following is inserted: "The natural children of a foreign father and a
Philippines to Filipino parents, as opposed to 1,301 children in the Filipino mother not recognized by the father.
Philippines of foreign parents. Thus, for that sample period, the ratio
of non-Filipino children to natural born Filipino children is 1:1357. xxxx
This means that the statistical probability that any child born in the
Philippines would be a natural born Filipino is 99.93%.
President:
[We] would like to request a clarification from the proponent of the
From 1965 to 1975, the total number of foreigners born in the amendment. The gentleman refers to natural children or to any kind
Philippines is 15,986 while the total number of Filipinos born in the of illegitimate children?
Philippines is 15,558,278. For this period, the ratio of non-Filipino
children is 1:661. This means that the statistical probability that any
child born in the Philippines on that decade would be a natural born Sr. Rafols:
Filipino is 99.83%. To all kinds of illegitimate children. It also includes natural children of
unknown parentage, natural or illegitimate children of unknown
parents.
We can invite statisticians and social anthropologists to crunch the
numbers for us, but I am confident that the statistical probability that
a child born in the Philippines would be a natural born Filipino will Sr. Montinola:
not be affected by whether or not the parents are known. If at all, the For clarification. The gentleman said "of unknown parents." Current
likelihood that a foundling would have a Filipino parent might even codes consider them Filipino, that is, I refer to the Spanish Code
be higher than 99.9%. Filipinos abandon their children out of poverty wherein all children of unknown parentage born in Spanish territory
or perhaps, shame. We do not imagine foreigners abandoning their are considered Spaniards, because the presumption is that a child of
children here in the Philippines thinking those infants would have unknown parentage is the son of a Spaniard. This may be applied in
better economic opportunities or believing that this country is a the Philippines in that a child of unknown parentage born in the
tropical paradise suitable for raising abandoned children. I certainly Philippines is deemed to be Filipino, and there is no need ...
doubt whether a foreign couple has ever considered their child
excess baggage that is best left behind. Sr. Rafols:
There is a need, because we are relating the conditions that are
To deny full Filipino citizenship to all foundlings and render them [required] to be Filipino.
stateless just because there may be a theoretical chance that one
among the thousands of these foundlings might be the child of not Sr. Montinola:
just one, but two, foreigners is downright discriminatory, irrational, But that is the interpretation of the law, therefore, there is no [more]
and unjust. It just doesn't make any sense. Given the statistical need for amendment.
certainty - 99.9% - that any child born in the Philippines would be a
natural born citizen, a decision denying foundlings such status is Sr. Rafols:
effectively a denial of their birthright. There is no reason why this The amendment should read thus:
Honorable Court should use an improbable hypothetical to sacrifice "Natural or illegitimate of a foreign father and a Filipino mother
the fundamental political rights of an entire class of human beings. recognized by one, or the children of unknown parentage."
Your Honor, constitutional interpretation and the use of common
sense are not separate disciplines.
Sr. Briones:
The amendment [should] mean children born in the Philippines of
As a matter of law, foundlings are as a class, natural-born citizens. unknown parentage.
While the 1935 Constitution's enumeration is silent as to foundlings,

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Sr. Rafols: can even overturn existing rules. This is basic. What matters here is
The son of a Filipina to a Foreigner, although this [person] does not that Montinola and Roxas were able to convince their colleagues in
recognize the child, is not unknown. the convention that there is no more need to expressly declare
foundlings as Filipinos because they are already impliedly so
President: recognized.
Does the gentleman accept the amendment or not?
In other words, the constitutional silence is fully explained in terms of
Sr. Rafols: linguistic efficiency and the avoidance of redundancy. The policy is
I do not accept the amendment because the amendment would clear: it is to recognize foundlings, as a class, as Filipinos under Art.
exclude the children of a Filipina with a foreigner who does not IV, Section 1 (3) of the 1935 Constitution. This inclusive policy is
recognize the child. Their parentage is not unknown and I think those carried over into the 1973 and 1987 Constitution. It is appropriate to
of overseas Filipino mother and father [whom the latter] does not invoke a famous scholar as he was paraphrased by Chief Justice
recognize, should also be considered as Filipinos. Fernando: the constitution is not silently silent, it is silently vocal. 118

President: The Solicitor General makes the further point that the framers
The question in order is the amendment to the amendment from the "worked to create a just and humane society," that "they were
Gentleman from Cebu, Mr. Briones. reasonable patriots and that it would be unfair to impute upon them
a discriminatory intent against foundlings." He exhorts that, given the
grave implications of the argument that foundlings are not natural-
Sr. Busion: born Filipinos, the Court must search the records of the 1935, 1973
Mr. President, don't you think it would be better to leave this matter and 1987 Constitutions "for an express intention to deny foundlings
in the hands of the Legislature? the status of Filipinos. The burden is on those who wish to use the
constitution to discriminate against foundlings to show that the
Sr. Roxas: constitution really intended to take this path to the dark side and
Mr. President, my humble opinion is that these cases are few and far inflict this across the board marginalization."
in between, that the constitution need [not] refer to them. By
international law the principle that children or people born in a country We find no such intent or language permitting discrimination against
of unknown parents are citizens in this nation is recognized, and it is foundlings. On the contrary, all three Constitutions guarantee the
not necessary to include a provision on the subject exhaustively.116 basic right to equal protection of the laws. All exhort the State to
render social justice. Of special consideration are several provisions in
Though the Rafols amendment was not carried out, it was not the present charter: Article II, Section 11 which provides that the
because there was any objection to the notion that persons of "State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full
"unknown parentage" are not citizens but only because their number respect for human rights," Article XIII, Section 1 which mandates
was not enough to merit specific mention. Such was the account,117 Congress to "give highest priority to the enactment of measures that
cited by petitioner, of delegate and constitution law author Jose protect and enhance the right of all the people to human dignity,
Aruego who said: reduce social, economic, and political inequalities x x x" and Article
XV, Section 3 which requires the State to defend the "right of children
During the debates on this provision, Delegate Rafols to assistance, including proper care and nutrition, and special
presented an amendment to include as Filipino citizens the protection from all forms of neglect, abuse, cruelty, exploitation, and
illegitimate children with a foreign father of a mother who other conditions prejudicial to their development." Certainly, these
was a citizen of the Philippines, and also foundlings; but provisions contradict an intent to discriminate against foundlings on
this amendment was defeated primarily because the account of their unfortunate status.
Convention believed that the cases, being too few to
warrant the inclusion of a provision in the Constitution to Domestic laws on adoption also support the principle that foundlings
apply to them, should be governed by statutory legislation. are Filipinos. These laws do not provide that adoption confers
Moreover, it was believed that the rules of international law citizenship upon the adoptee. Rather, the adoptee must be a Filipino
were already clear to the effect that illegitimate children in the first place to be adopted. The most basic of such laws is Article
followed the citizenship of the mother, and that foundlings 15 of the Civil Code which provides that "[l]aws relating to family
followed the nationality of the place where they were rights, duties, status, conditions, legal capacity of persons are binding
found, thereby making unnecessary the inclusion in the on citizens of the Philippines even though living abroad." Adoption
Constitution of the proposed amendment. deals with status, and a Philippine adoption court will have
jurisdiction only if the adoptee is a Filipino. In Ellis and Ellis v.
This explanation was likewise the position of the Solicitor General Republic,119 a child left by an unidentified mother was sought to be
during the 16 February 2016 Oral Arguments: adopted by aliens. This Court said:

We all know that the Rafols proposal was rejected. But note that what In this connection, it should be noted that this is a proceedings in
was declined was the proposal for a textual and explicit recognition rem, which no court may entertain unless it has jurisdiction, not only
of foundlings as Filipinos. And so, the way to explain the over the subject matter of the case and over the parties, but also over
constitutional silence is by saying that it was the view of Montinola the res, which is the personal status of Baby Rose as well as that of
and Roxas which prevailed that there is no more need to expressly petitioners herein. Our Civil Code (Art. 15) adheres to the theory that
declare foundlings as Filipinos. jurisdiction over the status of a natural person is determined by the
latter's nationality. Pursuant to this theory, we have jurisdiction over
the status of Baby Rose, she being a citizen of the Philippines, but not
Obviously, it doesn't matter whether Montinola's or Roxas' views
over the status of the petitioners, who are foreigners.120 (Underlining
were legally correct. Framers of a constitution can constitutionalize
supplied)
rules based on assumptions that are imperfect or even wrong. They

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Recent legislation is more direct. R.A. No. 8043 entitled "An Act the Philippine Constitution itself, as embodied in the due process and
Establishing the Rules to Govern the Inter-Country Adoption of equal protection clauses of the Bill of Rights.129
Filipino Children and For Other Purposes" (otherwise known as the
"Inter-Country Adoption Act of 1995"), R.A. No. 8552, entitled "An Act Universal Declaration of Human Rights ("UDHR") has been
Establishing the Rules and Policies on the Adoption of Filipino interpreted by this Court as part of the generally accepted principles
Children and For Other Purposes" (otherwise known as the Domestic of international law and binding on the State.130 Article 15 thereof
Adoption Act of 1998) and this Court's A.M. No. 02-6-02-SC or the states:
"Rule on Adoption," all expressly refer to "Filipino children" and
include foundlings as among Filipino children who may be adopted.
1. Everyone has the right to a nationality.

It has been argued that the process to determine that the child is a
foundling leading to the issuance of a foundling certificate under 2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor
these laws and the issuance of said certificate are acts to acquire or denied the right to change his nationality.
perfect Philippine citizenship which make the foundling a naturalized
Filipino at best. This is erroneous. Under Article IV, Section 2 "Natural- The Philippines has also ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of
born citizens are those who are citizens of the Philippines from birth the Child (UNCRC). Article 7 of the UNCRC imposes the following
without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their obligations on our country:
Philippine citizenship." In the first place, "having to perform an act"
means that the act must be personally done by the citizen. In this Article 7
instance, the determination of foundling status is done not by the
child but by the authorities.121 Secondly, the object of the process is
1. The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have
the determination of the whereabouts of the parents, not the
the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and
citizenship of the child. Lastly, the process is certainly not analogous
as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her
to naturalization proceedings to acquire Philippine citizenship, or the
parents.
election of such citizenship by one born of an alien father and a
Filipino mother under the 1935 Constitution, which is an act to
perfect it. 2. States Parties shall ensure the implementation of these rights in
accordance with their national law and their obligations under the
relevant international instruments in this field, in particular where the
In this instance, such issue is moot because there is no dispute that
child would otherwise be stateless.
petitioner is a foundling, as evidenced by a Foundling Certificate
issued in her favor.122 The Decree of Adoption issued on 13 May
1974, which approved petitioner's adoption by Jesusa Sonora Poe In 1986, the country also ratified the 1966 International Covenant on
and Ronald Allan Kelley Poe, expressly refers to Emiliano and his wife, Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 24 thereof provide for the
Rosario Militar, as her "foundling parents," hence effectively affirming right of every child "to acquire a nationality:"
petitioner's status as a foundling.123
Article 24
Foundlings are likewise citizens under international law. Under the
1987 Constitution, an international law can become part of the 1. Every child shall have, without any discrimination as to race, colour,
sphere of domestic law either by transformation or incorporation. The sex, language, religion, national or social origin, property or birth, the
transformation method requires that an international law be right, to such measures of protection as are required by his status as
transformed into a domestic law through a constitutional mechanism a minor, on the part of his family, society and the State.
such as local legislation.124 On the other hand, generally accepted
principles of international law, by virtue of the incorporation clause of
2. Every child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall
the Constitution, form part of the laws of the land even if they do not
have a name.
derive from treaty obligations. Generally accepted principles of
international law include international custom as evidence of a
general practice accepted as law, and general principles of law 3. Every child has the right to acquire a nationality.
recognized by civilized nations.125 International customary rules are
accepted as binding as a result from the combination of two The common thread of the UDHR, UNCRC and ICCPR is to obligate
elements: the established, widespread, and consistent practice on the the Philippines to grant nationality from birth and ensure that no
part of States; and a psychological element known as the opinionjuris child is stateless. This grant of nationality must be at the time of birth,
sive necessitates (opinion as to law or necessity). Implicit in the latter and it cannot be accomplished by the application of our present
element is a belief that the practice in question is rendered obligatory naturalization laws, Commonwealth Act No. 473, as amended, and
by the existence of a rule of law requiring it.126 "General principles of R.A. No. 9139, both of which require the applicant to be at least
law recognized by civilized nations" are principles "established by a eighteen (18) years old.
process of reasoning" or judicial logic, based on principles which are
"basic to legal systems generally,"127 such as "general principles of
The principles found in two conventions, while yet unratified by the
equity, i.e., the general principles of fairness and justice," and the
Philippines, are generally accepted principles of international law. The
"general principle against discrimination" which is embodied in the
first is Article 14 of the 1930 Hague Convention on Certain Questions
"Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant
Relating to the Conflict of Nationality Laws under which a foundling
on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Convention
is presumed to have the "nationality of the country of birth," to wit:
on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the
Convention Against Discrimination in Education, the Convention (No.
111) Concerning Discrimination in Respect of Employment and Article 14
Occupation."128 These are the same core principles which underlie

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A child whose parents are both unknown shall have the nationality of Petitioner's evidence137 shows that at least sixty countries in Asia,
the country of birth. If the child's parentage is established, its North and South America, and Europe have passed legislation
nationality shall be determined by the rules applicable in cases where recognizing foundlings as its citizen. Forty-two (42) of those countries
the parentage is known. follow the jus sanguinis regime. Of the sixty, only thirty-three (33) are
parties to the 1961 Convention on Statelessness; twenty-six (26) are
A foundling is, until the contrary is proved, presumed to have been not signatories to the Convention. Also, the Chief Justice, at the 2
born on the territory of the State in which it was found. (Underlining February 2016 Oral Arguments pointed out that in 166 out of 189
supplied) countries surveyed (or 87.83%), foundlings are recognized as citizens.
These circumstances, including the practice of jus sanguinis countries,
show that it is a generally accepted principle of international law to
The second is the principle that a foundling is presumed born of presume foundlings as having been born of nationals of the country
citizens of the country where he is found, contained in Article 2 of the in which the foundling is found.
1961 United Nations Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness:

Current legislation reveals the adherence of the Philippines to this


Article 2 generally accepted principle of international law. In particular, R.A.
No. 8552, R.A. No. 8042 and this Court's Rules on Adoption, expressly
A foundling found in the territory of a Contracting State shall, in the refer to "Filipino children." In all of them, foundlings are among the
absence of proof to the contrary, be considered to have been born Filipino children who could be adopted. Likewise, it has been pointed
within the territory of parents possessing the nationality of that State. that the DFA issues passports to foundlings. Passports are by law,
issued only to citizens. This shows that even the executive
That the Philippines is not a party to the 1930 Hague Convention nor department, acting through the DFA, considers foundlings as
to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness does not Philippine citizens.
mean that their principles are not binding. While the Philippines is
not a party to the 1930 Hague Convention, it is a signatory to the Adopting these legal principles from the 1930 Hague Convention and
Universal Declaration on Human Rights, Article 15(1) ofwhich131 the 1961 Convention on Statelessness is rational and reasonable and
effectively affirms Article 14 of the 1930 Hague Convention. Article 2 consistent with the jus sanguinis regime in our Constitution. The
of the 1961 "United Nations Convention on the Reduction of presumption of natural-born citizenship of foundlings stems from the
Statelessness" merely "gives effect" to Article 15(1) of the UDHR.132 presumption that their parents are nationals of the Philippines. As the
In Razon v. Tagitis, 133 this Court noted that the Philippines had not empirical data provided by the PSA show, that presumption is at
signed or ratified the "International Convention for the Protection of more than 99% and is a virtual certainty.
All Persons from Enforced Disappearance." Yet, we ruled that the
proscription against enforced disappearances in the said convention In sum, all of the international law conventions and instruments on
was nonetheless binding as a "generally accepted principle of the matter of nationality of foundlings were designed to address the
international law." Razon v. Tagitis is likewise notable for declaring plight of a defenseless class which suffers from a misfortune not of
the ban as a generally accepted principle of international law their own making. We cannot be restrictive as to their application if
although the convention had been ratified by only sixteen states and we are a country which calls itself civilized and a member of the
had not even come into force and which needed the ratification of a community of nations. The Solicitor General's warning in his opening
minimum of twenty states. Additionally, as petitioner points out, the statement is relevant:
Court was content with the practice of international and regional
state organs, regional state practice in Latin America, and State
Practice in the United States. .... the total effect of those documents is to signify to this Honorable
Court that those treaties and conventions were drafted because the
world community is concerned that the situation of foundlings
Another case where the number of ratifying countries was not renders them legally invisible. It would be tragically ironic if this
determinative is Mijares v. Ranada, 134 where only four countries had Honorable Court ended up using the international instruments which
"either ratified or acceded to"135 the 1966 "Convention on the seek to protect and uplift foundlings a tool to deny them political
Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil and status or to accord them second-class citizenship.138
Commercial Matters" when the case was decided in 2005. The Court
also pointed out that that nine member countries of the European
Common Market had acceded to the Judgments Convention. The The COMELEC also ruled139 that petitioner's repatriation in July 2006
Court also cited U.S. laws and jurisprudence on recognition of foreign under the provisions of R.A. No. 9225 did not result in the
judgments. In all, only the practices of fourteen countries were reacquisition of natural-born citizenship. The COMELEC reasoned that
considered and yet, there was pronouncement that recognition of since the applicant must perform an act, what is reacquired is not
foreign judgments was widespread practice. "natural-born" citizenship but only plain "Philippine citizenship."

Our approach in Razon and Mijares effectively takes into account the The COMELEC's rule arrogantly disregards consistent jurisprudence
fact that "generally accepted principles of international law" are on the matter of repatriation statutes in general and of R.A. No. 9225
based not only on international custom, but also on "general in particular.
principles of law recognized by civilized nations," as the phrase is
understood in Article 38.1 paragraph (c) of the ICJ Statute. Justice, In the seminal case of Bengson Ill v. HRET, 140 repatriation was
fairness, equity and the policy against discrimination, which are explained as follows:
fundamental principles underlying the Bill of Rights and which are
"basic to legal systems generally,"136 support the notion that the Moreover, repatriation results in the recovery of the original
right against enforced disappearances and the recognition of foreign nationality. This means that a naturalized Filipino who lost his
judgments, were correctly considered as "generally accepted citizenship will be restored to his prior status as a naturalized Filipino
principles of international law" under the incorporation clause. citizen. On the other hand, if he was originally a natural-born citizen

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before he lost his Philippine citizenship, he will be restored to his Lastly, it was repeatedly pointed out during the oral arguments that
former status as a natural-born Filipino. petitioner committed a falsehood when she put in the spaces for
"born to" in her application for repatriation under R.A. No. 9225 the
R.A. No. 9225 is a repatriation statute and has been described as such names of her adoptive parents, and this misled the BI to presume
in several cases. They include Sobejana-Condon v. COMELEC141 that she was a natural-born Filipino. It has been contended that the
where we described it as an "abbreviated repatriation process that data required were the names of her biological parents which are
restores one's Filipino citizenship x x x." Also included is Parreno v. precisely unknown.
Commission on Audit,142 which cited Tabasa v. Court of Appeals,143
where we said that "[t]he repatriation of the former Filipino will allow This position disregards one important fact - petitioner was legally
him to recover his natural-born citizenship. Parreno v. Commission on adopted. One of the effects of adoption is "to sever all legal ties
Audit144 is categorical that "if petitioner reacquires his Filipino between the biological parents and the adoptee, except when the
citizenship (under R.A. No. 9225), he will ... recover his natural-born biological parent is the spouse of the adoptee."149 Under R.A. No.
citizenship." 8552, petitioner was also entitled to an amended birth certificate
"attesting to the fact that the adoptee is the child of the adopter(s)"
The COMELEC construed the phrase "from birth" in the definition of and which certificate "shall not bear any notation that it is an
natural citizens as implying "that natural-born citizenship must begin amended issue."150 That law also requires that "[a]ll records, books,
at birth and remain uninterrupted and continuous from birth." R.A. and papers relating to the adoption cases in the files of the court, the
No. 9225 was obviously passed in line with Congress' sole Department [of Social Welfare and Development], or any other
prerogative to determine how citizenship may be lost or reacquired. agency or institution participating in the adoption proceedings shall
Congress saw it fit to decree that natural-born citizenship may be be kept strictly confidential."151 The law therefore allows petitioner
reacquired even if it had been once lost. It is not for the COMELEC to to state that her adoptive parents were her birth parents as that was
disagree with the Congress' determination. what would be stated in her birth certificate anyway. And given the
policy of strict confidentiality of adoption records, petitioner was not
obligated to disclose that she was an adoptee.
More importantly, COMELEC's position that natural-born status must
be continuous was already rejected in Bengson III v. HRET145 where
the phrase "from birth" was clarified to mean at the time of birth: "A Clearly, to avoid a direct ruling on the qualifications of petitioner,
person who at the time of his birth, is a citizen of a particular country, which it cannot make in the same case for cancellation of COC, it
is a natural-born citizen thereof." Neither is "repatriation" an act to resorted to opinionatedness which is, moreover, erroneous. The
"acquire or perfect" one's citizenship. In Bengson III v. HRET, this whole process undertaken by COMELEC is wrapped in grave abuse of
Court pointed out that there are only two types of citizens under the discretion.
1987 Constitution: natural-born citizen and naturalized, and that
there is no third category for repatriated citizens: On Residence

It is apparent from the enumeration of who are citizens under the The tainted process was repeated in disposing of the issue of
present Constitution that there are only two classes of citizens: (1) whether or not petitioner committed false material representation
those who are natural-born and (2) those who are naturalized in when she stated in her COC that she has before and until 9 May 2016
accordance with law. A citizen who is not a naturalized Filipino, ie., been a resident of the Philippines for ten (10) years and eleven (11)
did not have to undergo the process of naturalization to obtain months.
Philippine citizenship, necessarily is a natural-born Filipino.
Noteworthy is the absence in said enumeration of a separate Petitioner's claim that she will have been a resident for ten (10) years
category for persons who, after losing Philippine citizenship, and eleven (11) months on the day before the 2016 elections, is true.
subsequently reacquire it. The reason therefor is clear: as to such
persons, they would either be natural-born or naturalized depending
on the reasons for the loss of their citizenship and the mode The Constitution requires presidential candidates to have ten (10)
prescribed by the applicable law for the reacquisition thereof. As years' residence in the Philippines before the day of the elections.
respondent Cruz was not required by law to go through Since the forthcoming elections will be held on 9 May 2016,
naturalization proceedings in order to reacquire his citizenship, he is petitioner must have been a resident of the Philippines prior to 9 May
perforce a natural-born Filipino. As such, he possessed all the 2016 for ten (10) years. In answer to the requested information of
necessary qualifications to be elected as member of the House of "Period of Residence in the Philippines up to the day before May 09,
Representatives.146 2016," she put in "10 years 11 months" which according to her
pleadings in these cases corresponds to a beginning date of 25 May
2005 when she returned for good from the U.S.
The COMELEC cannot reverse a judicial precedent. That is reserved to
this Court. And while we may always revisit a doctrine, a new rule
reversing standing doctrine cannot be retroactively applied. In When petitioner immigrated to the U.S. in 1991, she lost her original
Morales v. Court of Appeals and Jejomar Erwin S. Binay, Jr.,147 where domicile, which is the Philippines. There are three requisites to
we decreed reversed the condonation doctrine, we cautioned that it acquire a new domicile: 1. Residence or bodily presence in a new
"should be prospective in application for the reason that judicial locality; 2. an intention to remain there; and 3. an intention to
decisions applying or interpreting the laws of the Constitution, until abandon the old domicile.152 To successfully effect a change of
reversed, shall form part of the legal system of the Philippines." This domicile, one must demonstrate an actual removal or an actual
Court also said that "while the future may ultimately uncover a change of domicile; a bona fide intention of abandoning the former
doctrine's error, it should be, as a general rule, recognized as good place of residence and establishing a new one and definite acts which
law prior to its abandonment. Consequently, the people's reliance correspond with the purpose. In other words, there must basically be
thereupon should be respected."148 animus manendi coupled with animus non revertendi. The purpose to
remain in or at the domicile of choice must be for an indefinite
period of time; the change of residence must be voluntary; and the

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residence at the place chosen for the new domicile must be COMELEC,162 the candidate was found to be an American citizen
actual.153 who had not even reacquired Philippine citizenship under R.A. No.
9225 or had renounced her U.S. citizenship. She was disqualified on
Petitioner presented voluminous evidence showing that she and her the citizenship issue. On residence, the only proof she offered was a
family abandoned their U.S. domicile and relocated to the Philippines seven-month stint as provincial officer. The COMELEC, quoted with
for good. These evidence include petitioner's former U.S. passport approval by this Court, said that "such fact alone is not sufficient to
showing her arrival on 24 May 2005 and her return to the Philippines prove her one-year residency."
every time she travelled abroad; e-mail correspondences starting in
March 2005 to September 2006 with a freight company to arrange It is obvious that because of the sparse evidence on residence in the
for the shipment of their household items weighing about 28,000 four cases cited by the respondents, the Court had no choice but to
pounds to the Philippines; e-mail with the Philippine Bureau of hold that residence could be counted only from acquisition of a
Animal Industry inquiring how to ship their dog to the Philippines; permanent resident visa or from reacquisition of Philippine
school records of her children showing enrollment in Philippine citizenship. In contrast, the evidence of petitioner is overwhelming
schools starting June 2005 and for succeeding years; tax identification and taken together leads to no other conclusion that she decided to
card for petitioner issued on July 2005; titles for condominium and permanently abandon her U.S. residence (selling the house, taking
parking slot issued in February 2006 and their corresponding tax the children from U.S. schools, getting quotes from the freight
declarations issued in April 2006; receipts dated 23 February 2005 company, notifying the U.S. Post Office of the abandonment of their
from the Salvation Army in the U.S. acknowledging donation of items address in the U.S., donating excess items to the Salvation Army, her
from petitioner's family; March 2006 e-mail to the U.S. Postal Service husband resigning from U.S. employment right after selling the U.S.
confirming request for change of address; final statement from the house) and permanently relocate to the Philippines and actually re-
First American Title Insurance Company showing sale of their U.S. established her residence here on 24 May 2005 (securing T.I.N,
home on 27 April 2006; 12 July 2011 filled-up questionnaire enrolling her children in Philippine schools, buying property here,
submitted to the U.S. Embassy where petitioner indicated that she constructing a residence here, returning to the Philippines after all
had been a Philippine resident since May 2005; affidavit from Jesusa trips abroad, her husband getting employed here). Indeed, coupled
Sonora Poe (attesting to the return of petitioner on 24 May 2005 and with her eventual application to reacquire Philippine citizenship and
that she and her family stayed with affiant until the condominium her family's actual continuous stay in the Philippines over the years, it
was purchased); and Affidavit from petitioner's husband (confirming is clear that when petitioner returned on 24 May 2005 it was for
that the spouses jointly decided to relocate to the Philippines in 2005 good.
and that he stayed behind in the U.S. only to finish some work and to
sell the family home). In this connection, the COMELEC also took it against petitioner that
she had entered the Philippines visa-free as a balikbayan. A closer
The foregoing evidence were undisputed and the facts were even look at R.A. No. 6768 as amended, otherwise known as the "An Act
listed by the COMELEC, particularly in its Resolution in the Tatad, Instituting a Balikbayan Program," shows that there is no overriding
Contreras and Valdez cases. intent to treat balikbayans as temporary visitors who must leave after
one year. Included in the law is a former Filipino who has been
However, the COMELEC refused to consider that petitioner's domicile naturalized abroad and "comes or returns to the Philippines." 163 The
had been timely changed as of 24 May 2005. At the oral arguments, law institutes a balikbayan program "providing the opportunity to
COMELEC Commissioner Arthur Lim conceded the presence of the avail of the necessary training to enable the balikbayan to become
first two requisites, namely, physical presence and animus manendi, economically self-reliant members of society upon their return to the
but maintained there was no animus non-revertendi.154 The country"164 in line with the government's "reintegration
COMELEC disregarded the import of all the evidence presented by program."165 Obviously, balikbayans are not ordinary transients.
petitioner on the basis of the position that the earliest date that
petitioner could have started residence in the Philippines was in July Given the law's express policy to facilitate the return of a balikbayan
2006 when her application under R.A. No. 9225 was approved by the and help him reintegrate into society, it would be an unduly harsh
BI. In this regard, COMELEC relied on Coquilla v. COMELEC,155 conclusion to say in absolute terms that the balikbayan must leave
Japzon v. COMELEC156 and Caballero v. COMELEC. 157 During the after one year. That visa-free period is obviously granted him to allow
oral arguments, the private respondents also added Reyes v. him to re-establish his life and reintegrate himself into the
COMELEC.158 Respondents contend that these cases decree that the community before he attends to the necessary formal and legal
stay of an alien former Filipino cannot be counted until he/she requirements of repatriation. And that is exactly what petitioner did -
obtains a permanent resident visa or reacquires Philippine citizenship, she reestablished life here by enrolling her children and buying
a visa-free entry under a balikbayan stamp being insufficient. Since property while awaiting the return of her husband and then applying
petitioner was still an American (without any resident visa) until her for repatriation shortly thereafter.
reacquisition of citizenship under R.A. No. 9225, her stay from 24 May
2005 to 7 July 2006 cannot be counted. No case similar to petitioner's, where the former Filipino's evidence of
change in domicile is extensive and overwhelming, has as yet been
But as the petitioner pointed out, the facts in these four cases are decided by the Court. Petitioner's evidence of residence is
very different from her situation. In Coquilla v. COMELEC,159 the only unprecedented. There is no judicial precedent that comes close to the
evidence presented was a community tax certificate secured by the facts of residence of petitioner. There is no indication in Coquilla v.
candidate and his declaration that he would be running in the COMELEC,166 and the other cases cited by the respondents that the
elections. Japzon v. COMELEC160 did not involve a candidate who Court intended to have its rulings there apply to a situation where
wanted to count residence prior to his reacquisition of Philippine the facts are different. Surely, the issue of residence has been decided
citizenship. With the Court decreeing that residence is distinct from particularly on the facts-of-the case basis.
citizenship, the issue there was whether the candidate's acts after
reacquisition sufficed to establish residence. In Caballero v. COMELEC, To avoid the logical conclusion pointed out by the evidence of
161 the candidate admitted that his place of work was abroad and residence of petitioner, the COMELEC ruled that petitioner's claim of
that he only visited during his frequent vacations. In Reyes v. residence of ten (10) years and eleven (11) months by 9 May 2016 in

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her 2015 COC was false because she put six ( 6) years and six ( 6) brought up in the media on 2 June 2015 by Rep. Tobias Tiangco of
months as "period of residence before May 13, 2013" in her 2012 the United Nationalist Alliance. Petitioner appears to have answered
COC for Senator. Thus, according to the COMELEC, she started being the issue immediately, also in the press. Respondents have not
a Philippine resident only in November 2006. In doing so, the disputed petitioner's evidence on this point. From that time therefore
COMELEC automatically assumed as true the statement in the 2012 when Rep. Tiangco discussed it in the media, the stated period of
COC and the 2015 COC as false. residence in the 2012 COC and the circumstances that surrounded
the statement were already matters of public record and were not
As explained by petitioner in her verified pleadings, she hidden.
misunderstood the date required in the 2013 COC as the period of
residence as of the day she submitted that COC in 2012. She said that Petitioner likewise proved that the 2012 COC was also brought up in
she reckoned residency from April-May 2006 which was the period the SET petition for quo warranto. Her Verified Answer, which was
when the U.S. house was sold and her husband returned to the filed on 1 September 2015, admitted that she made a mistake in the
Philippines. In that regard, she was advised by her lawyers in 2015 2012 COC when she put in six ( 6) years and six ( 6) months as she
that residence could be counted from 25 May 2005. misunderstood the question and could have truthfully indicated a
longer period. Her answer in the SET case was a matter of public
Petitioner's explanation that she misunderstood the query in 2012 record. Therefore, when petitioner accomplished her COC for President
(period of residence before 13 May 2013) as inquiring about on 15 October 2015, she could not be said to have been attempting to
residence as of the time she submitted the COC, is bolstered by the hide her erroneous statement in her 2012 COC for Senator which was
change which the COMELEC itself introduced in the 2015 COC which expressly mentioned in her Verified Answer.
is now "period of residence in the Philippines up to the day before
May 09, 2016." The COMELEC would not have revised the query if it The facts now, if not stretched to distortion, do not show or even hint
did not acknowledge that the first version was vague. at an intention to hide the 2012 statement and have it covered by the
2015 representation. Petitioner, moreover, has on her side this
That petitioner could have reckoned residence from a date earlier Court's pronouncement that:
than the sale of her U.S. house and the return of her husband is
plausible given the evidence that she had returned a year before. Concededly, a candidate's disqualification to run for public office
Such evidence, to repeat, would include her passport and the school does not necessarily constitute material misrepresentation which is
records of her children. the sole ground for denying due course to, and for the cancellation
of, a COC. Further, as already discussed, the candidate's
It was grave abuse of discretion for the COMELEC to treat the 2012 misrepresentation in his COC must not only refer to a material fact
COC as a binding and conclusive admission against petitioner. It (eligibility and qualifications for elective office), but should evince a
could be given in evidence against her, yes, but it was by no means deliberate intent to mislead, misinform or hide a fact which would
conclusive. There is precedent after all where a candidate's mistake as otherwise render a candidate ineligible. It must be made with an
to period of residence made in a COC was overcome by evidence. In intention to deceive the electorate as to one's qualifications to run
Romualdez-Marcos v. COMELEC,167 the candidate mistakenly put for public office.168
seven (7) months as her period of residence where the required
period was a minimum of one year. We said that "[i]t is the fact of In sum, the COMELEC, with the same posture of infallibilism, virtually
residence, not a statement in a certificate of candidacy which ought to ignored a good number of evidenced dates all of which can evince
be decisive in determining whether or not an individual has satisfied animus manendi to the Philippines and animus non revertedi to the
the constitutions residency qualification requirement." The COMELEC United States of America. The veracity of the events of coming and
ought to have looked at the evidence presented and see if petitioner staying home was as much as dismissed as inconsequential, the focus
was telling the truth that she was in the Philippines from 24 May having been fixed at the petitioner's "sworn declaration in her COC
2005. Had the COMELEC done its duty, it would have seen that the for Senator" which the COMELEC said "amounts to a declaration and
2012 COC and the 2015 COC both correctly stated the pertinent therefore an admission that her residence in the Philippines only
period of residency. commence sometime in November 2006"; such that "based on this
declaration, [petitioner] fails to meet the residency requirement for
The COMELEC, by its own admission, disregarded the evidence that President." This conclusion, as already shown, ignores the standing
petitioner actually and physically returned here on 24 May 2005 not jurisprudence that it is the fact of residence, not the statement of the
because it was false, but only because COMELEC took the position person that determines residence for purposes of compliance with
that domicile could be established only from petitioner's repatriation the constitutional requirement of residency for election as President.
under R.A. No. 9225 in July 2006. However, it does not take away the It ignores the easily researched matter that cases on questions of
fact that in reality, petitioner had returned from the U.S. and was here residency have been decided favorably for the candidate on the basis
to stay permanently, on 24 May 2005. When she claimed to have of facts of residence far less in number, weight and substance than
been a resident for ten (10) years and eleven (11) months, she could that presented by petitioner.169 It ignores, above all else, what we
do so in good faith. consider as a primary reason why petitioner cannot be bound by her
declaration in her COC for Senator which declaration was not even
considered by the SET as an issue against her eligibility for Senator.
For another, it could not be said that petitioner was attempting to When petitioner made the declaration in her COC for Senator that
hide anything. As already stated, a petition for quo warranto had she has been a resident for a period of six (6) years and six (6)
been filed against her with the SET as early as August 2015. The event months counted up to the 13 May 2013 Elections, she naturally had
from which the COMELEC pegged the commencement of residence, as reference the residency requirements for election as Senator which
petitioner's repatriation in July 2006 under R.A. No. 9225, was an was satisfied by her declared years of residence. It was uncontested
established fact to repeat, for purposes of her senatorial candidacy. during the oral arguments before us that at the time the declaration
for Senator was made, petitioner did not have as yet any intention to
Notably, on the statement of residence of six (6) years and six (6) vie for the Presidency in 2016 and that the general public was never
months in the 2012 COC, petitioner recounted that this was first made aware by petitioner, by word or action, that she would run for

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President in 2016. Presidential candidacy has a length-of-residence [T]he Certificate of Candidacy for President of the Republic of the
different from that of a senatorial candidacy. There are facts of Philippines in the May 9, 2016 National and Local Elections filed by
residence other than that which was mentioned in the COC for respondent Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe-Llamanzares is hereby
Senator. Such other facts of residence have never been proven to be GRANTED.
false, and these, to repeat include:
2. dated 11 December 2015, rendered through the COMELEC First
[Petitioner] returned to the Philippines on 24 May 2005. (petitioner's] Division, in the consolidated cases SPA No. 15-002 (DC) entitled
husband however stayed in the USA to finish pending projects and Francisco S. Tatad, petitioner, vs. Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe-
arrange the sale of their family home. Llamanzares, respondent; SPA No. 15-007 (DC) entitled Antonio P.
Contreras, petitioner, vs. Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe-
Meanwhile [petitioner] and her children lived with her mother in San Llamanzares, respondent; and SPA No. 15-139 (DC) entitled Amado D.
Juan City. [Petitioner] enrolled Brian in Beacon School in Taguig City Valdez, petitioner, v. Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe-Llamanzares,
in 2005 and Hanna in Assumption College in Makati City in 2005. respondent; stating that:
Anika was enrolled in Learning Connection in San Juan in 2007, when
she was already old enough to go to school. WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Commission RESOLVED, as it
hereby RESOLVES, to GRANT the petitions and cancel the Certificate
In the second half of 2005, [petitioner] and her husband acquired of Candidacy of MARY GRACE NATIVIDAD SONORA POE-
Unit 7F of One Wilson Place Condominium in San Juan. [Petitioner] LLAMANZARES for the elective position of President of the Republic
and her family lived in Unit 7F until the construction of their family of the Philippines in connection with the 9 May 2016 Synchronized
home in Corinthian Hills was completed. Local and National Elections.

Sometime in the second half of 2005, [petitioner's] mother 3. dated 23 December 2015 of the COMELEC En Banc, upholding the
discovered that her former lawyer who handled [petitioner's] 1 December 2015 Resolution of the Second Division stating that:
adoption in 1974 failed to secure from the Office of the Civil Registrar
of Iloilo a new Certificate of Live Birth indicating [petitioner's] new WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Commission RESOLVED, as it
name and stating that her parents are "Ronald Allan K. Poe" and hereby RESOLVES, to DENY the Verified Motion for Reconsideration
"Jesusa L. Sonora." of SENATOR MARY GRACE NATIVIDAD SONORA POE-
LLAMANZARES. The Resolution dated 11 December 2015 of the
In February 2006, [petitioner] travelled briefly to the US in order to Commission First Division is AFFIRMED.
supervise the disposal of some of the family's remaining household
belongings.1a\^/phi1 [Petitioner] returned to the Philippines on 11 4. dated 23 December 2015 of the COMELEC En Banc, upholding the
March 2006. 11 December 2015 Resolution of the First Division.

In late March 2006, [petitioner's] husband informed the United States are hereby ANNULED and SET ASIDE. Petitioner MARY GRACE
Postal Service of the family's abandonment of their address in the US. NATIVIDAD SONORA POE-LLAMANZARES is DECLARED QUALIFIED
to be a candidate for President in the National and Local Elections of
The family home in the US was sole on 27 April 2006. 9 May 2016. SO ORDERED.

In April 2006, [petitioner's] husband resigned from his work in the US. EN BANC G.R. No. 210759 June 23, 2015
He returned to the Philippines on 4 May 2006 and began working for
a Philippine company in July 2006. CHAIRPERSON SIEGFRED B. MISON, in his capacity as
Chairperson1 of Bureau of Immigration and Deportation,2
In early 2006, [petitioner] and her husband acquired a vacant lot in Petitioner,
Corinthian Hills, where they eventually built their family home.170 vs. HON. PAULINO Q. GALLEGOS, in his capacity as Presiding
Judge of the Regional Trial Court-Manila, Branch 47 and JA
HOON KU, Respondents.
In light of all these, it was arbitrary for the COMELEC to satisfy its
intention to let the case fall under the exclusive ground of false
representation, to consider no other date than that mentioned by G.R. No. 211403
petitioner in her COC for Senator.
CHAIRPERSON SIEGFRED B. MISON, as the Chairperson of
All put together, in the matter of the citizenship and residence of Bureau of Immigration and Deportation, Petitioner,
petitioner for her candidacy as President of the Republic, the vs. HON. PAULINO Q. GALLEGOS, as Presiding Judge of the
questioned Resolutions of the COMELEC in Division and En Banc are, Regional Trial Court-Manila, Branch 47 and JAHOONKU,
one and all, deadly diseased with grave abuse of discretion from root Respondents.
to fruits.
G.R. No. 211590
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Resolutions, to wit:
CHAIRPERSON SIEGFRED B. MISON, in his capacity as the
1. dated 1 December 2015 rendered through the COMELEC Second Chairperson of Bureau of Immigration and Deportation,
Division, in SPA No. 15-001 (DC), entitled Estrella C. Elamparo, Petitioner, vs. JA HOON KU, Respondent.
petitioner, vs. Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe-Llamanzares,
respondent, stating that: DECISION

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PEREZ, J.: On 28 January 2014, Judge Gallegos issued the first assailed Order
granting the motion for issuance of TPO, entrusting Ku’s custody to
The privilege of the writ of amparo is .an extraordinary remedy the Philippine National Red Cross and/or its Chairman CEO Richard
adopted to address the special concerns of extra-legal killings and Gordon, and directing the Philippine National Police-Police Security
enforced disappearances. Accordingly, the remedy ought to be and Protection Group (PNP-PSPG) to protect Ku and his immediate
resorted to and granted judiciously, lest the ideal sought by the family.24 On 29 January 2014, Judge Gallegos issued the second
Amparo Rule be diluted and undermined by the indiscriminate filing assailed Order directing the transfer of custody and protection of Ku
of Amparo petitions for purposes less than the desire to secure to the PNP-PSPG.25 Petitioner challenged these orders before the
amparo reliefs and protection and/or on the basis of unsubstantiated Court via a Petition for Certiorari26 docketed as G.R. No. 210759.
allegations.3
On 4 February 2014, the Court issued a Resolution in G.R. No. 210759
For the consideration of the Court are three consolidated petitions issuing a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) enjoining the
assailing the Orders dated 28 January 2014,4 29 January 2014,5 and enforcement of the Orders dated 28 and 29 January 2014 and
18 February 2014,6 as well as the Resolution dated 14 March 2014,7 directing the BI to retain custody of Ku, as well as requiring Ku to
all issued by respondent Presiding Judge Paulino Gallegos (Judge comment on the petition.27 In issuing this resolution, the Court
Gallegos) of the Regional Trial Court-Manila, Branch 47 in SP. PROC. intimated the possibility of misuse by Ku of the writ of amparo given
No. 14-131282. that he was validly arrested and placed under the jurisdiction and
custody of the BI; thus the case cannot be categorized as one of
extralegal killing or enforced disappearance.28
The records show that on 23 December 2013, the International
Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) of Seoul, Republic of Korea
sent a Notice8 to Interpol Manila requesting assistance in the Owing to the Court’s Resolution dated 4 February 2014, in the
location and deportation of respondent Ja Hoon Ku (Ku) for hearing set on 11 February 2014 before the trial court, petitioner
arbitrarily spending money allotted as reserve fund of Phildip Korea verbally moved for the dismissal of the amparo petition.29On 18
Co., Ltd. Consequently, the Embassy of the Republic of Korea wrote a February 2014, however, Judge Gallegos issued the third assailed
Letter-Request9 to petitioner, Hon. Siegfred Mison, Chairperson of order denying the motion to dismiss for lack of merit.30Thus,
the Bureau of Immigration (BI), for the immediate arrest and petitioner appealed the matter to the Court via the Petition for
deportatio n of Ku to Korea for being an undesirable alien. Certiorari and Prohibition31 docketed as G.R. No. 211403.

Meanwhile, on 1 January 2014, Ku’s visa expired.10 On 25 February 2014, Ku filed an appeal memorandum on his
deportation order addressed to the Office of the President (OP).32

On 3 January 2014, Special Prosecutor Maria Antonette Bucasas-


Mangrobang charged Ku for being a risk to public interest pursuant On 14 March 2014, Judge Gallegos issued the assailed Resolution
to Sec. 69, Act No. 2711.11This finding was approved by the BI Board granting the privilege of the writ of amparo, to wit:
of Commissioners which, on 16 January 2014, issued a Summary
Deportation Order.12 WHEREFORE, the privilege of the Writ of Amparo is hereby GRANTED.
[Ku] is ordered immediately released from [petitioner’s] custody
On the same day, 16 January 2014, BI officers, with the assistance of without prejudice to the institution of the proper remedy to
the Manila Police District-Warrant and Subpoena Section, arrested extradition. Moreover, the [petitioner] and/or agents are ordered to
Ku. Upon arrival at the BI detention center, Ku was detained.13 cease and desist from further violating the right to liberty of [Ku] and
the members of his family by filing cases to legitimize his
detention.33
On 17 January 2014, the Republic of Korea voided Ku’s passport.14

Meanwhile, in the Resolution dated 18 March 2014 in G.R. No.


Also on 17 January 2014, Ku filed a Petition for the Issuance of a Writ 211403, the Court issued a TRO enjoining the RTC from enforcing the
of Amparo with Interim Remedies, docketed as SP PROC. No. 14- Order dated 18 February 2014 and from further proceeding with the
131282.15 On 22 January 2014, he also filed a Supplemental Petition case.34
for the Issuance of a Writ of Amparo.16

On 19 March 2014, the OP granted Ku provisional liberty only until 31


Finding said supple mental petition to be sufficient in form and August 2014 or until his appeal was resolved, whichever came
substance, Judge Gallegos, in an Order dated 22 January 2014, issued first.35Ku then moved for the release of his passport before the RTC,
a Writ of Amparo.17 On 24 January 2014, Ku filed a Motion for the which petitioner opposed and to which he filed a counter-motion for
Issuance of a Temporary Protection Order (TPO).18 Judge Gallegos the RTC to release said passport to the BI, given that such was one of
then set the hearing on the TPO on 27 January 2014 at 8:30 a.m.,19 the conditions for the OP’s grant of provisional liberty to Ku.36 In the
while he set the hearing on the petition for the issuance of a writ of Order dated 26 March 2014, however, Judge Gallegos merely noted
amparo on 29 January 2014 at 8:30 a.m.20 petitioner’s motion for being moot, considering that he already
released Ku’s passport on 20 March 2014, upon the personal request
In the afternoon of 27 January 2014, petitioner filed his Return of the of Ku.37
Writ.21 He was then notified that a hearing on the TPO was held
earlier in the morning and that the same was already submitted for Due to the complexities involved, petitioner filed the Petition for
resolution.22 Review on Certiorari in G.R. No. 211590, essentially assailing the
Resolution dated 14 March 2014.
Petitioner then filed an Opposition to the Motion for Issuance of TPO
on 28 January 2014.23

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Condensing the various issues raised in these petitions,38 we come As clarified in Navia, with the enactment of R.A. No. 9851, the
to the central question of whether or not the privilege of the writ of Amparo Rule is now a procedural law anchored, not only on the
amparo was properly granted in the case at bar. constitutional rights to life, liberty and security, but on a concrete
statutory definition as well of what an ‘enforced or involuntary
We rule in the negative. disappearance’ is. Therefore, A.M. No. 07-9-12-SC’s reference to
enforced disappearances should be construed to mean the enforced
or involuntary disappearance of persons contemplated in Section 3(g)
Section 1 of the Rule on the Writ of Amparo (Amparo Rule)39 of R.A. No. 9851. Meaning, in probing enforced disappearance cases,
provides: courts should read A.M. No. 07-9-12-SC in relation to R.A. No.
9851.45
SECTION 1. Petition. – The petition for a writ of amparo is a remedy
available to any person whose right to life, liberty and security is Guided by the parameters of R.A. No. 9851, we can readily discern
violated or threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omission that Ku’s circumstance does not come under the statutory definition
of a public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity. of an enforced or involuntary disappearance. Indeed, Ku was arrested
by agents of the BI, but there was no refusal on the part of the BI to
The writ shall cover extralegal killings and enforced disappearances acknowledge such arrest nor was there any refusal to give
or threats thereof. information on the whereabouts of Ku. Neither can it be said that the
BI had any intention to remove Ku from the protection of the law for
On 25 September 2007, the Court promulgated the Amparo Rule "in a prolonged time.
light of the prevalence of extralegal killings and enforced
disappearances." It was an exercise for the first time of the Court’s Although Ku claims that he was arbitrarily arrested and detained by
expanded power to promulgate rules to protect our people’ s agents of the BI, that he was not read his rights under the
constitutional rights, which made its maiden appearance in the 1987 constitution and was not informed of the reason for hi s arrest, nor
Constitution in response to the Filipino experience of the martial law provided a copy of any document leading to his arrest and
regime. As the Amparo Rule was intended to address the intractable detention,46 the arresting officers are all consistent in testifying that,
problem of "extralegal killings" and "enforced disappearances," its upon Ku’s arrest, they introduced themselves as agents of the BI,
coverage, in its present form, is confined to these two instances or to presented to Ku the Warrant of Deportation, and informed him of his
threats thereof. "Extralegal killings" are ‘killings committed without constitutional rights as well as the expiration of his visa.47
due process of law, i.e., without legal safeguards or judicial
proceedings." On the other hand, "enforced disappearances" are More importantly, there was no attempt on the part of the BI to
"attended by the following characteristics: an arrest, detention or conceal Ku or his whereabouts. Within the Bureau, Ku’s arrest and the
abduction of a person by a government official or organized groups fact that he was in their custody was not obscured as, in fact, these
or private individuals acting with the direct or indirect acquiescence were well-documented as evidenced by the Return of Warrant of
of the government; the refusal of the State to disclose the fate or Deportation dated 20 January 201448 and the After-Mission Report
where about s of the person concerned or a refusal to acknowledge dated 17 January 2014.49
the deprivation of liberty which places such persons outside the
protection of law."40
More importantly, in the Return of the Writ, petitioner readily
disclosed to the trial court that Ku was in the custody of the BI
This pronouncement on the coverage of the writ was further pursuant to a Warrant of Deportation and a Summary Deportation
cemented in the latter case of Lozada, Jr. v. Macapagal-Arroyo41 Order.50
where this Court explicitly declared that as it stands, the writ of
amparo is confined only to cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced
disappearances, or to threats thereof. As to what constitutes These documents and pleading show that there was never any
"enforced disappearance," the Court in Navia v. Pardico42 intention on the part of the BI to re move Ku from the protection of
enumerated the elements constituting "enforced disappearances" as the law for a prolonged time. Besides, when Ku was arrested at 9:30
the term is statutorily defined in Section 3(g) of Republic Act (R.A.) p.m. on 16 January 2014, and received at the BI Detention Center at
No. 9851,43 to wit: 11:30 p.m. also on 16 January 2014,51 the following day or on 17
January 2014, Ku’s counsel was immediately able to file his Entry of
Appearance with Motion for Reconsideration before the BI,52 thereby
(a) that there be an arrest, detention, abduction or any showing that Ku’s legal rights were amply guarded and that he was
form of deprivation of liberty; never removed from the protection of the law.

(b) that it be carried out by, or with the authorization, Section 5 of the Amparo Rule enumerates what an amparo petition
support or acquiescence of, the State or a political should contain, among which is the right to life, liberty and security
organization; of the aggrieved party violated or threatened with violation by an
unlawful act or omission of the respondent, and how such threat or
(c) that it be followed by the State or political violation is committed with the attendant circumstances detailed in
organization’s refusal to acknowledge or give information supporting affidavits, to wit:
on the fate or whereabouts of the person subject of the
amparo petition; and SEC. 5. Contents of Petition. – The petition shall be signed and
verified and shall allege the following:
(d) that the intention for such refusal is to remove the
subject person from the protection of the law for a (a) The personal circumstances of the petitioner;
prolonged period of time.44

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(b) The name and personal circumstances of the It is to be additionally observed that Ku is guilty of forum shopping.
respondent responsible for the threat, act or omission, or, if Being the subject of a Warrant of Deportation and a Summary
the name is unknown or uncertain, the respondent may be Deportation Order, Ku’s proper recourse is with the BI and, thereafter,
described by an assumed appellation; with the DOJ and the OP.56

(c) The right to life, liberty and security of the aggrieved Ku knows this and, in fact, he filed a Motion for Reconsideration
party violated or threatened with violation by an unlawful before the BI and an Appeal before the OP. When Ku, however,
act or omission of the respondent, and how such threat or injudiciously filed a Petition and a Supplemental Petition for the
violation is committed with the attendant circumstances Issuance of a Writ of Amparo, he committed forum shopping by
detailed in supporting affidavits; seeking a remedy which he had already solicited from another
tribunal.
(d) The investigation conducted, if any, specifying the
names, personal circumstances, and addresses of the In Kiani v. BID,57 where petitioner therein file d before the trial court
investigating authority or individuals, as well as the manner a petition for a writ of habeas corpus seeking to have the detention
and conduct of the investigation, together with any report; of her husband declared as illegal and to order the latter’s release,
and where her husband filed before the Bureau of Immigration and
(e) The actions and recourses taken by the petitioner to Deportation (BID) an omnibus motion seeking to question the
determine the fate or whereabouts of the aggrieved party summary deportation order issued against him, the Court held that
and the identity of the person responsible for the threat, petitioner indulged in forum shopping.
act or omission; and
The Court clarified that under Section 8, Chapter 3, Title I, Book III of
(f) The relief prayed for. Executive Order No. 292, the power to deport aliens is vested in the
President of the Philippines, subject to the requirements of due
process. The Immigration Commissioner is vested with authority to
The petition may include a general prayer for other just and equitable deport aliens under Section 37 of the Philippine Immigration Act of
reliefs. 1940, as amended. Thus, a party aggrieved by a Deportation Order
issued by the BOC is proscribed from assailing said Order in the RTC
Ku claims that he fears for his life and feels the serious danger of even via a petition for a writ of habeas corpus . Conformably with
being detained for a long period of time without any cause, and that ruling of the Court in Domingo v. Scheer , such party may file a
he fears that the BI will fabricate criminal cases against him to hold motion for the reconsideration thereof before the BOC.58
him under detention.53
Citing Balite v. Court of Appeals,59 the Court held that there is forum
According to Ku, what he seeks to obtain in filing an amparo petition shopping when a party seeks to obtain remedies in an action in one
is the protection it will give to his person against the actions of some court, which had already been solicited, and in other courts and other
government officials who will likely take advantage of their positions proceedings in other tribunals. While a party may avail of the
and use the power of the government at their command. Ku adds remedies prescribed by the Rules of Court, such party is not free to
that the longer he stays in confinement the more he is exposed to resort to them simultaneously or at his/her pleasure or caprice. A
life-threatening situations and the further the violation of his party should not be allowed to present simultaneous remedies in two
guaranteed rights.54 different forums, for it degrades and wreaks havoc to the rule on
orderly procedure. A party must follow the sequence and hierarchical
The allegations of Ku, though, are specious. It is to be noted that the order in availing of such remedies and not resort to shortcuts in
Amparo Rule requires the parties to establish their claims by procedure or playing fast and loose with the said rules. Forum
substantial evidence.55 Other than making unfounded claims, shopping, an act of malpractice, is considered as trifling with the
however, Ku was not able to present evidence that he was exposed to courts and abusing their processes. It is improper conduct and
"life-threatening situations" while confined at the BI Detention degrades the administration of justice.
Center. On the contrary, the records show that he is afforded visitorial
rights and that he has access to his counsel. On a final note, the Court observes that Judge Gallegos knowingly
disregarded the Court’s directives as regards this case. The records
Moreover, his primary fear, which prompted him to file the amparo show that the Court’s Resolution dated 4 February 2014, wherein we
petition, was that the BI would trump up charges against him so as to issued a TRO enjoining the enforcement of the Orders dated 28 and
justify his detention. The fact remains, however, that even before his 29 January 2014 and intimated the impropriety of the amparo
arrest, deportation charges against him were already duly filed and petition, was received by the RTC on 5 February 2014.60 This should
ruled upon by the BI. have alerted Judge Gallegos to proceed with caution and restraint in
granting the privilege of the writ of amparo. And yet, despite having
knowledge of the Court’s pronouncements, Judge Gallegos
As such, it can readily be discerned that the RTC’s grant of the
proceeded to grant the said privilege.
privilege of the writ of amparo was improper in this case as Ku and
his whereabouts were never concealed, and as the alleged threats to
his life, liberty and security were unfounded and unsubstantiated. It is Also, the records show that the Court’s Resolution dated 18 March
to be emphasized that the fundamental function of the writ of 2014, wherein we issued a TRO enjoining the enforcement of the
amparo is to cause the disclosure of details concerning the Order dated 18 February 2014 and enjoining the RTC from further
extrajudicial killing or the enforced disappearance of an aggrieved proceeding with the case, was received by the RTC on 20 March 2014
party. As Ku and his whereabouts were never hidden, there was no at 9:00 a.m.61
need for the issuance of the privilege of the writ of amparo in the
case at bar. Although by then, Judge Gallegos already issued the Resolution
dated 14 March 2014 which granted the privilege of the writ of

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amparo, his receipt of the Court’s Resolution dated 18 Marc h 2014 ARTHUR BALAO, WINSTON BALAO, NONETTE BALAO, JONILYN
should have forewarned him against releasing Ku’s passport. That he BALAO-STRUGAR, and BEVERLY LONGID, Respondents. **
did so demonstrates his resistance and unwillingness to follow the
Court’s edicts. RESOLUTION

It is well to note that a resolution of the Supreme Court should not PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:
be construed as a mere request, and should be complied with
promptly and completely.1âwphi1 Such failure to comply accordingly
betrays not only a recalcitrant streak in character, but al so disrespect For the Court's resolution are the recommendations in the Final
for the Court’s lawful order and directive.62 Report1 dated January 15, 2016 submitted by the Regional Trial
Court of La Trinidad, Benguet, Branch 63 (RTC) in compliance with the
directives in the Court's Decision2 dated December 13, 2011
Judge Gallegos should know that judges must respect the orders and (December 13, 2011 Decision) in the above-captioned consolidated
decisions of higher tribunals, especially the Supreme Court from cases.
which all other courts take their bearings. A resolution of the
Supreme Court is not to be construed as a mere request nor should it
be complied with partially, inadequately or selectively.63 The Facts

In the Judiciary, moral integrity is more than a cardinal virtue, it is a The instant case arose when Jam es M. Balao (James), founding
necessity. The exacting standards of conduct demanded from judges member of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), a coalition of non-
are designed to promote public confidence in the integrity and government organizations working for the cause of indigenous
impartiality of the judiciary. When the judge himself becomes the peoples in the Cordillera Region,3 was abducted by five (5)
transgressor of the law which he is sworn to apply, he places his unidentified armed men on September 17, 2008, in front of Saymor's
office in disrepute, encourages disrespect for the law and impairs Store at Tomay, La Trinidad, Benguet.4 After efforts to find him
public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary itself.64 proved futile, James's siblings, namely: Arthur Balao, Winston Balao,
Nonette Balao, and Jonilyn Balao-Strugar, together with CPA
Chairperson Beverly Longid (CPA Chairperson Longid; collectively,
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court hereby resolves to: Balao, et al.) filed a petition for the issuance of a writ of amparo in
James's favor before the RTC, docketed as Special Proceedings No.
a) GRANT the present petitions, and REVERSE and SET 08-AMP-0001.5
ASIDE the Resolution dated 14 March 2014 of the Regional
Trial Court which granted the privilege of the Writ of The RTC Ruling
Amparo;

In a Judgment6 dated January 19, 2009, the RTC granted the privilege
b) DENY the privilege of the Writ of Amparo sought via the of the writ of amparo, thereby directing herein public officers,
Petition for the Issuance of a Writ of Amparo and the namely: then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Executive Secretary
Supplemental Petition for the Issuance of Writ of Amparo Eduardo R. Ermita, Defense Secretary Gilberto C. Teodoro, Jr., Interior
in SP. PROC.No. 14131282 before the Regional Trial of and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo V. Puno, National Security
Manila, Branch 47; and Adviser Norberto B. Gonzales, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)
Chief of Staff General Alexander B. Yano, Philippine National Police
c) DIRECT the Office of the Court Administrator to file the (PNP) Police Director General Jesus A. Verzosa, Philippine Army (PA)
appropriate administrative charge/s against Judge Paulino Chief Brigadier General Reynaldo B. Mapagu, PNP Criminal
Q. Gallegos in accordance with the tenor of this Decision, Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) Chief Lt. P/Dir.
and to forthwith submit to the Court its report and Edgardo Doromal, Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM)
recommendation thereon. SO ORDERED. Commander Major General Isagani C. Cachuela, PNP-Cordillera
Administrative Region Regional Director Police Senior Superintendent
Eugene Gabriel Martin, and several John Does (the public officers)7
EN BANC June 21, 2016 G.R. No. 186050
to: (a) disclose where James is being detained or confined; (b) release
him from his unlawful detention; and (c) cease and desist from
ARTHUR BALAO, WINSTON BALAO, NONETTE BALAO, JONILYN inflicting harm on his person. 8 The R TC held that James's unlawful
BALAO-STRUGAR, and BEVERLY LONGID, Petitioners, disappearance was due to his activist/political leanings and because
vs. EDUARDO ERMITA, GILBERTO TEODORO, RON ALDO PUNO, the CPA was seen as a front of the Communist Party of the
NORBERTO GONZALES, Gen. ALEXANDER YANO, Gen. JESUS Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA).9 The RTC further ruled
VERZOSA, Brig. Gen. REYNALDO MAPAGU, Lt. P/Dir. EDGARDO that the investigation conducted by the public officers was "very
DOROMAL, Maj. Gen. ISA GANI CACHUELA, Commanding Officer limited, superficial[,] and one-sided" which, thus, unmistakably
of the AFP-ISU based in Baguio City, PSS EUGENE MARTIN, and violated James's right to security of his person. 10 Meanwhile, the
several JOHN DOES, Respondents. RTC denied the interim reliefs that Balao, et al. prayed for - i.e., the
issuance of inspection order, production order, and witness
G.R. No. 186059 protection order - considering that they failed to comply with the
stringent provisions of The Rule on the Writ of Amparo11 (Amparo
rule) in order to grant the same. 12
SECRETARY EDUARDO ERMITA, SECRETARY GILBERTO
TEODORO, SECRETARY RONALDO PUNO, SECRETARY
NORBERTO GONZALES, GEN. ALEXANDER YANO, P/DGEN. JESUS Separately, both parties appealed to the Court. In G.R. No.186050,
VERZOSA, BRIG. GEN. REYNALDO MAPAGU, MAJ. GEN. ISAGANI Balao, et al. challenged the RTC's denial of the interim reliefs, while, in
CACHUELA, and POL. SR. SUPT. EUGENE MARTIN, Petitioners, G.R. No.186059, the public officers assailed the RTC's judgment
vs. extending the privilege of the writ of amparo. 13

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The Court's Ruling conducting surveillance on his person and to investigate their
in the December 13, 2011 Decision owners; and [iii] pursue other leads relevant to his abduction. 25

In the December 13, 2011 Decision,14 the Court reversed the grant of Within six (6) months from notice of the said Decision, the PNP and
the privilege of the writ of amparo, holding that the totality of PNP-CIDG were ordered to undertake their respective investigations,
evidence presented in these cases did not fulfill the evidentiary and within fifteen (15) days from completion, the AFP and PNP shall
standard provided for by Amparo rule so as to establish that James submit a full report of their investigations to the RTC which, in turn,
was a victim of an enforced disappearance. Citing Roxas v. shall have thirty (30) days to submit its Full Report to this Court for
Macapagal-Arroyo, 15 the Court ruled that government involvement Final Action.26
in the abduction of James could not be simply inferred based on past
incidents in which the victims also worked or were affiliated with left- Proceedings after the December 13, 2011 Decision
leaning groups. 16 To add, the Court clarified that the doctrine of
command responsibility could not be applied in amparo proceedings,
considering that pinpointing criminal culpability is not the issue In a Notice 27 dated November 28, 2013, the Court directed the
thereat, but rather, the same was conceived to determine Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the National Bureau of
responsibility or at least accountability for enforced disappearances Investigation (NBI) to conduct independent and parallel
(and extralegal killings), and to impose the appropriate remedies to investigations on the disappearance of James.
address them. 17 More importantly, the Court held that, after a
judicious review of the records, the participation of members of the In a Further Partial Compliance28 dated October 30, 2014, the RTC
AFP or PNP in the abduction of James was not sufficiently proven. It informed the Court that it scheduled a hearing on March 7, 2014 to
highlighted that no concrete evidence was presented by Balao, et al. determine, among others, the results of the investigation being
which would have satisfactorily showed that James's abductors were conducted by the Special Investigation Task Group (SITG)-Balao,29 as
connected with them. Relatedly, Balao, et al. likewise failed to present monitored by the AFPand PNP, and that of the CHR.30 Thereafter, the
adequate proof that James was being held or detained upon the PNP, through SITG-Balao Commander PSS Rodolfo S. Azurin, Jr.,
orders or with acquiescence of government agents. 18 moved to require the Military Intelligence Group 1 (MIG 1) based at
Camp Henry T. Allen, Baguio City to produce a copy of their Roster of
Notwithstanding these findings, the Court, however, concurred with Troops for calendar year 2008 in order to counter-check a name who
the RTC's observations describing the investigations made by the was traced as the last owner of the vehicle that was allegedly used in
public officers as "very limited, superficial[,] and one-sided" and, conducting surveillance against James.31 Meanwhile, the AFP,
hence, ineffective. 19 As aptly pointed out by the RTC to which the through Chief of Staff General Emmanuel T. Bautista, filed a
Court agreed, there was a seeming prejudice on the part of the public manifestation and compliance, confirming the reports of SITG-Balao
officers to pin suspects who were not connected with the that the owner of the Mitsubishi Versa L-300 Van with plate number
government, 20 further noting that they did not discharge the USC-92232 was an active service officer of the Philippine Army
burden of exercising extraordinary diligence in investigating James's identified as Major Ferdinand Bruce M. Tokong (Maj. Tokong). 33
abduction, considering their abject failure to pursue critical leads in: After granting PNP's motion, and upon submission of the Roster of
(a) ascertaining the identities of James's abductors using the Troops, it was, however, revealed that Maj. Tokong's name was not in
cartographic sketches described by the witnesses; and (b) tracing the the list. 34 Separately, the CHR filed an Investigation Report35
plate numbers of vehicles that were allegedly used in conducting praying for the issuance of an order directing a certain Brian Gonzales
surveillance which were previously reported by James to his family (Gonzales) - who Balao, et al. claimed to be an asset of MIG 1 and,
and to the CPA.21 incidentally, was also their cousin - to appear before the RTC,
considering that he was repeatedly mentioned in James's journal
entries.36 Consequently, the next hearing date was scheduled on
In order to safeguard the constitutional right to liberty and security of February 20, 2015.37
James who remained missing to date, the Court found it apt to
remand the case to the RTC so as to monitor and ensure that the
investigative efforts by the public officers would be discharged with In a Compliance by Way of Additional Partial Updates38 dated March
extraordinary diligence, as required under Section 1722 of the 20, 2015, the RTC notified the Court that the PNP had submitted its
Amparo rule. For this purpose, the RTC may conduct hearings, as it Formal Report,39 recommending the termination of investigation of
may deem necessary, to validate the results of the investigation. 23 the SITG-Balao without prejudice to the continuation of the
Lastly, anent the petition in G.R. No. 186050, the Court upheld the R investigation by the local police unit concemed.40 The PNP reported
TC ruling denying the interim reliefs prayed for by Balao, et al., that they traced the vehicles (that were purportedly used for
holding that the issuance of inspection and production orders could surveillance) to their respective owners; however, their investigations
not be based on insufficient claims, lest it would have sanctioned a did not yield any significant breakthrough.41 The RTC, then,
"fishing expedition. "24 summarized the updates of each party during the February 20, 2015
hearing: (a) the PNP manifested that it did not receive any
information about the case after the submission of its report; (b) the
In light of the foregoing, the Court partly modified the RTC ruling, as AFPmentioned that, aside from comparing the cartographic sketches
follows: (a) reversing the grant of the privilege of the writ of amparo; of the suspects with all their
(b) affirming the denial of the prayer for inspection and production
order, without prejudice to the subsequent grant thereof, as it may
be deemed necessary; and (c) ordering the incumbent Chief of Staff personnel, 42 it was also investigating the possible involvement of
of the AFP and Director General of the PNP to continue and pursue Maj. Tokong, and undertook to submit the results thereof to the RTC
with extraordinary diligence - as required under Section 17 of the after its declassification, and for this, it asked for a period of fifteen
Amparo rule - the investigation of James's abduction, and specifically (15) days to submit the same; (c) the CHR revealed that it sent
to take the necessary steps to: [i] identify the persons described in summons to Gonzales which were, however, repeatedly ignored, and
the cartographic sketches; [ii] locate the vehicles bearing the plate thus, prayed for the issuance of a subpoena on his person; and (d)
numbers provided by Balao, et al. and which James had reported as Balao, et al. confirmed that Gonzales was James' s first cousin and
were confounded why he was not investigated beforehand,

TrinaFaye SPECPRO Review Page 36


considering that he was a member of the PNP intelligence group and The Issue Before the Court
they already provided his name as early as 2008.43
The main issue for resolution is whether or not the Court should
Moreover, the PNP manifested that they encountered problems in adopt the recommendations of the RTC in the Final Report dated
gathering evidence and in pursuing a possible lead because of the January 15, 2016.
continuous refusal of Balao, et al. to present certain personalities
identified as "Uncle John" and "Rene," alleged housemates and last The Court's Ruling
companions of James.44 To know their identities, the PNP stated that
CPA Chairperson Longid should be compelled to appear before the
RTC. 45 Before the conclusion of the hearing, the AFP made a The recommendations in the Final Report dated January 15, 2016 are
commitment to submit its investigation about Maj. Tokong's partly adopted.
involvement. Accordingly, the RTC set the next hearing on September
4, 2015 to allow the declassification of some documents, as well as to At the outset, the Court observes that exhaustive efforts and
give all parties additional time to complete their respective extraordinary diligence were exercised by the PNP, AFP, and CHR in
investigations. 46 investigating the abduction of James, pursuant to the parameters laid
down in the December 13, 2011 Decision. On the part of the APP, the
In a Final Report47 dated January 15, 2016, the RTC discussed the Court notes its active participation in the RTC proceedings, and as
contents of the confidential AFP Report48 concluding that Maj. gleaned from the AFPReport, it investigated the possible involvement
Tokong had no involvement in the abduction of James. 49 The AFP of Maj. Tokong, but who was subsequently cleared from any
Report mentioned that while it was true that Maj. Tokong went to participation in James's abduction for lack of evidence.55 The APP
Baguio for his rest and recreation sometime in September 2008 - likewise stated that it compared the results of the cartographic
which was approved by Colonel Lyndon V. Paniza - it would be sketches with their personnel, 56 but still, did not yield any significant
contrary to the experience of man if he would use his own personal developments.
vehicle to conduct surveillance on James as this would, in effect,
expose him. Had Maj. Tokong indeed conducted surveillance On the part of the PNP, records show that it keenly investigated the
operations, he would have, at the very least, used another vehicle to ownership of the vehicles that were reportedly used for surveillance
avoid liability. By using his personal vehicle, this only strengthened on James.1âwphi1 According to its Formal Report, the SITG-Balao
Maj. Tokong's good faith and intention that he went to Baguio for his traced the vehicles ownership history, as well as the activities and
personal vacation. 50 trips of the vehicle on the day of James's abduction, but found no
considerable leads.57 It must, however, be stressed that the angle
The RTC, thereafter, highlighted the contents of Gonzales's testimony, raised by Gonzales in his testimony - i.e., that James could have been
stating that: (a) he was not an asset of the AFP or NBI; (b) James possibly abducted by CPA members - presented a significant
feared that he was being followed by unknown persons, and he never development that is worth investigating. It was reported that James
mentioned of any vehicle tailing him, as those plate numbers were had housemates living with him who were only identified as "Uncle
only given by CPA Chairperson Longid; (c) acting on the request of John" and "Rene," allegedly members of the CPA. 58 Notably, the
James to check if the latter was included in the order of battle or PNP previously tried to investigate these persons-of-interest, but
watch list, Gonzales called his bilas (sister-in-law's husband) in the lamented the continuous refusal of Balao, et al., particularly CPA
AFP Intelligence Service Unit and friends in the PNP who both said Chairperson Longid, to disclose their identities. This notwithstanding,
that James was not in the list; (d) he denied sending text messages to Gonzales, however, manifested that he could identify these
James except their exchanges on July 13, 2008; (e) James appeared to individuals. 59
have wanted to leave the CPA, considering that he was inquiring on
how to obtain a visa to go to Japan; and (f) he suspected the Under Section 20 of the Amparo rule, the court is mandated to
colleagues of James in the CPA as his abductors, considering that archive, and not dismiss, the case should it determine that it could
they were the only persons - i.e., such as his housemates - who knew not proceed for a valid cause, viz. :
or had
Section 20. Archiving and Revival of Cases. - The court shall not
information of his schedule, activities, or whereabouts, and more dismiss the petition, but shall archive it, if upon its
importantly, the CPA had been dictating what his cousins should say determination it cannot proceed for a valid cause such as the
or do, and had prevented them from communicating with him. 51 failure of petitioner or witnesses to appear due to threats on their
lives.
The RTC opined that the investigation of James's abduction had
reached an impasse, 52 thereby recommending that these cases be A periodic review of the archived cases shall be made by the amparo
archived, considering that the investigation of the AFP had reached a court that shall, motu proprio or upon motion by any party, order
standstill with its conclusion that Maj. Tokong did not conduct their revival when ready for further proceedings. The petition shall be
surveillance operations on James, and that the testimony of Gonzales dismissed with prejudice upon failure to prosecute the case after the
presented a new angle in the abduction that must be further verified. lapse of two (2) years from notice to the petitioner of the order
53 In light of the foregoing, the RTC respectfully recommended for archiving the case.
the Court to: (a) archive the instant case; (b) relieve the AFP and CHR
of their respective obligations to investigate the abduction of James; The clerks of court shall submit to the Office of the Court
and (c) direct the PNP to continue the investigation by further Administrator a consolidated list of archived cases under this Rule
pursuing the angle raised by Gonzales who had also expressed his not later than the first week of January of every year.1âwphi1
willingness to cooperate in identifying the housemates of James (who (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
are also possible leads and persons-of-interest). In this relation, the
RTC noted that while archived, these cases may still be re-opened by
Jurisprudence states that archiving of cases is a procedural measure
any interested party should new evidence arise. 54
designed to temporarily defer the hearing of cases in which no

TrinaFaye SPECPRO Review Page 37


immediate action is expected, but where no grounds exist for their release of Danielle Tan Parker from the Immigration Detention
outright dismissal. Under this scheme, an inactive case is kept alive Facility, Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig City.
but held in abeyance until the situation obtains in which action
thereon can be taken.60To be sure, the Amparo rule sanctions the The Facts
archiving of cases, provided that it is impelled by a valid cause, such
as when the witnesses fail to appear due to threats on their lives or to
similar analogous causes that would prevent the court from Danielle Tan Parker (Parker) is a holder of Philippine Passport No.
effectively hearing and conducting the amparo proceedings which, XX5678508 issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on 5
however, do not obtain in these cases. March 2010 and valid until 4 March 2015.

Here, while it may appear that the investigation conducted by the On 15 January 2013, Parker was charged for deportation for being an
AFP reached an impasse, it must be pointed out that there was still an undesirable, undocumented, and overstaying alien, in violation of
active lead worth pursuing by the PNP. Thus, the investigation had Section 3 7 (a)(7) of the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940, as
not reached a dead-end - which would have warranted the case's amended, in relation to Rule XVI, Office Memorandum No. ADD-01-
archiving - because the testimony of Gonzales set forth an immediate 004. It was alleged that Danielle Nopuente was a fugitive from justice
action on the part of the PNP which could possibly solve, or uncover in the United States of America with an outstanding arrest warrant
new leads, in the ongoing investigation of James's abduction. issued against her. Subsequently, on 24 January 2013, a Summary
Therefore, the RTC's recommendation that these cases should be Deportation Order (SDO) was issued against Danielle Nopuente, also
archived is clearly premature, and hence, must be rejected. known as Isabelita Nopuente and Danielle Tan Parker, upon
verification that she arrived in the Philippines on 23 March 2011
under the Balikbayan Program, with an authorized stay of a period of
WHEREFORE, the recommendations of the Regional Trial Court of La one year. Parker was not in the list of approved applications of the
Trinidad, Benguet, Branch 63 (RTC) in the Final Report dated January DFA for dual citizenship and her American Passport had been
15, 2016 are PARTLY ADOPTED. Accordingly, the Court hereby revoked by the United States Department of State. Thus, she was
resolved to: considered an undocumented, undesirable, and overstaying alien, in
violation of the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940.
(a) REJECT the recommendation of the RTC to archive
these cases; On 5 June 2014, pursuant to the SDO issued by the Bureau of
Immigration, Parker was arrested in Tagaytay City on the premise that
(b) RELIEVE the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Danielle Nopuente and Danielle Tan Parker are one and the same
Commission on Human Rights from their respective person. She was then taken to the Immigration Detention Facility in
obligations to investigate the abduction of James Balao; Bicutan, Taguig City. She is still currently detained in the Immigration
and Detention Facility as the deportation was not carried out due to the
fact that Parker is charged with falsification and use of falsified
(c) DIRECT the Philippine National Police (PNP) to further documents before Branch 4, Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Davao
investigate the angle presented by Bryan Gonzales and to City.
ascertain the identities of "Uncle John" and "Rene" who are
persons-of-interest in these cases. On 12 September 2014, Parker, as petitioner, filed a Petition for
Habeas Corpus before Branch 266, Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasig
The PNP is given six (6) months from notice hereof to complete its City. The Bureau of Immigration was able to produce the body of
investigation. Within fifteen (15) days from completion, the PNP shall Parker before the RTC. The Bureau of Immigration then alleged that
submit the results thereof to the RTC. Within thirty (30) days as the SDO had become final and executory, it served as the legal
thereafter, the RTC shall submit its full report and recommendation to authority to detain Parker. The Bureau of Immigration also argued
the Court for final action. SO ORDERED. that Parker cannot be released or deported without the final
disposition of her pending criminal case in Davao City.

EN BANC September 19, 2017 G.R. No. 230324


The RTC dismissed the petition, finding that the detention of Parker
was legal.1 Parker then appealed the case to the Court of Appeals
LORIE MARIE TOMAS CALLO, Petitioner (CA). The CA affirmed the RTC and found that Parker failed to prove
vs. COMMISSIONER JAIME H. MORENTE, BUREAUS OF that she was a Filipino citizen to warrant judicial intervention through
IMMIGRATION, OIC ASSOCIATES COMMISSIONERS BUREAU OF habeas corpus.2 The CA gave weight to the Certification dated 20
IMMIGRATION and BRIAN ALAS, BUREAU OF IMMIGRATION , June 2015 issued by the Office of the Consular Affairs of the DFA that
Respondents there is "no available data" regarding any record/information from
the year 1990 onwards of Philippine Passport No. :XX5678508. Parker
DECISION no longer appealed the denial of the issuance of the writ of habeas
corpus and the decision of the CA became final and executory on 5
January 2016.3
CARPIO, Acting C.J.:

On 23 March 2017, Callo filed this petition for a writ of amparo with
The Case
prayer to issue Interim Reliefs of Immediate Release of Danielle Tan
Parker from Detention. Callo argues that Parker is a natural-born
This is a petition for a writ of amparo (with Prayer to Issue Interim Filipino citizen and thus, there is no reason for her to be detained by
Reliefs of Immediate Release of Danielle Tan Parker from Detention) the Bureau of Immigration.
under A.M. No. 07-9-12-SC (The Rule on the Writ of Amparo).
Petitioner Lorie Marie Tomas Callo (Callo) seeks the immediate
The Issue

TrinaFaye SPECPRO Review Page 38


The only issue in this case is whether or not the right to life, liberty, In Navia v. Pardico,7 this Court clarified that with the enactment of
and security of Parker is threatened by the respondents to warrant RANo. 9851, the Rule on the Writ of Amparo is now a procedural law
the issuance of the writ of amparo and subsequently the award of the anchored, not only on the constitutional right to life, liberty, and
interim reliefs. security, but also on a concrete statutory definition of "enforced or
involuntary disappearance." Further, elements constituting enforced
The Ruling of the Court disappearance as defined under RA No. 9851 were clearly laid down
by this Court, viz:

The petition has no merit.


(a) that there be an arrest, detention, abduction or any form of
deprivation of liberty; ·
Callo seeks the issuance of the writ of amparo and the interim reliefs
available under A.M. No. 07-9-12-SC for the immediate release of
Parker. Callo alleges that Parker is a natural-born Filipino citizen and (b) that it be carried out by, or with the authorization, support or
thus should not have been detained by the Bureau of Immigration. acquiescence of, the State or a political organization;
Moreover, Callo alleges that the kife of Parker is endangered in the
detention center; and thus a writ of amparo with the interim reliefs (c) that it be followed by the State or political organization's refusal
prayed for should be issued by this Court. to acknowledge or give information on the fate or whereabouts of
the person subject of the amparo petition; and,
We disagree.
(d) that the intention for such refusal is to remove subject person
We disagree. from the protection of the law for a prolonged period oftime.8

The protective writ of amparo is a judicial remedy to expeditiously It is clear that the elements of enforced disappearance are not
provide relief to violations of a person's constitutional right to life, attendant in this case. There is also no threat of such enforced
liberty, and security, and more specifically, to address the problem of disappearance.1âwphi1 While there is indeed a detention carried out
extralegal killings and enforced disappearances or threats thereof. by the State through the Bureau of Immigration, the third and fourth
Section 1 of A.M. No. 07-9-12-SC provides: elements are not present. There is no refusal to acknowledge the
deprivation of freedom or refusal to give information on the
whereabouts of Parker because as Callo admits, Parker is detained in
Sec. 1. Petition. - The petition for a writ of amparo is a remedy the Immigration Detention Facility of the Bureau of Immigration. The
available to any person whose right to life, liberty and security is Bureau of Immigration also does not deny this. In fact, the Bureau of
violated or threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omission Immigration had produced the body of Parker before the RTC in the
of a public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity. proceedings for the writ of habeas corpus previously initiated by
Parker herself.9 Similarly, there is no intention to remove Parker from
The writ shall cover extralegal killings and enforced the protection of the law for a prolonged period of time. As the
disappearances or threats thereof. (Emphasis Bureau of Immigration explained, Parker has a pending criminal case
against her in Davao City, which prevents the Bureau of Immigration
supplied) from deporting her from the country.

It is clear from the above-quoted provision that the writ of amparo Simply put, we see no enforced or involuntary disappearance, or any
covers extralegal killings and enforced disappearances or threats threats thereof, that would warrant the issuance of the writ of
thereof4 Enforced disappearance is defmed under Republic Act (RA) amparo. For the issuance of the writ, it is not sufficient that a person's
No. 9851,5 Section 3(g) of which provides: life is endangered. It is even not sufficient to allege and prove that a
person has disappeared. It has to be shown by the required quantum
of proof that the disappearance was carried out by, or with the
(g) "Enforced or involuntary disappearance of persons" means the
authorization, support or acquiescence of the government or a
arrest, detention, or abduction of persons by, or with the
political organization, and that there is a refusal to acknowledge the
authorization, support or acquiescence of a State or a political
same or to give information on the fate or whereabouts of the
organization followed by a refusal to acknowledge that deprivation of
missing persons.10 In this case, Parker has not disappeared. Her
freedom or to give information on the fate or whereabouts of those
detention has been sufficiently justified by the Bureau of
persons, with the intention of removing from the protection of the
Immigration, given that there is an SDO and a pending criminal case
law for a prolonged period of time.
against her.

This Court also had the opportunity to define extralegal killings and
Callo contends that there is no cause to detain Parker because Parker,
enforced disappearance:
a natural-born Filipino citizen, is a different person from Danielle
Nopuente, the person against whom the SDO was issued.
Extralegal killings are killings committed without due process of law,
i.e., without legal safeguards or judicial proceedings. On the other
We disagree.
hand, enforced disappearance has been defined by the Court as the
arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of
liberty by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons Callo has failed to prove that Danielle Tan Parker and Danielle
acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, Nopuente are two different persons. In particular, we give weight to
followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by the fact that the DFA issued a certificate verifying that there is no
concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, available data on Passport No. XX5678508, which was the Philippine
which place such a person outside the protection of the law.6 passport used by Parker.11 Moreover, the Certificate of Live Birth,12
which purportedly shows that Parker was born in the Philippines on

TrinaFaye SPECPRO Review Page 39


21 March 1975 of Filipino parents, was only registered on 4 January raised therein for, in a habeas corpus proceeding, any person may
2010. There was no explanation given as to why Parker's birth was apply for the writ on behalf of the aggrieved party.
registered only after almost 35 years. Moreover, Callo only alleges
facts from the year 2005, allegedly for purposes of brevity.13 We do It is thus only with respect to the amparo petition that the parents of
not see any reason why facts surrounding the existence of Parker Sherlyn and Karen are precluded from filing the application on
should only be presented from 2005. In fact, the only period that is Merino's behalf as they are not authorized parties under the Rule.
thoroughly discussed about her is from 2010 to 2011. To prove that (Emphasis supplied)
Parker and Nopuente are two different persons, the life and existence
of Parker should have been alleged and proven since birth. In this
case, there is no allegation nor any proof as to who Parker was, or Thus, while "any person" may file a petition for the writ of habeas
what she had been doing, before 2011. Taking all these corpus, in a petition for the writ of amparo, the order of priority on
circumstances into perspective, Parker had failed to sufficiently prove who can file the petition should be strictly followed. In this case, there
that she is a different person from Danielle Nopuente. was no allegation nor proof that Parker had no immediate family
members or any ascendant, descendant, or collateral relative within
the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity. In fact, no
Callo contends that Parker's life is endangered in the Immigration I allegation was made on any of the familial relationship of Parker as
Detention Facility because of the threats against her by her co- only her whereabouts from 2011 were alleged and discussed.
detainees and the living conditions of the facility which pose health Therefore, based on the order of priority, Callo had no legal standing
problems for Parker. Unfortunately, these allegations - even if proven to file this petition.
- will not support the issuance of a writ of amparo. To repeat, the
remedy of a writ of amparo is an extraordinary remedy that is meant
to balance the government's awesome power and to curtail human Given that there is no basis for the issuance of the writ of amparo, the
rights abuses.14 The writ .covers extralegal killings and enforced interim reliefs sought for are also denied. Moreover, we see no need
disappearances or threats thereo1 f as specifically defined under RA to address the other issues raised by Callo in this petition, specifically,
No. 9851. The circumstances of Parker, as alleged by Callo, do not the condition of the Immigration Detention Facility and the treatment
meet the requirements for the issuance of the kit of amparo. of Parker in said detention center. A petition for the writ of amparo is
not the proper action to resolve such issues.

Finally, we note that the petition for the writ of amparo was filed by
Callo. However, there was no allegation of her relationship to WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED. SO ORDERED.
Parker.15 In Boac v. Cadapan,16 we emphasized the importance of
the exclusive and successive order of who can file a petition for a writ EN BANC February 7, 2017 G.R. No. 191416
of amparo. We held:
MAYOR WILLIAM N. MAMBA, ATTY. FRANCISCO N. MAMBA,
Petitioners finally point out that the parents of Sherlyn and Karen do JR., ARIEL MALANA, NARDING AGGANGAN, JOMARI SAGALON,
not have the requisite standing to file the amparo petition on behalf JUN CINABRE, FREDERICK BALIGOD, ROMMEL ENCOLLADO,
of Merino. They call attention to the fact that in the amparo petition, JOSEPH TUMALIUAN, and RANDY DAYAG, Petitioners
the parents of Sherlyn and Karen merely indicated that they were vs.
"concerned with Manuel Merino" as basis for filing the petition on his LEOMAR BUENO, Respondent
behalf.
DECISION
Section 2 of the Rule on the Writ of Amparo provides:
REYES, J.:
The petition may be filed by the aggrieved party or by any qualified
person or entity in the following order:
This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari1 filed in relation to Section
19 of A.M. No. 07-9-12-SC,2 seeking to annul and set aside the
(a) Any member of the immediate family, namely: the spouse, Decision3 dated January 18, 2010 and Resolution4 dated March 2,
children and parents of the aggrieved party; (b) Any ascendant, 2010 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP. No. 00038, which
descendant or collateral relative of the aggrieved party within the granted the petition for the issuance of a writ of amparo filed by
fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity, in default of those Leomar Bueno (respondent) against Mayor William N. Mamba (Mayor
mentioned in the preceding paragraph; or Mamba), Atty. Francisco N. Mamba, Jr. (Atty. Mamba), Ariel Malana
(Malana), Narding Aggangan (Aggangan), Jomari Sagalon (Sagalon),
(c) Any concerned citizen, organization, association or institution, if Jun Cinabre (Cinabre), Frederick Baligod (Baligod), Rommel Encollado
there is no known member of the immediate family or relative of the (Encollado ), Joseph Tumaliuan (Tumaliuan), and Randy Dayag
aggrieved party.1âwphi1 (Dayag) (collectively, the petitioners).

Indeed, the parents of Sherlyn and Karen failed to allege that there The Facts
were no known members of the immediate family or relatives of
Merino. The exclusive and successive order mandated by the above- On June 13, 2009, the canteen owned by Emelita N. Mamba (Emelita)
quoted provision must be followed. The order of priority is not in Tuao, Cagayan was robbed. Emelita is the mother of Mayor
without reason - "to prevent the indiscriminate and groundless Mamba, then Mayor of the Municipality of Tuao, Cagayan and Atty.
filing of petitions for amparo which may even prejudice the right Mamba, then a Malacafiang official.5 The Task Force Lingkod Bayan
to life, liberty or security of the aggrieved party." (Task Force), an agency created by the Sangguniang Bayan of Tuao to
help the local police force in maintaining peace and order in the
The Court notes that the parents of Sherlyn and Karen also filed the municipality, undertook an investigation on the robbery.6
petition for habeas corpus on Merino's behalf. No objection was

TrinaFaye SPECPRO Review Page 40


On June 14, 2009, several members of the Task Force, Malana, At around 3:00 p.m. of June 14, 2009, Tumaliuan and Dayag, both
Aggangan and Sagalon, together with barangay officials Cinabre and members of the Task Force, upon the order of Baligod, then
Encollado, went to the. house of the respondent, then still a minor, to Municipal Administrator of Tuao, fetched the respondent from the
invite him for questioning on his supposed involvement in the police station and brought .him to Mayor Mamba's house.15
robbery. The respondent and his mother, Maritess Bueno (Maritess ), Sometime in the evening of even date, the respondent was made to
acceded to the invitation. Thereupon, the respondent was brought to board a white van driven by Aggangan. Inside the van, he was beaten
the Tuao police station.7 with a gun by Malana, who later threatened him that he would be
killed. Thereafter, he was brought back to Mayor Mamba's house.16
The parties gave different accounts of what happened after the
respondent was brought to the Tuao police station. That same evening, Haber, likewise a minor, was invited by the
barangay captain in his place, accompanied by about 10 barangay
The petitioners claim that: tanods and two police officers, for questioning as regards the robbery
of the canteen. Haber was brought to the police station where he
spent the night.17
When they reached the Tuao police station, there were no police
investigators or any representative from the local Social Welfare and
Development (SWD) office and, hence, the investigation could not On June 15, 2009, Haber was brought to Mayor Mamba's house. The
proceed. At that time, Raymund Rodriguez (Raymund), allegedly an respondent and Haber were then tortured to force them to admit to
eyewitness to the robbery, was at the police station. Raymund their involvement in the robbery. They were made to roll on the grass
pointed to the respondent as among those who robbed the store; while being kicked and beaten with a cue stick by Malana; hot wax
the respondent then told Raymund that he would kill him for ratting was poured over their bodies to force them to admit to the robbery,
him out.8 The petitioners allege that prior to the robbery of the but they denied any involvement therein. Thereafter, they were
canteen, the respondent approached Raymund and his brother Robin blindfolded and were questioned by Atty. Mamba regarding the
and proposed to them that they rob the canteen. The latter, however, robbery of the canteen. When his blindfold was taken off, the
declined the offer. Later that night, Raymund saw the respondent and respondent saw Atty. Mamba sitting nearby.18 On June 16, 2009,
Lorenzo Haber (Haber) robbing the canteen. Thereafter, Robin Malana brought the respondent and Haber, together with Robin and
reported the incident to the Task Force.9 Raymund, to the office of the Task Force, where they all spent the
night.19

The petitioners further claim that at the time of the robbery, Mayor
Mamba and Atty. Mamba were not around since they previously left Meanwhile, Maritess went to the Tuao police station to look for her
Tuao, Cagayan for Manila on June 10, 2009. Mayor Mamba was on son; she was told that the respondent was brought to Mayor
official leave for 10 days, from June 10, 2009 until June 20, 2009, Mamba's house. However, when Maritess went to Mayor Mamba's
while Atty. Mamba had to report for work in Malacañang.10 house, she was not permitted to see her son. Maritess was able to
talk to Mayor Mamba who told her that she should not condone the
acts of her son. Maritess then sought the assistance of P/Supt.
The respondent's custody was then referred to the Task Force. Haber Buenaobra regarding the respondent's disappearance from the police
was later invited to the police station for questioning regarding his station. The PNP Cagayan Regional Office was then preparing a case
involvement in the robbery. However, his custody was likewise for habeas corpus when the respondent was released on June 18,
referred to the Task Force since there were still no police 2009 to the local SWD office.20
investigators.11

Maritess then sought the assistance of the Regional Office of the


On June 17, 2009, Atty. Mamba arrived in Tuao, Cagayan. While Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in Cagayan as regards the case
going out of his residence, Maritess approached Atty. Mamba and of the respondent.21 On August 25, 2009, the respondent, assisted
asked him about her son. Atty. Mamba told her that he does not by the CHR, filed a Petition for the Issuance of a Writ of Amparo with
know her son and that if the respondent indeed committed a crime, the CA.22
she should not tolerate what her son was doing.12

On September 14, 2009, the CA, gave due course to the petition and
On June 18, 2009, while the members of the Task Force were on their directed the issuance of the writ of amparo. On September 23, 2009,
way to bring the respondent and Haber to the police station, they the petitioners filed their verified return.23
were met by Police Superintendent Joselito Buenaobra (P/Supt.
Buenaobra) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Cagayan Regional
Office. Thereafter, the respondent's custody was transferred to the A summary hearing was thereafter conducted by the CA. The
PNP Cagayan Regional Office.13 respondent presented in evidence his own testimony and the
testimonies of Dr. Odessa B. Tiangco (Dr. Tiangco) of the Cagayan
Valley Medical Center, provindal social welfare officer Elvira Layus
Maritess then went to the office of Mayor Mamba, but she was told (Layus), and Maritess.24 The petitioners, on the other hand,
to come back at later date since Mayor Mamba was still on official presented the testimony of Cinabre, Encollado, Baligod, and Robin.25
leave. When Mayor Mamba arrived in Tuao on June 20, 2009, a
conference was immediately held. Maritess requested that the
members of the Task Force be brought to Mayor Mamba's office. The CA further issued subpoena duces tecum ad testificandum to and
Almost all of the members of the Task Force arrived. However, heard the testimony of P/Supt. Buenaobra.26
Maritess was unable to pinpoint who among them took custody of
his son. Mayor Mamba then advised her to file a complaint in court On January 18, 2010, the CA rendered the herein assailed Decision,27
should she be able to identify the responsible persons.14 the decretal portion of which reads:

On the other hand, the respondent alleges that: WHEREFORE, the Petition for a Writ of Amparo filed by [the
respondent] is hereby GRANTED. Accordingly:

TrinaFaye SPECPRO Review Page 41


1. [The petitioners] are hereby enjoined from doing any act of not fall within the purview of Section 5 of Rule 113 of the Rules of
physical or psychological violence that would harm or threaten [the Court.31
respondent] and his family, including those who assisted him in the
preparation of this present petition, especially the [CHR], Regional Further, the CA ruled that although the respondent was subsequently
Office No. 02, Cagayan and his witnesses; released and that he failed to establish that there is an impending
danger of physical harm to him or his family, the refusal of the
2. The Head of the PNP Regional Office of Cagayan, whoever is the respondent officials of the local government of Tuao, especially
incumbent, is hereby ordered to continue the investigation on the Mayor Mamba, to admit and address the irregularities committed by
violation done against [the respondent], and using extraordinary the members of the Task Force is tantamount to a continuing
diligence, to furnish this Court with a report regarding the said violation of the respondent's right to security.32
investigation. The investigation must be commenced as soon as
possible but not more than 30 days from the receipt of this Decision. The petitioners sought a reconsideration33 of the Decision dated
January 18, 2010, but it was denied by the CA in its Resolution34
3. [Mayor Mamba] is hereby ordered to provide assistance to the dated March 2, 2010.
above PNP investigation including but not limited to the act of
furnishing and/or providing the latter a list of the members of the Hence, this petition.
Task Force who had direct involvement in the violation of [the
respondent's] rights to life, liberty and security, including their
identities and whereabouts, and to allow the investigation to run its The petitioners claim that the CA erred in issuing the writ of amparo
course unhindered or influenced. He is further ordered to update and in favor of the respondent. They insist that the respondent, who was
furnish this Court of the actions he has done or will be doing then the suspect in the robbery of the canteen, was not illegally
regarding this directive. detained or tortured; that the members of the Task Force merely
invited him for questioning as to his involvement in the robbery.35
They allege that the petition for the issuance of a writ of amparo is
4. The Head of the PNP Regional Office of Cagayan and [Mayor not the proper remedy available to the respondent since the present
Mamba] are ordered to update this Court regarding their reportorial laws provide ample recourse to him for the alleged threats to his life,
duty under this Decision within ten (10) days from the liberty and security. They also maintain that the respondent's rights
commencement of the investigation, and thereafter, to make a to life, liberty and security are not under threat since he and his
quarterly report regarding the said investigation. The investigation mother stated that they are not afraid of the petitioners.36
should be completed within one year from the receipt of this
Decision;
The petitioners further aver that it was improper for the CA to direct
the PNP Cagayan Regional Office to conduct further investigation on
5. All findings resulting from the said investigation should be made the incident since P/Supt. Buenaobra had already testified for the
available to [the respondent] and his counsel should they consider respondent during the summary hearing conducted by the CA.37
the same necessary to aid them in the filing of appropriate actions, They also maintain that Mayor Mamba and Atty. Mamba had nothing
criminal or otherwise, against those who are responsible for the to do with the alleged violation of the rights of the respondent since
violation of the former's rights. they were not in Tuao at the time of the incident. That when Mayor
Mamba returned to Tuao, he immediately met Maritess to discuss the
Failure to comply with the above will render the Head of the PNP incident, but the latter failed to identify the persons involved in the
Regional Office of Cagayan and [Mayor Mamba] liable for contempt incident.38
of this Court.
On the other hand, the respondent claims that this petition was filed
The Clerk of Court is hereby ordered to also furnish the Head of the beyond the reglementary period. He claims that under Section 19 of
PNP Regional Office of Cagayan a copy of this Decision. A.M. No. 07-9-12-SC, an appeal from the final judgment or order
must be filed with this Court within five working days from notice of
SO ORDERED.28 the adverse judgment. The respondent avers that the petitioners,
instead of immediately filing a petition for review on certiorari with
this Court, opted to file a motion for reconsideration with the CA,
The CA opined that the respondent's rights to liberty and security which is a prohibited pleading since it is dilatory.39
were undeniably undermined when he was invited by the members
of the Task Force for investigation and was brought to Mayor
Mamba's house from the Tuao police station.29 It further pointed out The respondent further maintains that the CA did not err when it
that notwithstanding that Mayor Mamba was not in Tuao when the directed the issuance of a writ of amparo in his favor. He claims that
incident happened, he is still accountable since he· failed to show the writ of amparo is an appropriate remedy in his case since it
sufficient action to protect the respondent's rights; that Mayor covers enforced disappearances; that his illegal warrantless arrest is
Mamba failed to acknowledge the irregularity of the acts of the covered by the term "enforced disappearances."40
members of the Task Force or to identify those who were responsible
for the violation of the respondent's rights. The CA further ruled that Issues
it was incumbent upon Atty. Mamba, being a public servant, to
ensure that the respondent's constitutional rights are not violated.30 Essentially, the issues for the Court's consideration are the following:
first, whether the petition for review on certiorari before the Court
The CA pointed out that the "invitation" extended to the respondent was filed within the reglementary period; and second, whether the CA
by the members of the Task Force was in the nature of an arrest as erred in granting the petition for the issuance of a writ of amparo.
the real purpose of the same was to make him answer to the heist
committed the night before. The CA ruled that the same amounted Ruling of the Court
to an invalid warrantless arrest since the circumstances of the case do

TrinaFaye SPECPRO Review Page 42


The petition is devoid of merit. reconsideration of a final judgment or order in such case, obviously,
no longer affects the proceedings.
First Issue: Timeliness of the petition
Moreover, the Rules of Court applies suppletorily to A.M. No. 07-9-
The petition for review on certiorari before the Court, which assails 12- SC insofar as it is not inconsistent with the latter.41 Accordingly,
the CA's grant of the writ of amparo, contrary to the respondent's there being no express prohibition to the contrary, the rules on
assertion, was filed on time. Section 19 of A.M. No. 07-9-12-SC motions for reconsideration under the Rules of Court apply
provides that: suppletorily to the Rule on the Writ of Amparo.

Sec. 19. Appeal. - Any party may appeal from the final judgment or Nevertheless, considering that under Section 19 of A.M. No. 07-9-12-
order to the Supreme Court under Rule 45. The appeal may raise SC a party is only given five working days from the date of notice of
question of fact or law or both. the adverse judgment within which to appeal to this Court through a
petition· for review on certiorari, a motion for reconsideration of a
final judgment or order must likewise be filed within the same period.
The period of appeal shall be five (5) working days from the date of Thereafter, from the order denying or granting the motion for
notice of the adverse judgment.1âwphi1 reconsideration, the party concerned may file an appeal to the Court
via a Rule 45 petition within five working days from notice of the
The appeal shall be given the same priority as in habeas corpus cases. order pursuant to the fresh period rule.42

There is nothing in A.M. No. 07-9-12-SC which proscribes the filing of The petitioners received a copy of the CA's Decision dated January
a motion for reconsideration of the final judgment or order that 18, 2010 on January 20, 2010.43 They, thus, have until January 27,
grants or denies a writ of amparo. Section 11 of A.M. No. 07-9-12-SC 2010 to either file a motion for reconsideration with the CA or an
only prohibits the following pleadings and motions: appeal to this Court through a Rule 45 petition.44 On January 25,
2010, the petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration with the
Sec. 11. Prohibited Pleadings and Motions. - The following pleadings CA.45 The CA denied the petitioners' motion for reconsideration in its
and motions are prohibited: Resolution dated March 2, 2010, a copy of which was received by the
petitioners' counsel on March 8, 2010.46 Thus, the petitioners had
until March 15, 2010 within which to appeal to this Court.47 The
a. Motion to dismiss;
petitioners filed this petition for review on certiorari on March 12,
2010.48 Thus, contrary to the respondent's claim, this petition was
b. Motion for extension of time to file return, opposition, affidavit, filed within the reglementary period.
position paper and other pleadings;
Second Issue: Propriety of the grant
c. Dilatory motion for postponement;
of the writ of amparo
d. Motion for a bill of particulars;
The writ of amparo is a protective remedy aimed at providing judicial
e. Counterclaim or cross-claim; relief consisting of the appropriate remedial measures and directives
that may be crafted by the court, in order to address specific
f. Third-party complaint; violations or threats of violation of the constitutional rights to life,
liberty or security.49 Section 1 of A.M. No. 07-9-12-SC specifically
delimits the coverage of the writ of amparo to extralegal killings and
g. Reply;
enforced disappearances, viz.:

h. Motion to declare respondent in default;


Sec. 1. Petition. - The petition for a writ of amparo is a remedy
available to any person whose rights to life, liberty and security is
i. Intervention; violated or threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omission
of a public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity.
j. Memorandum;
The writ shall cover extralegal killings and enforced disappearances
k. Motion for reconsideration of interlocutory orders or interim relief or threats thereof.
orders; and
Extralegal killings are killings committed without due process of law,
l. Petition for certiorari, mandamus, or prohibition against any i.e., without legal safeguards or judicial proceedings.50 On the other
interlocutory order. hand, enforced disappearance has been defined by the Court as the
arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of
liberty by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons
What is prohibited under Section 11 of A.M. No. 07-9-12-SC are
acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State,
motions for reconsideration directed against interlocutory orders or
followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by
interim relief orders, not those assailing the final judgment or order.
concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person,
The pleadings and motions enumerated in Section 11 of A.M. No. 07-
which place such a person outside the protection of the law.51
9-12-SC would unnecessarily cause delays in the proceedings; they
are, thus, proscribed since they would run counter to the summary
nature of the rule on the writ of amparo. A motion seeking a In an amparo action, the parties must establish their respective claims
by substantial evidence.52 Substantial evidence is that amount of

TrinaFaye SPECPRO Review Page 43


evidence which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to Accordingly, a writ of amparo may still issue in the respondent's favor
support a conclusion. It is more than a mere imputation of notwithstanding that he has already been released from detention. In
wrongdoing or violation that would warrant a finding of liability such case, the writ of amparo is issued to facilitate the punishment of
against the person charged.53 those behind the illegal detention through subsequent investigation
and action.
After a thorough review of the records of this case, the Court affirms
the factual findings of the CA, which is largely based on the More importantly, the writ of amparo likewise covers violations of the
respondent's evidence. Verily, the totality of the evidence presented right to security.1âwphi1 At the core of the guarantee of the right to
by the respondent meets the requisite evidentiary threshold. To security, as embodied in Section 2, Article III of the Constitution,60 is
corroborate his allegations, the respondent presented the testimony the immunity of one's person, including the extensions of his/her
of Haber who, during the hearing conducted by the CA on October 6, person, i.e., houses, papers and effects, against unwarranted
2009, averred that on June 15, 2009, he was brought to Mayor government intrusion. Section 2, Article III of the Constitution not
Mamba's house where he and the respondent were tortured. Haber only limits the State's power over a person's home and possession,
testified that hot wax was dripped onto their bodies while they were but more importantly, protects the privacy and sanctity of the person
handcuffed; that they were kicked and beaten with a cue stick and an himself.61
alcohol container. Thereafter, Haber testified that he and the
respondent were brought to the guardhouse where they were The right to security is separate and distinct from the right to life. The
suffocated by placing plastic bags on their heads. He also testified right to life guarantees essentially the right to be alive - upon which
that a wire was inserted inside their penises.54 the enjoyment of all other rights is preconditioned. On the other
hand, the right to security is a guarantee of the secure quality of life,
The respondent's claim was further corroborated by Dr. Tiangco who i.e., the life, to which each person has a right, is not a life lived in fear
testified that on June 18, 2009, she examined the respondent and that his person and property may be unreasonably violated by a
found that he suffered several injuries and multiple second degree powerful ruler.62
bums. Layus also attested that she saw the scars incurred by the
respondent on his head, arms, and back when she interviewed him In Manalo, the Court further opined that the right to security of
on July 26, 2009.55 person yields various permutations of the exercise of the right, such
as freedom from fear or, in the arnparo context, freedom from threat;
In contrast, the respective testimonies of the witnesses for the a guarantee of bodily and psychological integrity or security; and a
petitioners merely consisted in denial and the allegation that the guarantee of protection of one's rights by the government.63 As
respondent was indeed the one who robbed the canteen.56 Clearly, regards the right to security, in the sense of the guarantee of
against the positive testimony of the respondent, which was protection of one's rights by the government, the Court explained:
corroborated by his witnesses, the petitioners' allegations must fail.
In the context of the writ of amparo, this right is built into the
It is settled that denial is inherently a weak defense. To be believed, it guarantees of the rights to life and liberty under Article III, Section
must be buttressed by a strong evidence of non-culpability; 1 of the 1987 Constitution and the right to security of person (as
otherwise, such denial is purely self-serving and without evidentiary freedom from threat and guarantee of bodily and psychological
value.57 Further, even if the respondent was indeed guilty of a crime, integrity) under Article III, Section 2. The right to security of person in
assuming it to be true, it does not justify his immediate this third sense is a corollary of the policy that the State "guarantees
apprehension, in the guise of an invitation, and the subsequent acts full respect for human rights" under Article II, Section 11 of the 1987
of torture inflicted on him. Constitution. As the government is the chief guarantor of order and
security, the Constitutional guarantee of the rights to life, liberty and
What is clear is that the respondent was able to prove by substantial security of person is rendered ineffective if government does not
evidence that he was apprehended by the members of the Task afford protection to these rights especially when they are under
Force, illegally detained, and tortured. It was further established that threat. Protection includes conducting effective investigations,
Maritess would not have seen his son if not for the timely organization of the government apparatus to extend protection to
intercession of P/Supt. Buenaobra of the PNP Cagayan Regional victims of extralegal killings or enforced disappearances (or threats
Office. The members of the Task Force apprehended and detained thereof) and/or their families, and bringing offenders to the bar of
the respondent to make him admit to his complicity in the heist the justice. x x x.64 (Citation omitted and emphasis in the original)
night before sans the benefit of legal and judicial processes.
In this case, it is incumbent upon the petitioners, who all hold
Nevertheless, it is undisputed that the respondent, after four days of positions in the local government of Tuao, to conduct, at the very
detention, had been released by the members of the Task Force on least, an investigation on the alleged illegal arrest, illegal detention
June 18, 2009. This fact alone, however, does not negate the and torture of the respondent. The petitioners, nevertheless, claim
propriety of the grant of a writ of amparo. that the Office of the Mayor and the police station of Tuao, unknown
to the respondent, are conducting an investigation on the incident.
However, other than their bare assertion, they failed to present any
In the seminal case of Secretary of National Defense, et al. v. Manalo, evidence that would prove the supposed investigation. Mere
et al.,58 the Court emphasized that the writ of amparo serves both allegation is not a fact. Absent any evidence that would corroborate
preventive and curative roles in addressing the problem of extralegal the said claim, it is a mere allegation that does not have any
killings and enforced disappearances. It is preventive in that it breaks probative value.
the expectation of impunity in the commission of these offenses; it is
curative in that it facilitates the subsequent punishment of
perpetrators as it will inevitably yield leads to subsequent Verily, the petitioners failed to point to any specific measures
investigation and action.59 undertaken by them to effectively investigate the irregularities
alleged by the respondent and to prosecute those who are
responsible therefor. Worse, the illegal detention and torture suffered

TrinaFaye SPECPRO Review Page 44


by the respondent were perpetrated by the members of the Task liberty and security of the respondent when he was
Force themselves. supposedly arrested on June 14, 2009 by the members of
the Task Force Lingkod Bayan until he was released on
Instead of effectively addressing the irregularities committed against June 18, 2009;
the respondent, the petitioners seemingly justify the illegal arrest and
detention and infliction of bodily harm upon the respondent by 3. The petitioners and the incumbent officials of the local
stating that the latter is a habitual delinquent and was the one government of Tuao are hereby ordered to provide
responsible for the robbery of the canteen. As stated earlier, even if genuine and effective assistance to the investigation to be
the respondent committed a crime, the petitioners, as local conducted by the Philippine National Police - Cagayan
government officials, are not at liberty to disregard the respondent's Regional Office, including but not limited to furnishing
constitutionally guaranteed rights to life, liberty and security. It is and/or providing the latter a list of the members of the
quite unfortunate that the petitioners, all local government officials, Task Force Lingkod Bayan and all those who had a direct
are the very ones who are infringing on the respondent's involvement in the violation of the respondent's rights to
fundamental rights to life, liberty and security. life, liberty and security, including their whereabouts, and
to allow the investigation to run its course unhindered;
Clearly, there is substantial evidence in this case that would warrant
the conclusion that the respondent's right to security, as a guarantee 4. The investigation shall be completed not later than six
of protection by the government, was violated. Accordingly, the CA (6) months from receipt of this Decision; and within thirty
correctly issued the writ of amparo in favor of the respondent. (30) days after completion of the investigation, the
Regional Director of the Philippine National Police -
The petitioners' claim that it was improper for the CA to direct the Cagayan Regional Office shall submit a full report on the
PNP Cagayan Regional Office to conduct further investigation on the results of the investigation to the Court of Appeals;
respondent's allegations deserves scant consideration. There is simply
no basis to the petitioners' claim that the PNP Cagayan Regional 5. The Court of Appeals, within thirty (30) days from the
Office would not be expected to be objective in their investigation submission by the Regional Director of the Philippine
since representatives therefrom testified during the summary hearing. National Police - Cagayan Regional Office of his full report,
It bears stressing that P/Supt. Buenaobra was not a witness for the is directed to submit to this Court its own report and
respondent; he testified pursuant to the subpoena duces tecum ad recommendations on the investigation and furnish a copy
testificandum issued by the CA. Further, as aptly pointed out by the thereof to the incumbent Regional Director of the
CA, it would be more reasonable for the PNP Cagayan Regional Philippine National Police - Cagayan Regional Office, the
Office to conduct the said investigation since it has already petitioners, and the respondent; and
commenced an initial investigation on the incident.
6. This case is referred back to the Court of Appeals for
Nevertheless, there is a need to modify the reliefs granted by the CA appropriate proceedings directed at the monitoring of (a)
in favor of the respondent. The CA's Decision was promulgated in the investigation to be conducted by the Philippine
2010.1âwphi1 Since then, Mayor Mamba's term of office as Mayor of National Police - Cagayan Regional Office, (b) the actions
Tuao had ended and, presumably, a new individual is now occupying to be undertaken in pursuance of the said investigation,
the position of Mayor of Tuao. Accordingly, the incumbent Mayor of and (c) the validation of the results. SO ORDERED.
Tuao should be directed to likewise provide assistance to the
investigation to be conducted by the PNP Cagayan Regional Office.
EN BANC G.R. No. 193636 July 24, 2012
Further, it has not been manifested in this case that the PNP Cagayan
Regional Office had commenced the investigation on the incident
that was ordered by the CA. MARYNETTE R. GAMBOA, Petitioner,
vs. P/SSUPT. MARLOU C. CHAN, in his capacity as the PNP-
Provincial Director of Ilocos Norte, and P/SUPT. WILLIAM 0.
WHEREFORE, in consideration of the foregoing disquisitions, the
FANG, in his capacity as Chief, Intelligence Division, PNP
petition is DENIED. The Decision dated January 18, 2010 and
Provincial Office, Ilocos Norte, Respondents.
Resolution dated March 2, 2010 issued by the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. SP. No. 00038 are hereby AFFIRMED subject to the following
terms: DECISION

1. Petitioners Mayor William N. Mamba, Atty. Francisco N. SERENO, J.:


Mamba, Jr., Ariel Malana, Narding Aggangan, Jomari
Sagalon, Jun Cinabre, Frederick Baligod, Rommel Before this Court is an Appeal by Certiorari (Under Rule 45 of the
Encollado, Joseph Tumaliuan, and Randy Dayag and the Rules of Court) filed pursuant to Rule 191 of the Rule on the Writ of
incumbent local government officials of Tuao, Cagayan are Habeas Data,2 seeking a review of the 9 September 2010 Decision in
hereby enjoined from doing any act of physical or Special Proc. No. 14979 of the Regional Trial Court, First Judicial
psychological violence on respondent Leomar Bueno and Region, Laoag City, Branch 13 (RTC Br. 13).3 The questioned Decision
his family including those who assisted him in the filing of denied petitioner the privilege of the writ of habeas data.4
the petition for the issuance of a writ of amparo with the
Court of Appeals;
At the time the present Petition was filed, petitioner Marynette R.
Gamboa (Gamboa) was the Mayor of Dingras, Ilocos Norte.5
2. The Regional Director of the Philippine National Police – Meanwhile, respondent Police Senior Superintendent (P/SSUPT.)
Cagayan Regional Office, whoever is the incumbent, is Marlou C. Chan was the Officer-in-Charge, and respondent Police
hereby directed to conduct an investigation, using Superintendent (P/SUPT.) William O. Fang was the Chief of the
extraordinary diligence, on the violation of the rights to life,

TrinaFaye SPECPRO Review Page 45


Provincial Investigation and Detective Management Branch, both of Commissioner Lieutenant General Edilberto Pardo Adan
the Ilocos Norte Police Provincial Office.6 also clarified that the PAGs are being destabilized so that
their ability to threaten and sow fear during the election
On 8 December 2009, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has been considerably weakened.19
issued Administrative Order No. 275 (A.O. 275), "Creating an
Independent Commission to Address the Alleged Existence of Private (e) The Report briefly touched upon the validation system
Armies in the Country."7 The body, which was later on referred to as of the PNP:
the Zeñarosa Commission,8 was formed to investigate the existence
of private army groups (PAGs) in the country with a view to Also, in order to provide the Commission with accurate data which is
eliminating them before the 10 May 2010 elections and dismantling truly reflective of the situation in the field, the PNP complied with the
them permanently in the future.9 Upon the conclusion of its Commission’s recommendation that they revise their validation
investigation, the Zeñarosa Commission released and submitted to system to include those PAGs previously listed as dormant. In the
the Office of the President a confidential report entitled "A Journey most recent briefing provided by the PNP on April 26, 2010, there are
Towards H.O.P.E.: The Independent Commission Against Private one hundred seven (107) existing PAGs. Of these groups, the PNP
Armies’ Report to the President" (the Report).10 reported that seven (7) PAGs have been reorganized.20

Gamboa alleged that the Philippine National Police in Ilocos Norte On 6 and 7 July 2010, ABS-CBN broadcasted on its evening news
(PNP–Ilocos Norte) conducted a series of surveillance operations program the portion of the Report naming Gamboa as one of the
against her and her aides,11 and classified her as someone who politicians alleged to be maintaining a PAG.21 Gamboa averred that
keeps a PAG.12 Purportedly without the benefit of data verification, her association with a PAG also appeared on print media.22 Thus, she
PNP–Ilocos Norte forwarded the information gathered on her to the was publicly tagged as someone who maintains a PAG on the basis of
Zeñarosa Commission,13 thereby causing her inclusion in the the unverified information that the PNP-Ilocos Norte gathered and
Report’s enumeration of individuals maintaining PAGs.14 More forwarded to the Zeñarosa Commission.23 As a result, she claimed
specifically, she pointed out the following items reflected therein: that her malicious or reckless inclusion in the enumeration of
personalities maintaining a PAG as published in the Report also made
(a) The Report cited the PNP as its source for the portion her, as well as her supporters and other people identified with her,
regarding the status of PAGs in the Philippines.15 susceptible to harassment and police surveillance operations.24

(b) The Report stated that "x x x the PNP organized one Contending that her right to privacy was violated and her reputation
dedicated Special Task Group (STG) for each private armed maligned and destroyed, Gamboa filed a Petition dated 9 July 2010
group (PAG) to monitor and counteract their activities."16 for the issuance of a writ of habeas data against respondents in their
capacities as officials of the PNP-Ilocos Norte.25 In her Petition, she
(c) Attached as Appendix "F" of the Report is a tabulation prayed for the following reliefs: (a) destruction of the unverified
generated by the PNP and captioned as "Status of PAGs reports from the PNP-Ilocos Norte database; (b) withdrawal of all
Monitoring by STGs as of April 19, 2010," which classifies information forwarded to higher PNP officials; (c) rectification of the
PAGs in the country according to region, indicates their damage done to her honor; (d) ordering respondents to refrain from
identity, and lists the prominent personalities with whom forwarding unverified reports against her; and (e) restraining
these groups are associated.17 The first entry in the table respondents from making baseless reports.26
names a PAG, known as the Gamboa Group, linked to
herein petitioner Gamboa.18 The case was docketed as Special Proc. No. 14979 and was raffled to
RTC Br. 13, which issued the corresponding writ on 14 July 2010 after
(d) Statistics on the status of PAGs were based on data finding the Petition meritorious on its face.27 Thus, the trial court (a)
from the PNP, to wit: instructed respondents to submit all information and reports
forwarded to and used by the Zeñarosa Commission as basis to
include her in the list of persons maintaining PAGs; (b) directed
The resolutions were the subject of a national press respondents, and any person acting on their behalf, to cease and
conference held in Malacañang on March 24, 2010 at which desist from forwarding to the Zeñarosa Commission, or to any other
time, the Commission was also asked to comment on the government entity, information that they may have gathered against
PNP report that out of one hundred seventeen (117) her without the approval of the court; (c) ordered respondents to
partisan armed groups validated, twenty-four (24) had make a written return of the writ together with supporting affidavits;
been dismantled with sixty-seven (67) members and (d) scheduled the summary hearing of the case on 23 July
apprehended and more than eighty-six (86) firearms 2010.28
confiscated.

In their Return of the Writ, respondents alleged that they had acted
Commissioner Herman Basbaño qualified that said within the bounds of their mandate in conducting the investigation
statistics were based on PNP data but that the more and surveillance of Gamboa.29 The information stored in their
significant fact from his report is that the PNP has been database supposedly pertained to two criminal cases in which she
vigilant in monitoring the activities of these armed groups was implicated, namely: (a) a Complaint for murder and frustrated
and this vigilance is largely due to the existence of the murder docketed as NPS DOC No. 1-04-INQ-091-00077, and (b) a
Commission which has continued communicating with the Complaint for murder, frustrated murder and direct assault upon a
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and PNP personnel person in authority, as well as indirect assault and multiple attempted
in the field to constantly provide data on the activities of murder, docketed as NPS DOCKET No. 1-04-INV-10-A-00009.30
the PAGs. Commissioner Basbaño stressed that the
Commission’s efforts have preempted the formation of the
PAGs because now everyone is aware that there is a body Respondents likewise asserted that the Petition was incomplete for
monitoring the PAGs movement through the PNP. failing to comply with the following requisites under the Rule on the

TrinaFaye SPECPRO Review Page 46


Writ of Habeas Data: (a) the manner in which the right to privacy was 2. The trial court erred in declaring that Gamboa failed to
violated or threatened with violation and how it affected the right to present sufficient proof to link respondents as the
life, liberty or security of Gamboa; (b) the actions and recourses she informant to [sic] the Zeñarosa Commission;
took to secure the data or information; and (c) the location of the
files, registers or databases, the government office, and the person in 3. The trial court failed to satisfy the spirit of Habeas Data;
charge, in possession or in control of the data or information.31 They
also contended that the Petition for Writ of Habeas Data, being
limited to cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, 4. The trial court erred in pronouncing that the reliance of
was not the proper remedy to address the alleged besmirching of the the Zeñarosa Commission to [sic] the PNP as alleged by
reputation of Gamboa.32 Gamboa is an assumption;

RTC Br. 13, in its assailed Decision dated 9 September 2010, 5. The trial court erred in making a point that respondents
dismissed the Petition.33 The trial court categorically ruled that the are distinct to PNP as an agency.39
inclusion of Gamboa in the list of persons maintaining PAGs, as
published in the Report, constituted a violation of her right to On the other hand, respondents maintain the following arguments:
privacy, to wit: (a) Gamboa failed to present substantial evidence to show that her
right to privacy in life, liberty or security was violated, and (b) the trial
In this light, it cannot also be disputed that by her inclusion in the list court correctly dismissed the Petition on the ground that she had
of persons maintaining PAGs, Gamboa’s right to privacy indubitably failed to present sufficient proof showing that respondents were the
has been violated. The violation understandably affects her life, source of the report naming her as one who maintains a PAG.40
liberty and security enormously. The untold misery that comes with
the tag of having a PAG could even be insurmountable. As she Meanwhile, Gamboa argues that although A.O. 275 was a lawful
essentially alleged in her petition, she fears for her security that at order, fulfilling the mandate to dismantle PAGs in the country should
any time of the day the unlimited powers of respondents may likely be done in accordance with due process, such that the gathering and
be exercised to further malign and destroy her reputation and to forwarding of unverified information on her must be considered
transgress her right to life. unlawful.41 She also reiterates that she was able to present sufficient
evidence showing that the subject information originated from
By her inclusion in the list of persons maintaining PAGs, it is likewise respondents.42
undisputed that there was certainly intrusion into Gamboa’s activities.
It cannot be denied that information was gathered as basis therefor. In determining whether Gamboa should be granted the privilege of
After all, under Administrative Order No. 275, the Zeñarosa the writ of habeas data, this Court is called upon to, first, unpack the
Commission was tasked to investigate the existence of private armies concept of the right to privacy; second, explain the writ of habeas
in the country, with all the powers of an investigative body under data as an extraordinary remedy that seeks to protect the right to
Section 37, Chapter 9, Book I of the Administrative Code of 1987. informational privacy; and finally, contextualize the right to privacy
vis-à-vis the state interest involved in the case at bar.
xxx xxx xxx
The Right to Privacy
By her inclusion in the list of persons maintaining PAGs, Gamboa
alleged as she accused respondents, who are public officials, of The right to privacy, as an inherent concept of liberty, has long been
having gathered and provided information that made the Zeñarosa recognized as a constitutional right. This Court, in Morfe v. Mutuc,43
Commission to include her in the list. Obviously, it was this gathering thus enunciated:
and forwarding of information supposedly by respondents that
petitioner barks at as unlawful. x x x.34 The due process question touching on an alleged deprivation of
liberty as thus resolved goes a long way in disposing of the
Despite the foregoing findings, RTC Br. 13 nevertheless dismissed the objections raised by plaintiff that the provision on the periodical
Petition on the ground that Gamboa failed to prove through submission of a sworn statement of assets and liabilities is violative of
substantial evidence that the subject information originated from the constitutional right to privacy. There is much to be said for this
respondents, and that they forwarded this database to the Zeñarosa view of Justice Douglas: "Liberty in the constitutional sense must
Commission without the benefit of prior verification.35 The trial court mean more than freedom from unlawful governmental restraint; it
also ruled that even before respondents assumed their official must include privacy as well, if it is to be a repository of freedom. The
positions, information on her may have already been acquired.36 right to be let alone is indeed the beginning of all freedom." As a
Finally, it held that the Zeñarosa Commission, as the body tasked to matter of fact, this right to be let alone is, to quote from Mr. Justice
gather information on PAGs and authorized to disclose information Brandeis "the most comprehensive of rights and the right most
on her, should have been impleaded as a necessary if not a valued by civilized men."
compulsory party to the Petition.37
The concept of liberty would be emasculated if it does not likewise
Gamboa then filed the instant Appeal by Certiorari dated 24 compel respect for his personality as a unique individual whose claim
September 2010,38 raising the following assignment of errors: to privacy and interference demands respect. xxx.

1. The trial court erred in ruling that the Zeñarosa xxx xxx xxx
Commission be impleaded as either a necessary or
indispensable party; x x x In the leading case of Griswold v. Connecticut, Justice Douglas,
speaking for five members of the Court, stated: "Various guarantees
create zones of privacy. The right of association contained in the

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penumbra of the First Amendment is one, as we have seen. The Third xxx xxx xxx
Amendment in its prohibition against the quartering of soldiers ‘in
any house’ in time of peace without the consent of the owner is Sec. 6. The liberty of abode and of changing the same within the
another facet of that privacy. The Fourth Amendment explicitly limits prescribed by law shall not be impaired except upon lawful
affirms the ‘right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, order of the court. Neither shall the right to travel be impaired except
papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.’ The in the interest of national security, public safety, or public health as
Fifth Amendment in its Self-Incrimination Clause enables the citizen may be provided by law.
to create a zone of privacy which government may not force him to
surrender to his detriment. The Ninth Amendment provides: ‘The
enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be xxx xxx xxx
construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." After
referring to various American Supreme Court decisions, Justice Sec. 8. The right of the people, including those employed in the
Douglas continued: "These cases bear witness that the right of public and private sectors, to form unions, associations, or societies
privacy which presses for recognition is a legitimate one." for purposes not contrary to law shall not be abridged.

xxx xxx xxx Sec. 17. No person shall be compelled to be a witness against
himself.
So it is likewise in our jurisdiction. The right to privacy as such is
accorded recognition independently of its identification with liberty; Zones of privacy are likewise recognized and protected in our laws.
in itself, it is fully deserving of constitutional protection. The language The Civil Code provides that "every person shall respect the dignity,
of Prof. Emerson is particularly apt: "The concept of limited personality, privacy and peace of mind of his neighbors and other
government has always included the idea that governmental powers persons" and punishes as actionable torts several acts by a person of
stop short of certain intrusions into the personal life of the citizen. meddling and prying into the privacy of another. It also holds a
This is indeed one of the basic distinctions between absolute and public officer or employee or any private individual liable for
limited government. Ultimate and pervasive control of the individual, damages for any violation of the rights and liberties of another
in all aspects of his life, is the hallmark of the absolute state. In person, and recognizes the privacy of letters and other private
contrast, a system of limited government, safeguards a private sector, communications. The Revised Penal Code makes a crime the violation
which belongs to the individual, firmly distinguishing it from the of secrets by an officer, the revelation of trade and industrial secrets,
public sector, which the state can control. Protection of this private and trespass to dwelling. Invasion of privacy is an offense in special
sector — protection, in other words, of the dignity and integrity of laws like the Anti-Wiretapping Law, the Secrecy of Bank Deposits Act
the individual — has become increasingly important as modern and the Intellectual Property Code. The Rules of Court on privileged
society has developed. All the forces of a technological age — communication likewise recognize the privacy of certain information.
industrialization, urbanization, and organization — operate to narrow
the area of privacy and facilitate intrusion into it. In modern terms, Unlike the dissenters, we prescind from the premise that the right to
the capacity to maintain and support this enclave of private life marks privacy is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution, hence,
the difference between a democratic and a totalitarian society."44 it is the burden of government to show that A.O. No. 308 is justified
(Emphases supplied) by some compelling state interest and that it is narrowly drawn. x x
x.46 (Emphases supplied)
In Ople v. Torres,45 this Court traced the constitutional and statutory
bases of the right to privacy in Philippine jurisdiction, to wit: Clearly, the right to privacy is considered a fundamental right that
must be protected from intrusion or constraint. However, in Standard
Indeed, if we extend our judicial gaze we will find that the right of Chartered Bank v. Senate Committee on Banks,47 this Court
privacy is recognized and enshrined in several provisions of our underscored that the right to privacy is not absolute, viz:
Constitution. It is expressly recognized in section 3 (1) of the Bill of
Rights: With respect to the right of privacy which petitioners claim
respondent has violated, suffice it to state that privacy is not an
Sec. 3. (1) The privacy of communication and correspondence shall be absolute right. While it is true that Section 21, Article VI of the
inviolable except upon lawful order of the court, or when public Constitution, guarantees respect for the rights of persons affected by
safety or order requires otherwise as prescribed by law. the legislative investigation, not every invocation of the right to
privacy should be allowed to thwart a legitimate congressional
Other facets of the right to privacy are protected in various provisions inquiry. In Sabio v. Gordon, we have held that the right of the people
of the Bill of Rights, viz: to access information on matters of public concern generally prevails
over the right to privacy of ordinary financial transactions. In that
case, we declared that the right to privacy is not absolute where there
Sec. 1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without is an overriding compelling state interest. Employing the rational
due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal basis relationship test, as laid down in Morfe v. Mutuc, there is no
protection of the laws. infringement of the individual’s right to privacy as the requirement to
disclosure information is for a valid purpose, in this case, to ensure
Sec. 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, that the government agencies involved in regulating banking
papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of transactions adequately protect the public who invest in foreign
whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no securities. Suffice it to state that this purpose constitutes a reason
search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable compelling enough to proceed with the assailed legislative
cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination investigation.48
under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he
may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched
and the persons or things to be seized.

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Therefore, when the right to privacy finds tension with a competing inter alia, the Gillow judgment of 24 November 1986,
state objective, the courts are required to weigh both notions. In Series A no. 109, p. 22, § 55).
these cases, although considered a fundamental right, the right to
privacy may nevertheless succumb to an opposing or overriding state 59. However, the Court recognises that the national
interest deemed legitimate and compelling. authorities enjoy a margin of appreciation, the scope of
which will depend not only on the nature of the legitimate
The Writ of Habeas Data aim pursued but also on the particular nature of the
interference involved. In the instant case, the interest of the
The writ of habeas data is an independent and summary remedy respondent State in protecting its national security must be
designed to protect the image, privacy, honor, information, and balanced against the seriousness of the interference with
freedom of information of an individual, and to provide a forum to the applicant’s right to respect for his private life.
enforce one’s right to the truth and to informational privacy.49 It
seeks to protect a person’s right to control information regarding There can be no doubt as to the necessity, for the purpose of
oneself, particularly in instances in which such information is being protecting national security, for the Contracting States to have laws
collected through unlawful means in order to achieve unlawful granting the competent domestic authorities power, firstly, to collect
ends.50 It must be emphasized that in order for the privilege of the and store in registers not accessible to the public information on
writ to be granted, there must exist a nexus between the right to persons and, secondly, to use this information when assessing the
privacy on the one hand, and the right to life, liberty or security on suitability of candidates for employment in posts of importance for
the other. Section 1 of the Rule on the Writ of Habeas Data reads: national security.

Habeas data. – The writ of habeas data is a remedy available to any Admittedly, the contested interference adversely affected Mr.
person whose right to privacy in life, liberty or security is violated or Leander’s legitimate interests through the consequences it had on his
threatened by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or possibilities of access to certain sensitive posts within the public
employee, or of a private individual or entity engaged in the service. On the other hand, the right of access to public service is not
gathering, collecting or storing of data information regarding the as such enshrined in the Convention (see, inter alia, the Kosiek
person, family, home and correspondence of the aggrieved party. judgment of 28 August 1986, Series A no. 105, p. 20, §§ 34-35), and,
apart from those consequences, the interference did not constitute
The notion of informational privacy is still developing in Philippine an obstacle to his leading a private life of his own choosing.
law and jurisprudence. Considering that even the Latin American
habeas data, on which our own Rule on the Writ of Habeas Data is In these circumstances, the Court accepts that the margin of
rooted, finds its origins from the European tradition of data appreciation available to the respondent State in assessing the
protection,51 this Court can be guided by cases on the protection of pressing social need in the present case, and in particular in choosing
personal data decided by the European Court of Human Rights the means for achieving the legitimate aim of protecting national
(ECHR). Of particular note is Leander v. Sweden,52 in which the ECHR security, was a wide one.
balanced the right of citizens to be free from interference in their
private affairs with the right of the state to protect its national xxx xxx xxx
security. In this case, Torsten Leander (Leander), a Swedish citizen,
worked as a temporary replacement museum technician at the Naval
Museum, which was adjacent to a restricted military security zone.53 66. The fact that the information released to the military authorities
He was refused employment when the requisite personnel control was not communicated to Mr. Leander cannot by itself warrant the
resulted in an unfavorable outcome on the basis of information in the conclusion that the interference was not "necessary in a democratic
secret police register, which was kept in accordance with the society in the interests of national security", as it is the very absence
Personnel Control Ordinance and to which he was prevented of such communication which, at least partly, ensures the efficacy of
access.54 He claimed, among others, that this procedure of security the personnel control procedure (see, mutatis mutandis, the above-
control violated Article 8 of the European Convention of Human mentioned Klass and Others judgment, Series A no. 28, p. 27, § 58).
Rights55 on the right to privacy, as nothing in his personal or political
background would warrant his classification in the register as a The Court notes, however, that various authorities consulted before
security risk.56 the issue of the Ordinance of 1969, including the Chancellor of
Justice and the Parliamentary Ombudsman, considered it desirable
The ECHR ruled that the storage in the secret police register of that the rule of communication to the person concerned, as
information relating to the private life of Leander, coupled with the contained in section 13 of the Ordinance, should be effectively
refusal to allow him the opportunity to refute the same, amounted to applied in so far as it did not jeopardise the purpose of the control
an interference in his right to respect for private life.57 However, the (see paragraph 31 above).
ECHR held that the interference was justified on the following
grounds: (a) the personnel control system had a legitimate aim, which 67. The Court, like the Commission, thus reaches the conclusion that
was the protection of national security,58 and (b) the Personnel the safeguards contained in the Swedish personnel control system
Control Ordinance gave the citizens adequate indication as to the meet the requirements of paragraph 2 of Article 8 (art. 8-2). Having
scope and the manner of exercising discretion in the collection, regard to the wide margin of appreciation available to it, the
recording and release of information by the authorities.59 The respondent State was entitled to consider that in the present case the
following statements of the ECHR must be emphasized: interests of national security prevailed over the individual interests of
the applicant (see paragraph 59 above). The interference to which Mr.
58. The notion of necessity implies that the interference Leander was subjected cannot therefore be said to have been
corresponds to a pressing social need and, in particular, disproportionate to the legitimate aim pursued. (Emphases supplied)
that it is proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued (see,

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Leander illustrates how the right to informational privacy, as a specific or threat to her right to privacy since that act is an inherent and
component of the right to privacy, may yield to an overriding crucial component of intelligence-gathering and
legitimate state interest. In similar fashion, the determination of investigation.1âwphi1 Additionally, Gamboa herself admitted that the
whether the privilege of the writ of habeas data, being an PNP had a validation system, which was used to update information
extraordinary remedy, may be granted in this case entails a delicate on individuals associated with PAGs and to ensure that the data
balancing of the alleged intrusion upon the private life of Gamboa mirrored the situation on the field.66 Thus, safeguards were put in
and the relevant state interest involved. place to make sure that the information collected maintained its
integrity and accuracy.
The collection and forwarding of information by the PNP vis-à-vis the
interest of the state to dismantle private armies. Pending the enactment of legislation on data protection, this Court
declines to make any further determination as to the propriety of
The Constitution explicitly mandates the dismantling of private sharing information during specific stages of intelligence gathering.
armies and other armed groups not recognized by the duly To do otherwise would supplant the discretion of investigative bodies
constituted authority.60 It also provides for the establishment of one in the accomplishment of their functions, resulting in an undue
police force that is national in scope and civilian in character, and is encroachment on their competence.
controlled and administered by a national police commission.61
However, to accord the right to privacy with the kind of protection
Taking into account these constitutional fiats, it is clear that the established in existing law and jurisprudence, this Court nonetheless
issuance of A.O. 275 articulates a legitimate state aim, which is to deems it necessary to caution these investigating entities that
investigate the existence of PAGs with the ultimate objective of information-sharing must observe strict confidentiality. Intelligence
dismantling them permanently. gathered must be released exclusively to the authorities empowered
to receive the relevant information. After all, inherent to the right to
privacy is the freedom from "unwarranted exploitation of one’s
To enable the Zeñarosa Commission to achieve its goals, A.O. 275 person or from intrusion into one’s private activities in such a way as
clothed it with the powers of an investigative body, including the to cause humiliation to a person’s ordinary sensibilities."67
power to summon witnesses, administer oaths, take testimony or
evidence relevant to the investigation and use compulsory processes
to produce documents, books, and records.62 A.O. 275 likewise In this case, respondents admitted the existence of the Report, but
authorized the Zeñarosa Commission to deputize the Armed Forces emphasized its confidential nature.1âwphi1 That it was leaked to
of the Philippines, the National Bureau of Investigation, the third parties and the media was regrettable, even warranting
Department of Justice, the PNP, and any other law enforcement reproach. But it must be stressed that Gamboa failed to establish that
agency to assist the commission in the performance of its respondents were responsible for this unintended disclosure. In any
functions.63 event, there are other reliefs available to her to address the
purported damage to her reputation, making a resort to the
extraordinary remedy of the writ of habeas data unnecessary and
Meanwhile, the PNP, as the national police force, is empowered by improper.
law to (a) enforce all laws and ordinances relative to the protection of
lives and properties; (b) maintain peace and order and take all
necessary steps to ensure public safety; and (c) investigate and Finally, this Court rules that Gamboa was unable to prove through
prevent crimes.64 substantial evidence that her inclusion in the list of individuals
maintaining PAGs made her and her supporters susceptible to
harassment and to increased police surveillance. In this regard,
Pursuant to the state interest of dismantling PAGs, as well as the respondents sufficiently explained that the investigations conducted
foregoing powers and functions accorded to the Zeñarosa against her were in relation to the criminal cases in which she was
Commission and the PNP, the latter collected information on implicated. As public officials, they enjoy the presumption of
individuals suspected of maintaining PAGs, monitored them and regularity, which she failed to overcome.
counteracted their activities.65 One of those individuals is herein
petitioner Gamboa.
It is clear from the foregoing discussion that the state interest of
dismantling PAGs far outweighs the alleged intrusion on the private
This Court holds that Gamboa was able to sufficiently establish that life of Gamboa, especially when the collection and forwarding by the
the data contained in the Report listing her as a PAG coddler came PNP of information against her was pursuant to a lawful mandate.
from the PNP. Contrary to the ruling of the trial court, however, the Therefore, the privilege of the writ of habeas data must be denied.
forwarding of information by the PNP to the Zeñarosa Commission
was not an unlawful act that violated or threatened her right to
privacy in life, liberty or security. WHEREFORE, the instant petition for review is DENIED. The assailed
Decision in Special Proc. No. 14979 dated 9 September 2010 of the
Regional Trial Court, Laoag City, Br. 13, insofar as it denies Gamboa
The PNP was rationally expected to forward and share intelligence the privilege of the writ of habeas data, is AFFIRMED. SO ORDERED.
regarding PAGs with the body specifically created for the purpose of
investigating the existence of these notorious groups. Moreover, the
Zeñarosa Commission was explicitly authorized to deputize the police THIRD DIVISION G.R. No. 202666 September 29, 2014
force in the fulfillment of the former’s mandate, and thus had the
power to request assistance from the latter. RHONDA AVE S. VIVARES and SPS. MARGARITA and DAVID
SUZARA, Petitioners,
Following the pronouncements of the ECHR in Leander, the fact that vs.ST. THERESA'S COLLEGE, MYLENE RHEZA T. ESCUDERO, and
the PNP released information to the Zeñarosa Commission without JOHN DOES, Respondents.
prior communication to Gamboa and without affording her the
opportunity to refute the same cannot be interpreted as a violation DECISION

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VELASCO, JR., J.: 3. Smoking and drinking alcoholicbeverages in public
places;
The individual's desire for privacy is never absolute, since
participation in society is an equally powerful desire. Thus each 4. Apparel that exposes the underwear;
individual is continually engaged in a personal adjustment process in
which he balances the desire for privacy with the desire for disclosure 5. Clothing that advocates unhealthy behaviour; depicts
and communication of himself to others, in light of the environmental obscenity; contains sexually suggestive messages,
conditions and social norms set by the society in which he lives. language or symbols; and 6. Posing and uploading pictures
on the Internet that entail ample body exposure.
- Alan Westin, Privacy and Freedom (1967)
On March 1, 2012, Julia, Julienne, Angela, and the other students in
The Case the pictures in question, reported, as required, to the office of Sr.
Celeste Ma. Purisima Pe (Sr. Purisima), STC’s high school principal and
Before Us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the ICM6 Directress. They claimed that during the meeting, they were
Rules of Court, in relation to Section 19 of A.M. No. 08-1-16-SC,1 castigated and verbally abused by the STC officials present in the
otherwise known as the "Rule on the Writ of Habeas Data." conference, including Assistant Principal Mussolini S. Yap (Yap),
Petitioners herein assail the July 27, 2012 Decision2 of the Regional Roswinda Jumiller, and Tigol. What is more, Sr. Purisima informed
Trial Court, Branch 14 in Cebu City (RTC) in SP. Proc. No. 19251-CEB, their parents the following day that, as part of their penalty, they are
which dismissed their habeas data petition. barred from joining the commencement exercises scheduled on
March 30, 2012.

The Facts
A week before graduation, or on March 23, 2012, Angela’s mother,
Dr. Armenia M. Tan (Tan), filed a Petition for Injunction and Damages
Nenita Julia V. Daluz (Julia) and Julienne Vida Suzara (Julienne), both before the RTC of Cebu City against STC, et al., docketed as Civil Case
minors, were, during the period material, graduating high school No. CEB-38594.7 In it, Tan prayed that defendants therein be
students at St. Theresa's College (STC), Cebu City. Sometime in enjoined from implementing the sanction that precluded Angela
January 2012, while changing into their swimsuits for a beach party from joining the commencement exercises.
they were about to attend, Julia and Julienne, along with several
others, took digital pictures of themselves clad only in their
undergarments. These pictures were then uploaded by Angela On March 25, 2012,petitioner Rhonda Ave Vivares (Vivares), the
Lindsay Tan (Angela) on her Facebook3 profile. mother of Julia, joined the fray as an intervenor. On March 28, 2012,
defendants inCivil Case No. CEB-38594 filed their memorandum,
containing printed copies of the photographs in issue as annexes.
Back at the school, Mylene Rheza T. Escudero (Escudero), a computer That same day, the RTC issued a temporary restraining order (TRO)
teacher at STC’s high school department, learned from her students allowing the students to attend the graduation ceremony, to which
that some seniors at STC posted pictures online, depicting STC filed a motion for reconsideration.
themselves from the waist up, dressed only in brassieres. Escudero
then asked her students if they knew who the girls in the photos are.
In turn, they readily identified Julia, Julienne, and Chloe Lourdes Despite the issuance of the TRO,STC, nevertheless, barred the
Taboada (Chloe), among others. sanctioned students from participating in the graduation rites,
arguing that, on the date of the commencement exercises, its
adverted motion for reconsideration on the issuance ofthe TRO
Using STC’s computers, Escudero’s students logged in to their remained unresolved.
respective personal Facebook accounts and showed her photos of
the identified students, which include: (a) Julia and Julienne drinking
hard liquor and smoking cigarettes inside a bar; and (b) Julia and Thereafter, petitioners filed before the RTC a Petition for the Issuance
Julienne along the streets of Cebu wearing articles of clothing that of a Writ of Habeas Data, docketed as SP. Proc. No. 19251-CEB8 on
show virtually the entirety of their black brassieres. What is more, the basis of the following considerations:
Escudero’s students claimed that there were times when access to or
the availability of the identified students’ photos was not confined to 1. The photos of their children in their undergarments (e.g.,
the girls’ Facebook friends,4 but were, in fact, viewable by any bra) were taken for posterity before they changed into
Facebook user.5 their swimsuits on the occasion of a birthday beach party;

Upon discovery, Escudero reported the matter and, through one of 2. The privacy setting of their children’s Facebook accounts
her student’s Facebook page, showed the photosto Kristine Rose was set at "Friends Only." They, thus, have a reasonable
Tigol (Tigol), STC’s Discipline-in-Charge, for appropriate action. expectation of privacy which must be respected.
Thereafter, following an investigation, STC found the identified
students to have deported themselves in a manner proscribed by the 3. Respondents, being involved in the field of education,
school’s Student Handbook, to wit: knew or ought to have known of laws that safeguard the
right to privacy. Corollarily, respondents knew or ought to
1. Possession of alcoholic drinks outside the school have known that the girls, whose privacy has been invaded,
campus; are the victims in this case, and not the offenders. Worse,
after viewing the photos, the minors were called "immoral"
2. Engaging in immoral, indecent, obscene or lewd acts; and were punished outright;

4. The photos accessed belong to the girls and, thus,


cannot be used and reproduced without their consent.

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Escudero, however, violated their rights by saving digital The Issues
copies of the photos and by subsequently showing them to
STC’s officials. Thus, the Facebook accounts of petitioners’ The main issue to be threshed out inthis case is whether or not a writ
children were intruded upon; of habeas datashould be issued given the factual milieu. Crucial in
resolving the controversy, however, is the pivotal point of whether or
5. The intrusion into the Facebook accounts, as well as the not there was indeed an actual or threatened violation of the right to
copying of information, data, and digital images happened privacy in the life, liberty, or security of the minors involved in this
at STC’s Computer Laboratory; and case.

6. All the data and digital images that were extracted were Our Ruling
boldly broadcasted by respondents through their
memorandum submitted to the RTC in connection with We find no merit in the petition.
Civil Case No. CEB-38594. To petitioners, the interplay of
the foregoing constitutes an invasion of their children’s
privacy and, thus, prayed that: (a) a writ of habeas databe Procedural issues concerning the availability of the Writ of Habeas
issued; (b) respondents be ordered to surrender and Data
deposit with the court all soft and printed copies of the
subjectdata before or at the preliminary hearing; and (c) The writ of habeas datais a remedy available to any person whose
after trial, judgment be rendered declaring all information, right to privacy in life, liberty or security is violated or threatened by
data, and digital images accessed, saved or stored, an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or of a
reproduced, spread and used, to have been illegally private individual or entity engaged in the gathering, collecting or
obtained inviolation of the children’s right to privacy. storing of data or information regarding the person, family, home
and correspondence of the aggrieved party.11 It is an independent
Finding the petition sufficient in form and substance, the RTC, and summary remedy designed to protect the image, privacy, honor,
through an Order dated July 5, 2012, issued the writ of habeas data. information, and freedom of information of an individual, and to
Through the same Order, herein respondents were directed to file provide a forum to enforce one’s right to the truth and to
their verified written return, together with the supporting affidavits, informational privacy. It seeks to protect a person’s right to control
within five (5) working days from service of the writ. information regarding oneself, particularly in instances in which such
information is being collected through unlawful means in order to
achieve unlawful ends.12
In time, respondents complied with the RTC’s directive and filed their
verified written return, laying down the following grounds for the
denial of the petition, viz: (a) petitioners are not the proper parties to In developing the writ of habeas data, the Court aimed to protect an
file the petition; (b) petitioners are engaging in forum shopping; (c) individual’s right to informational privacy, among others. A
the instant case is not one where a writ of habeas data may issue;and comparative law scholar has, in fact, defined habeas dataas "a
(d) there can be no violation of their right to privacy as there is no procedure designed to safeguard individual freedom from abuse in
reasonable expectation of privacy on Facebook. the information age."13 The writ, however, will not issue on the basis
merely of an alleged unauthorized access to information about a
person.Availment of the writ requires the existence of a nexus
Ruling of the Regional Trial Court between the right to privacy on the one hand, and the right to life,
liberty or security on the other.14 Thus, the existence of a person’s
On July 27, 2012, the RTC rendered a Decision dismissing the petition right to informational privacy and a showing, at least by substantial
for habeas data. The dispositive portion of the Decision pertinently evidence, of an actual or threatened violation of the right to privacy
states: in life, liberty or security of the victim are indispensable before the
privilege of the writ may be extended.15
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing premises, the Petition is hereby
DISMISSED. Without an actionable entitlement in the first place to the right to
informational privacy, a habeas datapetition will not prosper. Viewed
The parties and media must observe the aforestated confidentiality. from the perspective of the case at bar,this requisite begs this
question: given the nature of an online social network (OSN)––(1)
that it facilitates and promotes real-time interaction among millions,
xxxx if not billions, of users, sans the spatial barriers,16 bridging the gap
created by physical space; and (2) that any information uploaded in
SO ORDERED.9 OSNs leavesan indelible trace in the provider’s databases, which are
outside the control of the end-users––is there a right to informational
To the trial court, petitioners failed to prove the existence of an actual privacy in OSN activities of its users? Before addressing this point, We
or threatened violation of the minors’ right to privacy, one of the must first resolve the procedural issues in this case.
preconditions for the issuance of the writ of habeas data. Moreover,
the court a quoheld that the photos, having been uploaded on a. The writ of habeas data is not only confined to cases of extralegal
Facebook without restrictions as to who may view them, lost their killings and enforced disappearances
privacy in some way. Besides, the RTC noted, STC gathered the
photographs through legal means and for a legal purpose, that is, the Contrary to respondents’ submission, the Writ of Habeas Datawas not
implementation of the school’s policies and rules on discipline. enacted solely for the purpose of complementing the Writ of
Amparoin cases of extralegal killings and enforced disappearances.
Not satisfied with the outcome, petitioners now come before this
Court pursuant to Section 19 of the Rule on Habeas Data.10 Section 2 of the Rule on the Writ of Habeas Data provides:

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Sec. 2. Who May File. – Any aggrieved party may file a petition for the To "engage" in something is different from undertaking a business
writ of habeas data. However, in cases of extralegal killings and endeavour. To "engage" means "to do or take part in something."19
enforced disappearances, the petition may be filed by: It does not necessarily mean that the activity must be done in pursuit
of a business. What matters is that the person or entity must be
(a) Any member of the immediate family of the aggrieved gathering, collecting or storing said data or information about the
party, namely: the spouse, children and parents; or aggrieved party or his or her family. Whether such undertaking
carries the element of regularity, as when one pursues a business,
and is in the nature of a personal endeavour, for any other reason or
(b) Any ascendant, descendant or collateral relative of the even for no reason at all, is immaterial and such will not prevent the
aggrieved party within the fourth civil degreeof writ from getting to said person or entity.
consanguinity or affinity, in default of those mentioned in
the preceding paragraph. (emphasis supplied)
To agree with respondents’ above argument, would mean unduly
limiting the reach of the writ to a very small group, i.e., private
Had the framers of the Rule intended to narrow the operation of the persons and entities whose business is data gathering and storage,
writ only to cases of extralegal killings or enforced disappearances, and in the process decreasing the effectiveness of the writ asan
the above underscored portion of Section 2, reflecting a variance of instrument designed to protect a right which is easily violated in view
habeas data situations, would not have been made. of rapid advancements in the information and communications
technology––a right which a great majority of the users of technology
Habeas data, to stress, was designed "to safeguard individual themselves are not capable of protecting.
freedom from abuse in the information age."17 As such, it is
erroneous to limit its applicability to extralegal killings and enforced Having resolved the procedural aspect of the case, We now proceed
disappearances only. In fact, the annotations to the Rule preparedby to the core of the controversy.
the Committee on the Revision of the Rules of Court, after explaining
that the Writ of Habeas Data complements the Writ of Amparo,
pointed out that: The right to informational privacy on Facebook

The writ of habeas data, however, can be availed of as an a. The Right to Informational Privacy
independent remedy to enforce one’s right to privacy, more
specifically the right to informational privacy. The remedies against The concept of privacyhas, through time, greatly evolved, with
the violation of such right can include the updating, rectification, technological advancements having an influential part therein. This
suppression or destruction of the database or information or files in evolution was briefly recounted in former Chief Justice Reynato S.
possession or in control of respondents.18 (emphasis Ours) Clearly Puno’s speech, The Common Right to Privacy,20 where he explained
then, the privilege of the Writ of Habeas Datamay also be availed of the three strands of the right to privacy, viz: (1) locational or
in cases outside of extralegal killings and enforced disappearances. situational privacy;21 (2) informational privacy; and (3) decisional
privacy.22 Of the three, what is relevant to the case at bar is the right
b. Meaning of "engaged" in the gathering, collecting or storing of to informational privacy––usually defined as the right of individuals
data or information to control information about themselves.23

Respondents’ contention that the habeas data writ may not issue With the availability of numerous avenues for information gathering
against STC, it not being an entity engaged in the gathering, and data sharing nowadays, not to mention each system’s inherent
collecting or storing of data or information regarding the person, vulnerability to attacks and intrusions, there is more reason that every
family, home and correspondence of the aggrieved party, while valid individual’s right to control said flow of information should be
to a point, is, nonetheless, erroneous. protected and that each individual should have at least a reasonable
expectation of privacy in cyberspace. Several commentators
regarding privacy and social networking sites, however, all agree that
To be sure, nothing in the Rule would suggest that the habeas data given the millions of OSN users, "[i]n this [Social Networking]
protection shall be available only against abuses of a person or entity environment, privacy is no longer grounded in reasonable
engaged in the businessof gathering, storing, and collecting of data. expectations, but rather in some theoretical protocol better known as
As provided under Section 1 of the Rule: wishful thinking."24

Section 1. Habeas Data. – The writ of habeas datais a remedy It is due to this notion that the Court saw the pressing need to
available to any person whose right to privacy in life, liberty or provide for judicial remedies that would allow a summary hearing of
security is violated or threatened by an unlawful act or omission of a the unlawful use of data or information and to remedy possible
public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity violations of the right to privacy.25 In the same vein, the South
engaged in the gathering, collecting or storing of data or information African High Court, in its Decision in the landmark case, H v. W,26
regarding the person, family, home and correspondence of the promulgated on January30, 2013, recognized that "[t]he law has to
aggrieved party. (emphasis Ours) take into account the changing realities not only technologically but
also socially or else it will lose credibility in the eyes of the people. x x
The provision, when taken in its proper context, as a whole, x It is imperative that the courts respond appropriately to changing
irresistibly conveys the idea that habeas data is a protection against times, acting cautiously and with wisdom." Consistent with this, the
unlawful acts or omissions of public officials and of private individuals Court, by developing what may be viewed as the Philippine model of
or entities engaged in gathering, collecting, or storing data about the the writ of habeas data, in effect, recognized that, generally speaking,
aggrieved party and his or her correspondences, or about his or her having an expectation of informational privacy is not necessarily
family. Such individual or entity need not be in the business of incompatible with engaging in cyberspace activities, including those
collecting or storing data. that occur in OSNs.

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The question now though is up to whatextent is the right to privacy (d) Only Me - the digital image can be viewed only by the
protected in OSNs? Bear in mind that informational privacy involves user.
personal information. At the same time, the very purpose of OSNs is
socializing––sharing a myriad of information,27 some of which would The foregoing are privacy tools, available to Facebook users,
have otherwise remained personal. designed to set up barriers to broaden or limit the visibility of his or
her specific profile content, statuses, and photos, among others, from
b. Facebook’s Privacy Tools: a response to the clamor for privacy in another user’s point of view. In other words, Facebook extends its
OSN activities users an avenue to make the availability of their Facebook activities
reflect their choice as to "when and to what extent to disclose facts
Briefly, the purpose of an OSN is precisely to give users the ability to about [themselves] – and to put others in the position of receiving
interact and to stay connected to other members of the same or such confidences."34 Ideally, the selected setting will be based on
different social media platform through the sharing of statuses, one’s desire to interact with others, coupled with the opposing need
photos, videos, among others, depending on the services provided to withhold certain information as well as to regulate the spreading
by the site. It is akin to having a room filled with millions of personal of his or her personal information. Needless to say, as the privacy
bulletin boards or "walls," the contents of which are under the control setting becomes more limiting, fewer Facebook users can view that
of each and every user. In his or her bulletin board, a user/owner can user’s particular post.
post anything––from text, to pictures, to music and videos––access to
which would depend on whether he or she allows one, some or all of STC did not violate petitioners’ daughters’ right to privacy
the other users to see his or her posts. Since gaining popularity, the
OSN phenomenon has paved the way to the creation of various Without these privacy settings, respondents’ contention that there is
social networking sites, includingthe one involved in the case at bar, no reasonable expectation of privacy in Facebook would, in context,
www.facebook.com (Facebook), which, according to its developers, be correct. However, such is not the case. It is through the availability
people use "to stay connected with friends and family, to discover of said privacy tools that many OSN users are said to have a
what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters subjective expectation that only those to whomthey grant access to
to them."28 their profile will view the information they post or upload thereto.35

Facebook connections are established through the process of This, however, does not mean thatany Facebook user automatically
"friending" another user. By sending a "friend request," the user has a protected expectation of privacy inall of his or her Facebook
invites another to connect their accounts so that they can view any activities.
and all "Public" and "Friends Only" posts of the other.Once the
request is accepted, the link is established and both users are
permitted to view the other user’s "Public" or "Friends Only" posts, Before one can have an expectation of privacy in his or her OSN
among others. "Friending," therefore, allows the user to form or activity, it is first necessary that said user, in this case the children of
maintain one-to-one relationships with other users, whereby the user petitioners,manifest the intention to keepcertain posts private,
gives his or her "Facebook friend" access to his or her profile and through the employment of measures to prevent access thereto or to
shares certain information to the latter.29 limit its visibility.36 And this intention can materialize in cyberspace
through the utilization of the OSN’s privacy tools. In other words,
utilization of these privacy tools is the manifestation,in cyber world,
To address concerns about privacy,30 but without defeating its of the user’s invocation of his or her right to informational privacy.37
purpose, Facebook was armed with different privacy tools designed
to regulate the accessibility of a user’s profile31 as well as
information uploaded by the user. In H v. W,32 the South Gauteng Therefore, a Facebook user who opts to make use of a privacy tool to
High Court recognized this ability of the users to "customize their grant or deny access to his or her post orprofile detail should not be
privacy settings," but did so with this caveat: "Facebook states in its denied the informational privacy right which necessarily accompanies
policies that, although it makes every effort to protect a user’s said choice.38 Otherwise, using these privacy tools would be a
information, these privacy settings are not foolproof."33 feckless exercise, such that if, for instance, a user uploads a photo or
any personal information to his or her Facebook page and sets its
privacy level at "Only Me" or a custom list so that only the user or a
For instance, a Facebook user canregulate the visibility and chosen few can view it, said photo would still be deemed public by
accessibility of digital images(photos), posted on his or her personal the courts as if the user never chose to limit the photo’s visibility and
bulletin or "wall," except for the user’sprofile picture and ID, by accessibility. Such position, if adopted, will not only strip these
selecting his or her desired privacy setting: privacy tools of their function but it would also disregard the very
intention of the user to keep said photo or information within the
(a) Public - the default setting; every Facebook user can confines of his or her private space.
view the photo;
We must now determine the extent that the images in question were
(b) Friends of Friends - only the user’s Facebook friends visible to other Facebook users and whether the disclosure was
and their friends can view the photo; confidential in nature. In other words, did the minors limit the
disclosure of the photos such that the images were kept within their
(b) Friends - only the user’s Facebook friends can view the zones of privacy? This determination is necessary in resolving the
photo; issue of whether the minors carved out a zone of privacy when the
photos were uploaded to Facebook so that the images will be
protected against unauthorized access and disclosure.
(c) Custom - the photo is made visible only to particular
friends and/or networks of the Facebook user; and
Petitioners, in support of their thesis about their children’s privacy
right being violated, insist that Escudero intruded upon their
children’s Facebook accounts, downloaded copies ofthe pictures and

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showed said photos to Tigol. To them, this was a breach of the remain to be outside the confines of the zones of privacy in view of
minors’ privacy since their Facebook accounts, allegedly, were under the following:
"very private" or "Only Friends" setting safeguarded with a
password.39 Ultimately, they posit that their children’s disclosure was (1) Facebook "allows the world to be more open and
only limited since their profiles were not open to public viewing. connected by giving its users the tools to interact and
Therefore, according to them, people who are not their Facebook share in any conceivable way;"47
friends, including respondents, are barred from accessing said post
without their knowledge and consent. Aspetitioner’s children
testified, it was Angelawho uploaded the subjectphotos which were (2) A good number of Facebook users "befriend" other
only viewable by the five of them,40 although who these five are do users who are total strangers;48
not appear on the records.
(3) The sheer number of "Friends" one user has, usually by
Escudero, on the other hand, stated in her affidavit41 that "my the hundreds; and
students showed me some pictures of girls cladin brassieres. This
student [sic] of mine informed me that these are senior high school (4) A user’s Facebook friend can "share"49 the former’s
[students] of STC, who are their friends in [F]acebook. x x x They then post, or "tag"50 others who are not Facebook friends with
said [that] there are still many other photos posted on the Facebook the former, despite its being visible only tohis or her own
accounts of these girls. At the computer lab, these students then Facebook friends.
logged into their Facebook account [sic], and accessed from there the
various photographs x x x. They even told me that there had been It is well to emphasize at this point that setting a post’s or profile
times when these photos were ‘public’ i.e., not confined to their detail’s privacy to "Friends" is no assurance that it can no longer be
friends in Facebook." viewed by another user who is not Facebook friends with the source
of the content. The user’s own Facebook friend can share said
In this regard, We cannot give muchweight to the minors’ testimonies content or tag his or her own Facebook friend thereto, regardless of
for one key reason: failure to question the students’ act of showing whether the user tagged by the latter is Facebook friends or not with
the photos to Tigol disproves their allegation that the photos were the former. Also, when the post is shared or when a person is tagged,
viewable only by the five of them. Without any evidence to the respective Facebook friends of the person who shared the post or
corroborate their statement that the images were visible only to the who was tagged can view the post, the privacy setting of which was
five of them, and without their challenging Escudero’s claim that the set at "Friends."
other students were able to view the photos, their statements are, at
best, self-serving, thus deserving scant consideration.42 To illustrate, suppose A has 100 Facebook friends and B has 200. A
and B are not Facebook friends. If C, A’s Facebook friend, tags B in A’s
It is well to note that not one of petitioners disputed Escudero’s post, which is set at "Friends," the initial audience of 100 (A’s own
sworn account that her students, who are the minors’ Facebook Facebook friends) is dramatically increased to 300 (A’s 100 friends
"friends," showed her the photos using their own Facebook accounts. plus B’s 200 friends or the public, depending upon B’s privacy
This only goes to show that no special means to be able to viewthe setting). As a result, the audience who can view the post is effectively
allegedly private posts were ever resorted to by Escudero’s expanded––and to a very large extent.
students,43 and that it is reasonable to assume, therefore, that the
photos were, in reality, viewable either by (1) their Facebook friends, This, along with its other features and uses, is confirmation of
or (2) by the public at large. Facebook’s proclivity towards user interaction and socialization rather
than seclusion or privacy, as it encourages broadcasting of individual
Considering that the default setting for Facebook posts is"Public," it user posts. In fact, it has been said that OSNs have facilitated their
can be surmised that the photographs in question were viewable to users’ self-tribute, thereby resulting into the "democratization of
everyone on Facebook, absent any proof that petitioners’ children fame."51 Thus, it is suggested, that a profile, or even a post, with
positively limited the disclosure of the photograph. If suchwere the visibility set at "Friends Only" cannot easily, more so automatically, be
case, they cannot invoke the protection attached to the right to said to be "very private," contrary to petitioners’ argument.
informational privacy. The ensuing pronouncement in US v. Gines-
Perez44 is most instructive: As applied, even assuming that the photos in issue are visible only to
the sanctioned students’ Facebook friends, respondent STC can
[A] person who places a photograph on the Internet precisely intends hardly be taken to task for the perceived privacy invasion since it was
to forsake and renounce all privacy rights to such imagery, the minors’ Facebook friends who showed the pictures to Tigol.
particularly under circumstances suchas here, where the Defendant Respondents were mere recipients of what were posted. They did not
did not employ protective measures or devices that would have resort to any unlawful means of gathering the information as it was
controlled access to the Web page or the photograph itself.45 voluntarily given to them by persons who had legitimate access to
the said posts. Clearly, the fault, if any, lies with the friends of the
Also, United States v. Maxwell46 held that "[t]he more open the minors. Curiously enough, however, neither the minors nor their
method of transmission is, the less privacy one can reasonably parents imputed any violation of privacy against the students who
expect. Messages sent to the public at large inthe chat room or e- showed the images to Escudero.
mail that is forwarded from correspondent to correspondent loses
any semblance of privacy." Furthermore, petitioners failed to prove their contention that
respondents reproduced and broadcasted the photographs. In fact,
That the photos are viewable by "friends only" does not necessarily what petitioners attributed to respondents as an act of offensive
bolster the petitioners’ contention. In this regard, the cyber disclosure was no more than the actuality that respondents
community is agreed that the digital images under this setting still appended said photographs in their memorandum submitted to the
trial court in connection with Civil Case No. CEB-38594.52 These are

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not tantamount to a violation of the minor’s informational privacy ought to be aware that, by entering or uploading any kind of data or
rights, contrary to petitioners’ assertion. information online, they are automatically and inevitably making it
permanently available online, the perpetuation of which is outside
In sum, there can be no quibbling that the images in question, or to the ambit of their control. Furthermore, and more importantly,
be more precise, the photos of minor students scantily clad, are information, otherwise private, voluntarily surrendered by them can
personal in nature, likely to affect, if indiscriminately circulated, the be opened, read, or copied by third parties who may or may not be
reputation of the minors enrolled in a conservative institution. allowed access to such.
However, the records are bereft of any evidence, other than bare
assertions that they utilized Facebook’s privacy settings to make the It is, thus, incumbent upon internet users to exercise due diligence in
photos visible only to them or to a select few. Without proof that their online dealings and activities and must not be negligent in
they placed the photographs subject of this case within the ambit of protecting their rights. Equity serves the vigilant. Demanding relief
their protected zone of privacy, they cannot now insist that they have from the courts, as here, requires that claimants themselves take
an expectation of privacy with respect to the photographs in utmost care in safeguarding a right which they allege to have been
question. violated. These are indispensable. We cannot afford protection to
persons if they themselves did nothing to place the matter within the
Had it been proved that the access tothe pictures posted were confines of their private zone. OSN users must be mindful enough to
limited to the original uploader, through the "Me Only" privacy learn the use of privacy tools, to use them if they desire to keep the
setting, or that the user’s contact list has been screened to limit information private, and to keep track of changes in the available
access to a select few, through the "Custom" setting, the result may privacy settings, such as those of Facebook, especially because
have been different, for in such instances, the intention to limit access Facebook is notorious for changing these settings and the site's
to the particular post, instead of being broadcasted to the public at layout often.
large or all the user’s friends en masse, becomes more manifest and
palpable. In finding that respondent STC and its officials did not violate the
minors' privacy rights, We find no cogent reason to disturb the
On Cyber Responsibility findings and case disposition of the court a quo.

It has been said that "the best filter is the one between your In light of the foregoing, the Court need not belabor the other
children’s ears."53 This means that self-regulation on the part of OSN assigned errors.
users and internet consumers ingeneral is the best means of avoiding
privacy rights violations.54 As a cyberspace communitymember, one WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is hereby DENIED.
has to be proactive in protecting his or her own privacy.55 It is in this The Decision dated July 27, 2012 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch
regard that many OSN users, especially minors, fail.Responsible social 14 in Cebu City in SP. Proc. No. 19251-CEB is hereby AFFIRMED.
networking or observance of the "netiquettes"56 on the part of
teenagers has been the concern of many due to the No pronouncement as to costs. SO ORDERED.
widespreadnotion that teenagers can sometimes go too far since
they generally lack the people skills or general wisdom to conduct
themselves sensibly in a public forum.57 FIRST DIVISION G.R. No. 174689 October 22, 2007

Respondent STC is clearly aware of this and incorporating lessons on ROMMEL JACINTO DANTES SILVERIO, petitioner,
good cyber citizenship in its curriculum to educate its students on vs. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.
proper online conduct may be mosttimely. Too, it is not only STC but
a number of schools and organizations have already deemed it DECISION
important to include digital literacy and good cyber citizenshipin
their respective programs and curricula in view of the risks that the
CORONA, J.:
children are exposed to every time they participate in online
activities.58 Furthermore, considering the complexity of the cyber
world and its pervasiveness,as well as the dangers that these children When God created man, He made him in the likeness of
are wittingly or unwittingly exposed to in view of their unsupervised God; He created them male and female. (Genesis 5:1-2)
activities in cyberspace, the participation of the parents in disciplining
and educating their children about being a good digital citizen is Amihan gazed upon the bamboo reed planted by Bathala
encouraged by these institutions and organizations. In fact, it is and she heard voices coming from inside the bamboo. "Oh
believed that "to limit such risks, there’s no substitute for parental North Wind! North Wind! Please let us out!," the voices said.
involvement and supervision."59 She pecked the reed once, then twice. All of a sudden, the
bamboo cracked and slit open. Out came two human beings;
As such, STC cannot be faulted for being steadfast in its duty of one was a male and the other was a female. Amihan named
teaching its students to beresponsible in their dealings and activities the man "Malakas" (Strong) and the woman "Maganda"
in cyberspace, particularly in OSNs, whenit enforced the disciplinary (Beautiful). (The Legend of Malakas and Maganda)
actions specified in the Student Handbook, absenta showing that, in
the process, it violated the students’ rights. When is a man a man and when is a woman a woman? In particular,
does the law recognize the changes made by a physician using
OSN users should be aware of the risks that they expose themselves scalpel, drugs and counseling with regard to a person’s sex? May a
to whenever they engage incyberspace activities.1âwphi1 person successfully petition for a change of name and sex appearing
Accordingly, they should be cautious enough to control their privacy in the birth certificate to reflect the result of a sex reassignment
and to exercise sound discretion regarding how much information surgery?
about themselves they are willing to give up. Internet consumers

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On November 26, 2002, petitioner Rommel Jacinto Dantes Silverio Likewise, the [c]ourt believes that no harm, injury [or]
filed a petition for the change of his first name and sex in his birth prejudice will be caused to anybody or the community in
certificate in the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 8. The granting the petition. On the contrary, granting the petition
petition, docketed as SP Case No. 02-105207, impleaded the civil would bring the much-awaited happiness on the part of
registrar of Manila as respondent. the petitioner and her [fiancé] and the realization of their
dreams.
Petitioner alleged in his petition that he was born in the City of
Manila to the spouses Melecio Petines Silverio and Anita Aquino Finally, no evidence was presented to show any cause or
Dantes on April 4, 1962. His name was registered as "Rommel Jacinto ground to deny the present petition despite due notice
Dantes Silverio" in his certificate of live birth (birth certificate). His sex and publication thereof. Even the State, through the [OSG]
was registered as "male." has not seen fit to interpose any [o]pposition.

He further alleged that he is a male transsexual, that is, "anatomically WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered GRANTING the
male but feels, thinks and acts as a female" and that he had always petition and ordering the Civil Registrar of Manila to
identified himself with girls since childhood.1 Feeling trapped in a change the entries appearing in the Certificate of Birth of
man’s body, he consulted several doctors in the United States. He [p]etitioner, specifically for petitioner’s first name from
underwent psychological examination, hormone treatment and "Rommel Jacinto" to MELY and petitioner’s gender from
breast augmentation. His attempts to transform himself to a "Male" to FEMALE. 5
"woman" culminated on January 27, 2001 when he underwent sex
reassignment surgery2 in Bangkok, Thailand. He was thereafter On August 18, 2003, the Republic of the Philippines (Republic), thru
examined by Dr. Marcelino Reysio-Cruz, Jr., a plastic and the OSG, filed a petition for certiorari in the Court of Appeals.6 It
reconstruction surgeon in the Philippines, who issued a medical alleged that there is no law allowing the change of entries in the birth
certificate attesting that he (petitioner) had in fact undergone the certificate by reason of sex alteration.
procedure.

On February 23, 2006, the Court of Appeals7 rendered a decision8 in


From then on, petitioner lived as a female and was in fact engaged to favor of the Republic. It ruled that the trial court’s decision lacked
be married. He then sought to have his name in his birth certificate legal basis. There is no law allowing the change of either name or sex
changed from "Rommel Jacinto" to "Mely," and his sex from "male" in the certificate of birth on the ground of sex reassignment through
to "female." surgery. Thus, the Court of Appeals granted the Republic’s petition,
set aside the decision of the trial court and ordered the dismissal of
An order setting the case for initial hearing was published in the SP Case No. 02-105207. Petitioner moved for reconsideration but it
People’s Journal Tonight, a newspaper of general circulation in Metro was denied.9 Hence, this petition.
Manila, for three consecutive weeks.3 Copies of the order were sent
to the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) and the civil registrar of Petitioner essentially claims that the change of his name and sex in
Manila. his birth certificate is allowed under Articles 407 to 413 of the Civil
Code, Rules 103 and 108 of the Rules of Court and RA 9048.10
On the scheduled initial hearing, jurisdictional requirements were
established. No opposition to the petition was made. The petition lacks merit.

During trial, petitioner testified for himself. He also presented Dr. A Person’s First Name Cannot Be Changed On the Ground of Sex
Reysio-Cruz, Jr. and his American fiancé, Richard P. Edel, as witnesses. Reassignment

On June 4, 2003, the trial court rendered a decision4 in favor of Petitioner invoked his sex reassignment as the ground for his petition
petitioner. Its relevant portions read: for change of name and sex. As found by the trial court:

Petitioner filed the present petition not to evade any law or Petitioner filed the present petition not to evade any law or
judgment or any infraction thereof or for any unlawful judgment or any infraction thereof or for any unlawful
motive but solely for the purpose of making his birth motive but solely for the purpose of making his birth
records compatible with his present sex. records compatible with his present sex. (emphasis
supplied)
The sole issue here is whether or not petitioner is entitled
to the relief asked for. Petitioner believes that after having acquired the physical features of
a female, he became entitled to the civil registry changes sought. We
The [c]ourt rules in the affirmative. disagree.

Firstly, the [c]ourt is of the opinion that granting the The State has an interest in the names borne by individuals and
petition would be more in consonance with the principles entities for purposes of identification.11 A change of name is a
of justice and equity. With his sexual [re-assignment], privilege, not a right.12 Petitions for change of name are controlled by
petitioner, who has always felt, thought and acted like a statutes.13 In this connection, Article 376 of the Civil Code provides:
woman, now possesses the physique of a female.
Petitioner’s misfortune to be trapped in a man’s body is ART. 376. No person can change his name or surname
not his own doing and should not be in any way taken without judicial authority.
against him.

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This Civil Code provision was amended by RA 9048 (Clerical Error registrar concerned, assuming it could be legally done. It was an
Law). In particular, Section 1 of RA 9048 provides: improper remedy because the proper remedy was administrative,
that is, that provided under RA 9048. It was also filed in the wrong
SECTION 1. Authority to Correct Clerical or Typographical venue as the proper venue was in the Office of the Civil Registrar of
Error and Change of First Name or Nickname. – No entry in Manila where his birth certificate is kept. More importantly, it had no
a civil register shall be changed or corrected without a merit since the use of his true and official name does not prejudice
judicial order, except for clerical or typographical errors him at all. For all these reasons, the Court of Appeals correctly
and change of first name or nickname which can be dismissed petitioner’s petition in so far as the change of his first
corrected or changed by the concerned city or municipal name was concerned.
civil registrar or consul general in accordance with the
provisions of this Act and its implementing rules and No Law Allows The Change of Entry In The Birth Certificate As To
regulations. Sex On the Ground of Sex Reassignment

RA 9048 now governs the change of first name.14 It vests the power The determination of a person’s sex appearing in his birth certificate
and authority to entertain petitions for change of first name to the is a legal issue and the court must look to the statutes.21 In this
city or municipal civil registrar or consul general concerned. Under connection, Article 412 of the Civil Code provides:
the law, therefore, jurisdiction over applications for change of first
name is now primarily lodged with the aforementioned ART. 412. No entry in the civil register shall be changed or
administrative officers. The intent and effect of the law is to exclude corrected without a judicial order.
the change of first name from the coverage of Rules 103 (Change of
Name) and 108 (Cancellation or Correction of Entries in the Civil
Registry) of the Rules of Court, until and unless an administrative Together with Article 376 of the Civil Code, this provision was
petition for change of name is first filed and subsequently denied.15 It amended by RA 9048 in so far as clerical or typographical errors are
likewise lays down the corresponding venue,16 form17 and procedure. involved. The correction or change of such matters can now be made
In sum, the remedy and the proceedings regulating change of first through administrative proceedings and without the need for a
name are primarily administrative in nature, not judicial. judicial order. In effect, RA 9048 removed from the ambit of Rule 108
of the Rules of Court the correction of such errors. 22 Rule 108 now
applies only to substantial changes and corrections in entries in the
RA 9048 likewise provides the grounds for which change of first civil register.23
name may be allowed:

Section 2(c) of RA 9048 defines what a "clerical or typographical


SECTION 4. Grounds for Change of First Name or Nickname. error" is:
– The petition for change of first name or nickname may be
allowed in any of the following cases:
SECTION 2. Definition of Terms. – As used in this Act, the
following terms shall mean:
(1) The petitioner finds the first name or nickname to be
ridiculous, tainted with dishonor or extremely difficult to
write or pronounce; xxx xxx xxx

(2) The new first name or nickname has been habitually (3) "Clerical or typographical error" refers to a
and continuously used by the petitioner and he has been mistake committed in the performance of clerical
publicly known by that first name or nickname in the work in writing, copying, transcribing or typing
community; or an entry in the civil register that is harmless and
innocuous, such as misspelled name or
misspelled place of birth or the like, which is
(3) The change will avoid confusion. visible to the eyes or obvious to the
understanding, and can be corrected or changed
Petitioner’s basis in praying for the change of his first name was his only by reference to other existing record or
sex reassignment. He intended to make his first name compatible records: Provided, however, That no correction
with the sex he thought he transformed himself into through surgery. must involve the change of nationality, age,
However, a change of name does not alter one’s legal capacity or civil status or sex of the petitioner. (emphasis
status.18 RA 9048 does not sanction a change of first name on the supplied)
ground of sex reassignment. Rather than avoiding confusion,
changing petitioner’s first name for his declared purpose may only Under RA 9048, a correction in the civil registry involving the change
create grave complications in the civil registry and the public interest. 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
Before a person can legally change his given name, he must present Court.
proper or reasonable cause or any compelling reason justifying such
change.19 In addition, he must show that he will be prejudiced by the The entries envisaged in Article 412 of the Civil Code and correctable
use of his true and official name.20 In this case, he failed to show, or under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court are those provided in Articles
even allege, any prejudice that he might suffer as a result of using his 407 and 408 of the Civil Code:24
true and official name.

ART. 407. Acts, events and judicial decrees concerning the


In sum, the petition in the trial court in so far as it prayed for the civil status of persons shall be recorded in the civil register.
change of petitioner’s first name was not within that court’s primary
jurisdiction as the petition should have been filed with the local civil

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ART. 408. The following shall be entered in the civil register: SEC. 5. Registration and certification of births. – The
declaration of the physician or midwife in attendance at
(1) Births; (2) marriages; (3) deaths; (4) legal separations; (5) the birth or, in default thereof, the declaration of either
annulments of marriage; (6) judgments declaring marriages parent of the newborn child, shall be sufficient for the
void from the beginning; (7) legitimations; (8) adoptions; registration of a birth in the civil register. Such declaration
(9) acknowledgments of natural children; (10) shall be exempt from documentary stamp tax and shall be
naturalization; (11) loss, or (12) recovery of citizenship; (13) sent to the local civil registrar not later than thirty days
civil interdiction; (14) judicial determination of filiation; (15) after the birth, by the physician or midwife in attendance at
voluntary emancipation of a minor; and (16) changes of the birth or by either parent of the newborn child.
name.
In such declaration, the person above mentioned shall
The acts, events or factual errors contemplated under Article 407 of certify to the following facts: (a) date and hour of birth; (b)
the Civil Code include even those that occur after birth. 25 However, sex and nationality of infant; (c) names, citizenship and
no reasonable interpretation of the provision can justify the religion of parents or, in case the father is not known, of
conclusion that it covers the correction on the ground of sex the mother alone; (d) civil status of parents; (e) place where
reassignment. the infant was born; and (f) such other data as may be
required in the regulations to be issued.

To correct simply means "to make or set aright; to remove the faults
or error from" while to change means "to replace something with xxx xxx xxx (emphasis supplied)
something else of the same kind or with something that serves as a
substitute."26 The birth certificate of petitioner contained no error. All Under the Civil Register Law, a birth certificate is a historical record of
entries therein, including those corresponding to his first name and the facts as they existed at the time of birth. 29 Thus, the sex of a
sex, were all correct. No correction is necessary. person is determined at birth, visually done by the birth attendant (the
physician or midwife) by examining the genitals of the infant.
Article 407 of the Civil Code authorizes the entry in the civil registry Considering that there is no law legally recognizing sex reassignment,
of certain acts (such as legitimations, acknowledgments of the determination of a person’s sex made at the time of his or her
illegitimate children and naturalization), events (such as births, birth, if not attended by error,30 is immutable.31
marriages, naturalization and deaths) and judicial decrees (such as
legal separations, annulments of marriage, declarations of nullity of When words are not defined in a statute they are to be given their
marriages, adoptions, naturalization, loss or recovery of citizenship, common and ordinary meaning in the absence of a contrary
civil interdiction, judicial determination of filiation and changes of legislative intent. The words "sex," "male" and "female" as used in the
name). These acts, events and judicial decrees produce legal Civil Register Law and laws concerning the civil registry (and even all
consequences that touch upon the legal capacity, status and other laws) should therefore be understood in their common and
nationality of a person. Their effects are expressly sanctioned by the ordinary usage, there being no legislative intent to the contrary. In
laws. In contrast, sex reassignment is not among those acts or events this connection, sex is defined as "the sum of peculiarities of structure
mentioned in Article 407. Neither is it recognized nor even and function that distinguish a male from a female"32 or "the
mentioned by any law, expressly or impliedly. distinction between male and female."33 Female is "the sex that
produces ova or bears young"34 and male is "the sex that has organs
"Status" refers to the circumstances affecting the legal situation (that to produce spermatozoa for fertilizing ova."35 Thus, the words "male"
is, the sum total of capacities and incapacities) of a person in view of and "female" in everyday understanding do not include persons who
his age, nationality and his family membership.27 have undergone sex reassignment. Furthermore, "words that are
employed in a statute which had at the time a well-known meaning
are presumed to have been used in that sense unless the context
The status of a person in law includes all his personal compels to the contrary."36 Since the statutory language of the Civil
qualities and relations, more or less permanent in nature, Register Law was enacted in the early 1900s and remains unchanged,
not ordinarily terminable at his own will, such as his it cannot be argued that the term "sex" as used then is something
being legitimate or illegitimate, or his being married or not. alterable through surgery or something that allows a post-operative
The comprehensive term status… include such matters as male-to-female transsexual to be included in the category "female."
the beginning and end of legal personality, capacity to
have rights in general, family relations, and its various
aspects, such as birth, legitimation, adoption, For these reasons, while petitioner may have succeeded in altering his
emancipation, marriage, divorce, and sometimes even body and appearance through the intervention of modern surgery,
succession.28 (emphasis supplied) no law authorizes the change of entry as to sex in the civil registry for
that reason. Thus, there is no legal basis for his petition for the
correction or change of the entries in his birth certificate.
A person’s sex is an essential factor in marriage and family relations.
It is a part of a person’s legal capacity and civil status. In this
connection, Article 413 of the Civil Code provides: Neither May Entries in the Birth Certificate As to First Name or
Sex Be Changed on the Ground of Equity

ART. 413. All other matters pertaining to the registration of


civil status shall be governed by special laws. The trial court opined that its grant of the petition was in consonance
with the principles of justice and equity. It believed that allowing the
petition would cause no harm, injury or prejudice to anyone. This is
But there is no such special law in the Philippines governing sex wrong.
reassignment and its effects. This is fatal to petitioner’s cause.

The changes sought by petitioner will have serious and wide-ranging


Moreover, Section 5 of Act 3753 (the Civil Register Law) provides: legal and public policy consequences. First, even the trial court itself

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found that the petition was but petitioner’s first step towards his
eventual marriage to his male fiancé. However, marriage, one of the
most sacred social institutions, is a special contract of permanent DECISION
union between a man and a woman.37 One of its essential requisites is
the legal capacity of the contracting parties who must be a male and a
female.38 To grant the changes sought by petitioner will substantially QUISUMBING, J.:
reconfigure and greatly alter the laws on marriage and family
relations. It will allow the union of a man with another man who has This is a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court
undergone sex reassignment (a male-to-female post-operative raising purely questions of law and seeking a reversal of the
transsexual). Second, there are various laws which apply particularly Decision[1] dated January 12, 2005 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC),
to women such as the provisions of the Labor Code on employment Branch 33 of Siniloan, Laguna, which granted the Petition for
of women,39 certain felonies under the Revised Penal Code40 and the Correction of Entries in Birth Certificate filed by Jennifer B.
presumption of survivorship in case of calamities under Rule 131 of Cagandahan and ordered the following changes of entries in
the Rules of Court,41 among others. These laws underscore the public Cagandahan’s birth certificate: (1) the name "Jennifer Cagandahan"
policy in relation to women which could be substantially affected if changed to "Jeff Cagandahan" and (2) gender from "female" to
petitioner’s petition were to be granted. "male."

It is true that Article 9 of the Civil Code mandates that "[n]o judge or The facts are as follows.
court shall decline to render judgment by reason of the silence,
obscurity or insufficiency of the law." However, it is not a license for On December 11, 2003, respondent Jennifer Cagandahan filed a
courts to engage in judicial legislation. The duty of the courts is to Petition for Correction of Entries in Birth Certificate2 before the RTC,
apply or interpret the law, not to make or amend it. Branch 33 of Siniloan, Laguna.

In our system of government, it is for the legislature, should it choose In her petition, she alleged that she was born on January 13, 1981
to do so, to determine what guidelines should govern the recognition and was registered as a female in the Certificate of Live Birth but
of the effects of sex reassignment. The need for legislative guidelines while growing up, she developed secondary male characteristics and
becomes particularly important in this case where the claims asserted was diagnosed to have Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH) which
are statute-based. is a condition where persons thus afflicted possess both male and
female characteristics. She further alleged that she was diagnosed to
To reiterate, the statutes define who may file petitions for change of have clitoral hyperthropy in her early years and at age six, underwent
first name and for correction or change of entries in the civil registry, an ultrasound where it was discovered that she has small ovaries. At
where they may be filed, what grounds may be invoked, what proof age thirteen, tests revealed that her ovarian structures had
must be presented and what procedures shall be observed. If the minimized, she has stopped growing and she has no breast or
legislature intends to confer on a person who has undergone sex menstrual development. She then alleged that for all interests and
reassignment the privilege to change his name and sex to conform appearances as well as in mind and emotion, she has become a male
with his reassigned sex, it has to enact legislation laying down the person. Thus, she prayed that her birth certificate be corrected such
guidelines in turn governing the conferment of that privilege. that her gender be changed from female to male and her first name
be changed from Jennifer to Jeff.
It might be theoretically possible for this Court to write a protocol on
when a person may be recognized as having successfully changed his The petition was published in a newspaper of general circulation for
sex. However, this Court has no authority to fashion a law on that three (3) consecutive weeks and was posted in conspicuous places by
matter, or on anything else. The Court cannot enact a law where no the sheriff of the court. The Solicitor General entered his appearance
law exists. It can only apply or interpret the written word of its co- and authorized the Assistant Provincial Prosecutor to appear in his
equal branch of government, Congress. behalf.

Petitioner pleads that "[t]he unfortunates are also entitled to a life of To prove her claim, respondent testified and presented the testimony
happiness, contentment and [the] realization of their dreams." No of Dr. Michael Sionzon of the Department of Psychiatry, University of
argument about that. The Court recognizes that there are people the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital. Dr. Sionzon issued a
whose preferences and orientation do not fit neatly into the medical certificate stating that respondent’s condition is known as
commonly recognized parameters of social convention and that, at CAH. He explained that genetically respondent is female but because
least for them, life is indeed an ordeal. However, the remedies her body secretes male hormones, her female organs did not develop
petitioner seeks involve questions of public policy to be addressed normally and she has two sex organs – female and male. He testified
solely by the legislature, not by the courts. that this condition is very rare, that respondent’s uterus is not fully
developed because of lack of female hormones, and that she has no
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED. monthly period. He further testified that respondent’s condition is
permanent and recommended the change of gender because
respondent has made up her mind, adjusted to her chosen role as
Costs against petitioner. SO ORDERED. male, and the gender change would be advantageous to her.

The RTC granted respondent’s petition in a Decision dated January


12, 2005 which reads:
SECOND DIVISION G.R. No. 166676 September 12, 2008
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES,Petitioner,- versus - JENNIFER B. The Court is convinced that petitioner has satisfactorily shown that he
CAGANDAHAN, is entitled to the reliefs prayed [for]. Petitioner has adequately
Respondent. presented to the Court very clear and convincing proofs for the

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granting of his petition. It was medically proven that petitioner’s body On the other hand, respondent counters that although the Local Civil
produces male hormones, and first his body as well as his action and Registrar of Pakil, Laguna was not formally named a party in the
feelings are that of a male. He has chosen to be male. He is a normal Petition for Correction of Birth Certificate, nonetheless the Local Civil
person and wants to be acknowledged and identified as a male. Registrar was furnished a copy of the Petition, the Order to publish
on December 16, 2003 and all pleadings, orders or processes in the
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Civil Register of Pakil, Laguna course of the proceedings,8 respondent is actually a male person and
is hereby ordered to make the following corrections in the birth hence his birth certificate has to be corrected to reflect his true
[c]ertificate of Jennifer Cagandahan upon payment of the prescribed sex/gender,9 change of sex or gender is allowed under Rule 108,10
fees: and respondent substantially complied with the requirements of
Rules 103 and 108 of the Rules of Court.11

a) By changing the name from Jennifer Cagandahan to JEFF


CAGANDAHAN; and Rules 103 and 108 of the Rules of Court provide:

b) By changing the gender from female to MALE. Rule 103

It is likewise ordered that petitioner’s school records, voter’s registry, CHANGE OF NAME
baptismal certificate, and other pertinent records are hereby
amended to conform with the foregoing corrected data. Section 1. Venue. – A person desiring to change his name shall
present the petition to the Regional Trial Court of the province in
SO ORDERED.[3] which he resides, [or, in the City of Manila, to the Juvenile and
Domestic Relations Court].

Thus, this petition by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) seeking
a reversal of the abovementioned ruling. 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:
The issues raised by petitioner are:

(a) That the petitioner has been a bona fide resident of the province
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN GRANTING THE PETITION where the petition is filed for at least three (3) years prior to the date
CONSIDERING THAT: of such filing;

I. (b) The cause for which the change of the petitioner's name is sought;

THE REQUIREMENTS OF RULES 103 AND 108 OF THE RULES OF (c) The name asked for.
COURT HAVE NOT BEEN COMPLIED WITH; AND,

Sec. 3. Order for hearing. – If the petition filed is sufficient in form


II. 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
CORRECTION OF ENTRY UNDER RULE 108 DOES NOT ALLOW direct that a copy of the order be published before the hearing at
CHANGE OF "SEX" OR "GENDER" IN THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE, WHILE least once a week for three (3) successive weeks in some newspaper
RESPONDENT’S MEDICAL CONDITION, i.e., CONGENITAL ADRENAL of general circulation published in the province, as the court shall
HYPERPLASIA DOES NOT MAKE HER A "MALE."4 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
Simply stated, the issue is whether the trial court erred in ordering publication of the notice.
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 Sec. 4. Hearing. – Any interested person may appear at the hearing
medical condition known as CAH, and her name from "Jennifer" to and oppose the petition. The Solicitor General or the proper
"Jeff," under Rules 103 and 108 of the Rules of Court. provincial or city fiscal shall appear on behalf of the Government of
the Republic.
The OSG contends that the petition below is fatally defective for non-
compliance with Rules 103 and 108 of the Rules of Court because Sec. 5. Judgment. – Upon satisfactory proof in open court on the date
while the local civil registrar is an indispensable party in a petition for fixed in the order that such order has been published as directed and
cancellation or correction of entries under Section 3, Rule 108 of the that the allegations of the petition are true, the court shall, if proper
Rules of Court, respondent’s petition before the court a quo did not and reasonable cause appears for changing the name of the
implead the local civil registrar.5 The OSG further contends petitioner, adjudge that such name be changed in accordance with
respondent’s petition is fatally defective since it failed to state that the prayer of the petition.
respondent is a bona fide resident of the province where the petition
was filed for at least three (3) years prior to the date of such filing as Sec. 6. Service of judgment. – Judgments or orders rendered in
mandated under Section 2(b), Rule 103 of the Rules of Court. 6 The connection with this rule shall be furnished the civil registrar of the
OSG argues that Rule 108 does not allow change of sex or gender in municipality or city where the court issuing the same is situated, who
the birth certificate and respondent’s claimed medical condition shall forthwith enter the same in the civil register.
known as CAH does not make her a male.7

Rule 108

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CANCELLATION OR CORRECTION OF ENTRIES Respondent, however, invokes Section 6,[15] Rule 1 of the Rules of
Court which states that courts shall construe the Rules liberally to
IN THE CIVIL REGISTRY 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
Section 1. Who may file petition. – Any person interested in any act, furnished a copy of the petition to the local civil registrar.
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 The determination of a person’s sex appearing in his birth certificate
Regional Trial Court of the province where the corresponding civil is a legal issue and the court must look to the statutes. In this
registry is located. connection, Article 412 of the Civil Code provides:

Sec. 2. Entries subject to cancellation or correction. – Upon good and ART. 412. No entry in a civil register shall be changed or corrected
valid grounds, the following entries in the civil register may be without a judicial order.
cancelled or corrected: (a) births; (b) marriages; (c) deaths; (d) legal
separations; (e) judgments of annulments of marriage; (f) judgments Together with Article 376[16] of the Civil Code, this provision was
declaring marriages void from the beginning; (g) legitimations; (h) amended by Republic Act No. 9048[17] in so far as clerical or
adoptions; (i) acknowledgments of natural children; (j) naturalization; typographical errors are involved. The correction or change of such
(k) election, loss or recovery of citizenship; (l) civil interdiction; (m) matters can now be made through administrative proceedings and
judicial determination of filiation; (n) voluntary emancipation of a without the need for a judicial order. In effect, Rep. Act No. 9048
minor; and (o) changes of name. removed from the ambit of Rule 108 of the Rules of Court the
correction of such errors. Rule 108 now applies only to substantial
Sec. 3. Parties. – When cancellation or correction of an entry in the changes and corrections in entries in the civil register.18
civil register is sought, the civil registrar and all persons who have or
claim any interest which would be affected thereby shall be made Under Rep. Act No. 9048, a correction in the civil registry involving
parties to the proceeding. 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
Sec. 4. Notice and publication. – Upon the filing of the petition, the the Rules of Court.19
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 The entries envisaged in Article 412 of the Civil Code and correctable
named in the petition. The court shall also cause the order to be under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court are those provided in Articles
published once a week for three (3) consecutive weeks in a 407 and 408 of the Civil Code:
newspaper of general circulation in the province.
ART. 407. Acts, events and judicial decrees concerning the civil status
Sec. 5. Opposition. – The civil registrar and any person having or of persons shall be recorded in the civil register.
claiming any interest under the entry whose cancellation or
correction is sought may, within fifteen (15) days from notice of the ART. 408. The following shall be entered in the civil register:
petition, or from the last date of publication of such notice, file his
opposition thereto.
(1) Births; (2) marriages; (3) deaths; (4) legal separations; (5)
annulments of marriage; (6) judgments declaring marriages void from
Sec. 6. Expediting proceedings. – The court in which the proceedings the beginning; (7) legitimations; (8) adoptions; (9) acknowledgments
is brought may make orders expediting the proceedings, and may of natural children; (10) naturalization; (11) loss, or (12) recovery of
also grant preliminary injunction for the preservation of the rights of citizenship; (13) civil interdiction; (14) judicial determination of
the parties pending such proceedings. filiation; (15) voluntary emancipation of a minor; and (16) changes of
name.
Sec. 7. Order. – After hearing, the court may either dismiss the
petition or issue an order granting the cancellation or correction The acts, events or factual errors contemplated under Article 407 of
prayed for. In either case, a certified copy of the judgment shall be the Civil Code include even those that occur after birth.20
served upon the civil registrar concerned who shall annotate the
same in his record.
Respondent undisputedly has CAH. This condition causes the early or
"inappropriate" appearance of male characteristics. A person, like
The OSG argues that the petition below is fatally defective for non- respondent, with this condition produces too much androgen, a male
compliance with Rules 103 and 108 of the Rules of Court because hormone. A newborn who has XX chromosomes coupled with CAH
respondent’s petition did not implead the local civil registrar. Section usually has a (1) swollen clitoris with the urethral opening at the base,
3, Rule 108 provides that the civil registrar and all persons who have an ambiguous genitalia often appearing more male than female; (2)
or claim any interest which would be affected thereby shall be made normal internal structures of the female reproductive tract such as
parties to the proceedings. Likewise, the local civil registrar is the ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes; as the child grows older, some
required to be made a party in a proceeding for the correction of features start to appear male, such as deepening of the voice, facial
name in the civil registry. He is an indispensable party without whom hair, and failure to menstruate at puberty. About 1 in 10,000 to
no final determination of the case can be had.[12] Unless all possible 18,000 children are born with CAH.
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 CAH is one of many conditions[21] that involve intersex anatomy.
respondents the civil registrar and all other persons who may have or During the twentieth century, medicine adopted the term
may claim to have any interest that would be affected thereby. 14 "intersexuality" to apply to human beings who cannot be classified as
either male or female.[22] The term is now of widespread use.

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According to Wikipedia, intersexuality "is the state of a living thing of In the absence of a law on the matter, the Court will not dictate on
a gonochoristic species whose sex chromosomes, genitalia, and/or respondent concerning a matter so innately private as one’s sexuality
secondary sex characteristics are determined to be neither exclusively and lifestyle preferences, much less on whether or not to undergo
male nor female. An organism with intersex may have biological medical treatment to reverse the male tendency due to CAH. The
characteristics of both male and female sexes." Court will not consider respondent as having erred in not choosing to
undergo treatment in order to become or remain as a female. Neither
Intersex individuals are treated in different ways by different cultures. will the Court force respondent to undergo treatment and to take
In most societies, intersex individuals have been expected to conform medication in order to fit the mold of a female, as society commonly
to either a male or female gender role.[23] Since the rise of modern currently knows this gender of the human species. Respondent is the
medical science in Western societies, some intersex people with one who has to live with his intersex anatomy. To him belongs the
ambiguous external genitalia have had their genitalia surgically human right to the pursuit of happiness and of health. Thus, to him
modified to resemble either male or female genitals.[24] More should belong the primordial choice of what courses of action to take
commonly, an intersex individual is considered as suffering from a along the path of his sexual development and maturation. In the
"disorder" which is almost always recommended to be treated, absence of evidence that respondent is an "incompetent"[27] and in
whether by surgery and/or by taking lifetime medication in order to the absence of evidence to show that classifying respondent as a
mold the individual as neatly as possible into the category of either male will harm other members of society who are equally entitled to
male or female. protection under the law, the Court affirms as valid and justified the
respondent’s position and his personal judgment of being a male.

In deciding this case, we consider the compassionate calls for


recognition of the various degrees of intersex as variations which In so ruling we do no more than give respect to (1) the diversity of
should not be subject to outright denial. "It has been suggested that nature; and (2) how an individual deals with what nature has handed
there is some middle ground between the sexes, a ‘no-man’s land’ for out. In other words, we respect respondent’s congenital condition
those individuals who are neither truly ‘male’ nor truly ‘female’."[25] and his mature decision to be a male. Life is already difficult for the
The current state of Philippine statutes apparently compels that a ordinary person. We cannot but respect how respondent deals with
person be classified either as a male or as a female, but this Court is his unordinary state and thus help make his life easier, considering
not controlled by mere appearances when nature itself fundamentally the unique circumstances in this case.
negates such rigid classification.
As for respondent’s change of name under Rule 103, this Court has
In the instant case, if we determine respondent to be a female, then held that a change of name is not a matter of right but of judicial
there is no basis for a change in the birth certificate entry for gender. discretion, to be exercised in the light of the reasons adduced and
But if we determine, based on medical testimony and scientific the consequences that will follow.[28] The trial court’s grant of
development showing the respondent to be other than female, then respondent’s change of name from Jennifer to Jeff implies a change
a change in the of a feminine name to a masculine name. Considering the
consequence that respondent’s change of name merely recognizes
his preferred gender, we find merit in respondent’s change of name.
subject’s birth certificate entry is in order. Such a change will conform with the change of the entry in his birth
certificate from female to male.
Biologically, nature endowed respondent with a mixed (neither
consistently and categorically female nor consistently and WHEREFORE, the Republic’s petition is DENIED. The Decision dated
categorically male) composition. Respondent has female (XX) January 12, 2005 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 33 of Siniloan,
chromosomes. However, respondent’s body system naturally Laguna, is AFFIRMED. No pronouncement as to costs. SO ORDERED.
produces high levels of male hormones (androgen). As a result,
respondent has ambiguous genitalia and the phenotypic features of a
male. EN BANC G.R. No. 206248 February 18, 2014

Ultimately, we are of the view that where the person is biologically or GRACE M. GRANDE, Petitioner,
naturally intersex the determining factor in his gender classification vs. PATRICIO T. ANTONIO, Respondent.
would be what the individual, like respondent, having reached the
age of majority, with good reason thinks of his/her sex. Respondent DECISION
here thinks of himself as a male and considering that his body
produces high levels of male hormones (androgen) there is
VELASCO, JR., J.:
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 Before this Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45,
such persons, like respondent, is fixed. assailing the July 24, 2012 Decision1 and March 5, 2013 Resolution2
of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 96406.

Respondent here has simply let nature take its course and has not
taken unnatural steps to arrest or interfere with what he was born As culled from the records, the facts of this case are:
with. And accordingly, he has already ordered his life to that of a
male. Respondent could have undergone treatment and taken steps, Petitioner Grace Grande (Grande) and respondent Patricio Antonio
like taking lifelong medication,[26] to force his body into the (Antonio) for a period of time lived together as husband and wife,
categorical mold of a female but he did not. He chose not to do so. although Antonio was at that time already married to someone else.3
Nature has instead taken its due course in respondent’s development Out of this illicit relationship, two sons were born: Andre Lewis (on
to reveal more fully his male characteristics. February 8, 1998) and Jerard Patrick (on October 13, 1999).4 The
children were not expressly recognized by respondent as his own in
the Record of Births of the children in the Civil Registry. The parties’

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relationship, however, eventually turned sour, and Grande left for the court modified in part the Decision of the RTC. The dispositive
United States with her two children in May 2007. This prompted portion of the CA Decision reads:
respondent Antonio to file a Petition for Judicial Approval of
Recognition with Prayer to take Parental Authority, Parental Physical WHEREFORE, the appeal is partly GRANTED. Accordingly, the
Custody, Correction/Change of Surname of Minors and for the appealed Decision of the Regional Trial Court Branch 8, Aparri
Issuance of Writ of Preliminary Injunction before the Regional Trial Cagayan in SP Proc. Case No. 11-4492 is MODIFIED in part and shall
Court, Branch 8 of Aparri, Cagayan (RTC), appending a notarized hereinafter read as follows:
Deed of Voluntary Recognition of Paternity of the children.5

a. The Offices of the Civil Registrar General and the City


On September 28, 2010, the RTC rendered a Decision in favor of Civil Registrar of Makati City are DIRECTED to enter the
herein respondent Antonio, ruling that "[t]he evidence at hand is surname Antonio as the surname of Jerard Patrick and
overwhelming that the best interest of the children can be promoted Andre Lewis, in their respective certificates of live birth, and
if they are under the sole parental authority and physical custody of record the same in the Register of Births;
[respondent Antonio]."6 Thus, the court a quo decreed the following:

b. [Antonio] is ORDERED to deliver the minor children


WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, the Court hereby Jerard Patrick and Andre Lewis to the custody of their
grants [Antonio’s] prayer for recognition and the same is hereby mother herein appellant, Grace Grande who by virtue
judicially approved. x x x Consequently, the Court forthwith issues the hereof is hereby awarded the full or sole custody of these
following Order granting the other reliefs sought in the Petition, to minor children;
wit:

c. [Antonio] shall have visitorial rights at least twice a week,


a. Ordering the Office of the City Registrar of the City of and may only take the children out upon the written
Makati to cause the entry of the name of [Antonio] as the consent of [Grande]; and
father of the aforementioned minors in their respective
Certificate of Live Birth and causing the correction/change
and/or annotation of the surnames of said minors in their d. The parties are DIRECTED to give and share in support of
Certificate of Live Birth from Grande to Antonio; the minor children Jerard Patrick and Andre Lewis in the
amount of ₱30,000.00 per month at the rate of 70% for
[Antonio] and 30% for [Grande]. (Emphasis supplied.)
b. Granting [Antonio] the right to jointly exercise Parental
Authority with [Grande] over the persons of their minor
children, Andre Lewis Grande and Jerard Patrick Grande; In ruling thus, the appellate court ratiocinated that notwithstanding
the father’s recognition of his children, the mother cannot be
deprived of her sole parental custody over them absent the most
c. Granting [Antonio] primary right and immediate custody compelling of reasons.10 Since respondent Antonio failed to prove
over the parties’ minor children Andre Lewis Grandre and that petitioner Grande committed any act that adversely affected the
Jerard Patrick Grande who shall stay with [Antonio’s] welfare of the children or rendered her unsuitable to raise the minors,
residence in the Philippines from Monday until Friday she cannot be deprived of her sole parental custody over their
evening and to [Grande’s] custody from Saturday to children.
Sunday evening;

The appellate court, however, maintained that the legal consequence


d. Ordering [Grande] to immediately surrender the persons of the recognition made by respondent Antonio that he is the father
and custody of minors Andre Lewis Grande and Jerard of the minors, taken in conjunction with the universally protected
Patrick Grande unto [Antonio] for the days covered by the "best-interest-of-the-child" clause, compels the use by the children of
Order; the surname "ANTONIO."11

e. Ordering parties to cease and desist from bringing the As to the issue of support, the CA held that the grant is legally in
aforenamed minors outside of the country, without the order considering that not only did Antonio express his willingness to
written consent of the other and permission from the give support, it is also a consequence of his acknowledging the
court. paternity of the minor children.12 Lastly, the CA ruled that there is no
reason to deprive respondent Antonio of his visitorial right especially
f. Ordering parties to give and share the support of the in view of the constitutionally inherent and natural right of parents
minor children Andre Lewis Grande and Jerard Patrick over their children.13
Grande in the amount of ₱30,000 per month at the rate of
70% for [Antonio] and 30% for [Grande].7 (Emphasis Not satisfied with the CA’s Decision, petitioner Grande interposed a
supplied.) partial motion for reconsideration, particularly assailing the order of
the CA insofar as it decreed the change of the minors’ surname to
Aggrieved, petitioner Grande moved for reconsideration. However, "Antonio." When her motion was denied, petitioner came to this
her motion was denied by the trial court in its Resolution dated Court via the present petition. In it, she posits that Article 176 of the
November 22, 20108 for being pro forma and for lack of merit. Family Code––as amended by Republic Act No. (RA) 9255, couched
as it is in permissive language––may not be invoked by a father to
Petitioner Grande then filed an appeal with the CA attributing grave compel the use by his illegitimate children of his surname without the
error on the part of the RTC for allegedly ruling contrary to the law consent of their mother.
and jurisprudence respecting the grant of sole custody to the mother
over her illegitimate children.9 In resolving the appeal, the appellate We find the present petition impressed with merit.

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The sole issue at hand is the right of a father to compel the use of his Nothing is more settled than that when the law is clear and free from
surname by his illegitimate children upon his recognition of their ambiguity, it must be taken to mean what it says and it must be given
filiation. Central to the core issue is the application of Art. 176 of the its literal meaning free from any interpretation.16 Respondent’s
Family Code, originally phrased as follows: position that the court can order the minors to use his surname,
therefore, has no legal basis.
Illegitimate children shall use the surname and shall be under the
parental authority of their mother, and shall be entitled to support in On its face, Art. 176, as amended, is free from ambiguity. And where
conformity with this Code. The legitime of each illegitimate child shall there is no ambiguity, one must abide by its words. The use of the
consist of one-half of the legitime of a legitimate child. Except for this word "may" in the provision readily shows that an acknowledged
modification, all other provisions in the Civil Code governing illegitimate child is under no compulsion to use the surname of his
successional rights shall remain in force. illegitimate father. The word "may" is permissive and operates to
confer discretion17 upon the illegitimate children.
This provision was later amended on March 19, 2004 by RA 925514
which now reads: It is best to emphasize once again that the yardstick by which policies
affecting children are to be measured is their best interest. On the
Art. 176. – Illegitimate children shall use the surname and shall be matter of children’s surnames, this Court has, time and again,
under the parental authority of their mother, and shall be entitled to rebuffed the idea that the use of the father’s surname serves the best
support in conformity with this Code. However, illegitimate children interest of the minor child. In Alfon v. Republic,18 for instance, this
may use the surname of their father if their filiation has been Court allowed even a legitimate child to continue using the surname
expressly recognized by their father through the record of birth of her mother rather than that of her legitimate father as it serves her
appearing in the civil register, or when an admission in a public best interest and there is no legal obstacle to prevent her from using
document or private handwritten instrument is made by the father. the surname of her mother to which she is entitled. In fact, in
Provided, the father has the right to institute an action before the Calderon v. Republic,19 this Court, upholding the best interest of the
regular courts to prove non-filiation during his lifetime. The legitime child concerned, even allowed the use of a surname different from
of each illegitimate child shall consist of one-half of the legitime of a the surnames of the child’s father or mother. Indeed, the rule
legitimate child. (Emphasis supplied.) regarding the use of a child’s surname is second only to the rule
requiring that the child be placed in the best possible situation
considering his circumstances.
From the foregoing provisions, it is clear that the general rule is that
an illegitimate child shall use the surname of his or her mother. The
exception provided by RA 9255 is, in case his or her filiation is In Republic of the Philippines v. Capote,20 We gave due deference to
expressly recognized by the father through the record of birth the choice of an illegitimate minor to use the surname of his mother
appearing in the civil register or when an admission in a public as it would best serve his interest, thus:
document or private handwritten instrument is made by the father. In
such a situation, the illegitimate child may use the surname of the The foregoing discussion establishes the significant connection of a
father. person’s name to his identity, his status in relation to his parents and
his successional rights as a legitimate or illegitimate child. For sure,
In the case at bar, respondent filed a petition for judicial approval of these matters should not be taken lightly as to deprive those who
recognition of the filiation of the two children with the prayer for the may, in any way, be affected by the right to present evidence in favor
correction or change of the surname of the minors from Grande to of or against such change.
Antonio when a public document acknowledged before a notary
public under Sec. 19, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court15 is enough to The law and facts obtaining here favor Giovanni’s petition. Giovanni
establish the paternity of his children. But he wanted more: a judicial availed of the proper remedy, a petition for change of name under
conferment of parental authority, parental custody, and an official Rule 103 of the Rules of Court, and complied with all the procedural
declaration of his children’s surname as Antonio. requirements. After hearing, the trial court found (and the appellate
court affirmed) that the evidence presented during the hearing of
Parental authority over minor children is lodged by Art. 176 on the Giovanni’s petition sufficiently established that, under Art. 176 of the
mother; hence, respondent’s prayer has no legal mooring. Since Civil Code, Giovanni is entitled to change his name as he was never
parental authority is given to the mother, then custody over the recognized by his father while his mother has always recognized him
minor children also goes to the mother, unless she is shown to be as her child. A change of name will erase the impression that he was
unfit. ever recognized by his father. It is also to his best interest as it will
facilitate his mother’s intended petition to have him join her in the
United States. This Court will not stand in the way of the reunification
Now comes the matter of the change of surname of the illegitimate of mother and son. (Emphasis supplied.)
children. Is there a legal basis for the court a quo to order the change
of the surname to that of respondent?
An argument, however, may be advanced advocating the mandatory
use of the father’s surname upon his recognition of his illegitimate
Clearly, there is none. Otherwise, the order or ruling will contravene children, citing the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of RA
the explicit and unequivocal provision of Art. 176 of the Family Code, 9255,21 which states:
as amended by RA 9255.

Rule 7. Requirements for the Child to Use the Surname of the Father
Art. 176 gives illegitimate children the right to decide if they want to
use the surname of their father or not. It is not the father (herein
respondent) or the mother (herein petitioner) who is granted by law 7.1 For Births Not Yet Registered
the right to dictate the surname of their illegitimate children.

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7.1.1 The illegitimate child shall use the surname of the father if a Nonetheless, the hornbook rule is that an administrative issuance
public document is executed by the father, either at the back of the cannot amend a legislative act. In MCC Industrial Sales Corp. v.
Certificate of Live Birth or in a separate document. Ssangyong Corporation,22 We held:

7.1.2 If admission of paternity is made through a private instrument, After all, the power of administrative officials to promulgate rules in
the child shall use the surname of the father, provided the the implementation of a statute is necessarily limited to what is found
registration is supported by the following documents: in the legislative enactment itself. The implementing rules and
regulations of a law cannot extend the law or expand its coverage, as
xxxx the power to amend or repeal a statute is vested in the Legislature.
Thus, if a discrepancy occurs between the basic law and an
implementing rule or regulation, it is the former that prevails,
7.2. For Births Previously Registered under the Surname of the because the law cannot be broadened by a mere administrative
Mother issuance — an administrative agency certainly cannot amend an act
of Congress.
7.2.1 If filiation has been expressly recognized by the father, the child
shall use the surname of the father upon the submission of the Thus, We can disregard contemporaneous construction where there
accomplished AUSF [Affidavit of Use of the Surname of the Father]. is no ambiguity in law and/or the construction is clearly erroneous.23
What is more, this Court has the constitutional prerogative and
7.2.2 If filiation has not been expressly recognized by the father, the authority to strike down and declare as void the rules of procedure of
child shall use the surname of the father upon submission of a public special courts and quasi- judicial bodies24 when found contrary to
document or a private handwritten instrument supported by the statutes and/or the Constitution.25 Section 5(5), Art. VIII of the
documents listed in Rule 7.1.2. Constitution provides:

7.3 Except in Item 7.2.1, the consent of the illegitimate child is Sec. 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers:
required if he/she has reached the age of majority. The consent may
be contained in a separate instrument duly notarized. xxxx

xxxx (5) Promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of


constitutional rights, pleading, practice and procedure in all courts,
Rule 8. Effects of Recognition the admission to the practice of law, the Integrated Bar, and legal
assistance to the underprivileged. Such rules shall provide a
8.1 For Births Not Yet Registered simplified and inexpensive procedure for the speedy disposition of
cases, shall be uniform for all courts of the same grade, and shall not
diminish, increase, or modify substantive rights. Rules of procedure of
8.1.1 The surname of the father shall be entered as the last name of
special courts and quasi-judicial bodies shall remain effective unless
the child in the Certificate of Live Birth. The Certificate of Live Birth
disapproved by the Supreme Court. (Emphasis supplied.)
shall be recorded in the Register of Births.

Thus, We exercise this power in voiding the above-quoted provisions


xxxx
of the IRR of RA 9255 insofar as it provides the mandatory use by
illegitimate children of their father’s surname upon the latter’s
8.2 For Births Previously Registered under the Surname of the Mother recognition of his paternity.

8.2.1 If admission of paternity was made either at the back of the To conclude, the use of the word "shall" in the IRR of RA 9255 is of no
Certificate of Live Birth or in a separate public document or in a moment. The clear, unambiguous, and unequivocal use of "may" in
private handwritten document, the public document or AUSF shall be Art. 176 rendering the use of an illegitimate father’s surname
recorded in the Register of Live Birth and the Register of Births as discretionary controls, and illegitimate children are given the choice
follows: on the surnames by which they will be known.

"The surname of the child is hereby changed from (original surname) At this juncture, We take note of the letters submitted by the
to (new surname) pursuant to RA 9255." children, now aged thirteen (13) and fifteen (15) years old, to this
Court declaring their opposition to have their names changed to
The original surname of the child appearing in the Certificate of Live "Antonio."26 However, since these letters were not offered before
Birth and Register of Births shall not be changed or deleted. and evaluated by the trial court, they do not provide any evidentiary
weight to sway this Court to rule for or against petitioner.27 A proper
inquiry into, and evaluation of the evidence of, the children's choice
8.2.2 If filiation was not expressly recognized at the time of
of surname by the trial court is necessary.
registration, the public document or AUSF shall be recorded in the
Register of Legal Instruments. Proper annotation shall be made in the
Certificate of Live Birth and the Register of Births as follows: WHEREFORE, the instant petition is PARTIALLY GRANTED. The July 24,
2012 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 96406 is
MODIFIED, the dispositive portion of which shall read:
"Acknowledged by (name of father) on (date). The surname of the
child is hereby changed from (original surname) on (date) pursuant to
RA 9255." (Emphasis supplied.) WHEREFORE, the appeal is partly GRANTED. Accordingly. the
appealed Decision of the Regional Trial Court Branch 8, Aparri

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Cagayan in SP Proc. Case No. 11-4492 is MODIFIED in part and shall supposed solemnizing officer, at the time the marriage was allegedly
hereinafter read as follows: celebrated, because she was then in Makati working as a medical
distributor in Hansao Pharma. She completely denied having known
a. [Antonio] is ORDERED to deliver the minor children the supposed husband, but she revealed that she recognized the
Jerard Patrick and Andre Lewis to the custody of their named witnesses to the marriage as she had met them while she was
mother herein appellant, Grace Grande who by virtue working as a receptionist in Tadels Pension House. She believed that
hereof is hereby awarded the full or sole custody of these her name was used by a certain Johnny Singh, who owned a travel
minor children; agency, whom she gave her personal circumstances in order for her
to obtain a passport.6 Respondent also presented as witness a
certain Eufrocina Natinga, an employee of MTCC, Branch 1, who
b. [Antonio] shall have visitation rights28 at least twice a confirmed that the marriage of Ye Son Sune was indeed celebrated in
week, and may only take the children out upon the written their office, but claimed that the alleged wife who appeared was
consent of [Grande]: definitely not respondent.7 Lastly, a document examiner testified that
the signature appearing in the marriage contract was forged.8
c. The parties are DIRECTED to give and share in support of
the minor children Jerard Patrick and Andre Lewis in the On May 5, 2009, the RTC rendered the assailed Decision, the
amount of ₱30,000.00 per month at the rate of 70% for dispositive portion of which reads:
[Antonio] and 30% for [Grande]; and

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered, the petition is granted in


d. The case is REMANDED to the Regional Trial Court, favor of the petitioner, Merlinda L. Olaybar. The Local Civil Registrar
Branch 8 of Aparri, Cagayan for the sole purpose of of Cebu City is directed to cancel all the entries in the WIFE portion of
determining the surname to be chosen by the children the alleged marriage contract of the petitioner and respondent Ye
Jerard Patrick and Andre Lewis. Son Sune. SO ORDERED.9

Rule 7 and Rule 8 of the Office of the Civil Registrar General Finding that the signature appearing in the subject marriage contract
Administrative Order No. 1, Series of 2004 are DISAPPROVED and was not that of respondent, the court found basis in granting the
hereby declared NULL and VOID. SO ORDERED. latter’s prayer to straighten her record and rectify the terrible
mistake.10
THIRD DIVISION G.R. No. 189538 February 10, 2014
Petitioner, however, moved for the reconsideration of the assailed
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, Decision on the grounds that: (1) there was no clerical spelling,
vs. MERLINDA L. OLAYBAR, Respondent. typographical and other innocuous errors in the marriage contract for
it to fall within the provisions of Rule 108 of the Rules of Court; and
(2) granting the cancellation of all the entries in the wife portion of
DECISION
the alleged marriage contract is, in effect, declaring the marriage void
ab initio.11
PERALTA, J.:

In an Order dated August 25, 2009, the RTC denied petitioner’s


Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the motion for reconsideration couched in this wise:
Rules of Court are the Regional Trial Court1 (RTC) Decision2 dated
May 5, 2009 and Order3 dated August 25, 2009 in SP. Proc. No.
WHEREFORE, the court hereby denies the Motion for Reconsideration
16519-CEB. The assailed decision granted respondent Merlinda L.
filed by the Republic of the Philippines. Furnish copies of this order to
Olaybar's petition for cancellation of entries in the latter's marriage
the Office of the Solicitor General, the petitioner’s counsel, and all
contract; while the assailed order denied the motion for
concerned government agencies.
reconsideration filed by petitioner Republic of the Philippines
through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG).
SO ORDERED.12
The facts of the case are as follows:
Contrary to petitioner’s stand, the RTC held that it had jurisdiction to
take cognizance of cases for correction of entries even on substantial
Respondent requested from the National Statistics Office (NSO) a
errors under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court being the appropriate
Certificate of No Marriage (CENOMAR) as one of the requirements
adversary proceeding required. Considering that respondent’s
for her marriage with her boyfriend of five years. Upon receipt
identity was used by an unknown person to contract marriage with a
thereof, she discovered that she was already married to a certain Ye
Korean national, it would not be feasible for respondent to institute
Son Sune, a Korean National, on June 24, 2002, at the Office of the
an action for declaration of nullity of marriage since it is not one of
Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC), Palace of Justice. She denied
the void marriages under Articles 35 and 36 of the Family Code.13
having contracted said marriage and claimed that she did not know
the alleged husband; she did not appear before the solemnizing
officer; and, that the signature appearing in the marriage certificate is Petitioner now comes before the Court in this Petition for Review on
not hers.4 She, thus, filed a Petition for Cancellation of Entries in the Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking the reversal of
Marriage Contract, especially the entries in the wife portion thereof.5 the assailed RTC Decision and Order based on the following grounds:
Respondent impleaded the Local Civil Registrar of Cebu City, as well
as her alleged husband, as parties to the case. I.

During trial, respondent testified on her behalf and explained that


she could not have appeared before Judge Mamerto Califlores, the

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RULE 108 OF THE REVISED RULES OF COURT APPLIES ONLY WHEN thereof to be given to the persons named in the petition.
THERE ARE ERRORS IN THE ENTRIES SOUGHT TO BE CANCELLED OR The court shall also cause the order to be published once a
CORRECTED. week for three (3) consecutive weeks in a newspaper of
general circulation in the province.
II.
SEC. 5. Opposition. – The civil registrar and any person
GRANTING THE CANCELLATION OF "ALL THE ENTRIES IN THE WIFE having or claiming any interest under the entry whose
PORTION OF THE ALLEGED MARRIAGE CONTRACT," IS IN EFFECT cancellation or correction is sought may, within fifteen (15)
DECLARING THE MARRIAGE VOID AB INITIO.14 days from notice of the petition, or from the last date of
publication of such notice, file his opposition thereto.

Petitioner claims that there are no errors in the entries sought to be


cancelled or corrected, because the entries made in the certificate of SEC. 6. Expediting proceedings. – The court in which the
marriage are the ones provided by the person who appeared and proceedings is brought may make orders expediting the
represented herself as Merlinda L. Olaybar and are, in fact, the latter’s proceedings, and may also grant preliminary injunction for
personal circumstances.15 In directing the cancellation of the entries the preservation of the rights of the parties pending such
in the wife portion of the certificate of marriage, the RTC, in effect, proceedings.
declared the marriage null and void ab initio.16 Thus, the petition
instituted by respondent is actually a petition for declaration of SEC. 7. Order. – After hearing, the court may either dismiss
nullity of marriage in the guise of a Rule 108 proceeding.17 the petition or issue an order granting the cancellation or
correction prayed for. In either case, a certified copy of the
We deny the petition. judgment shall be served upon the civil registrar concerned
who shall annotate the same in his record.

At the outset, it is necessary to stress that a direct recourse to this


Court from the decisions and final orders of the RTC may be taken Rule 108 of the Rules of Court provides the procedure for
where only questions of law are raised or involved. There is a cancellation or correction of entries in the civil registry. The
question of law when the doubt arises as to what the law is on a proceedings may either be summary or adversary. If the correction is
certain state of facts, which does not call for the examination of the clerical, then the procedure to be adopted is summary. If the
probative value of the evidence of the parties.18 Here, the issue rectification affects the civil status, citizenship or nationality of a
raised by petitioner is whether or not the cancellation of entries in party, it is deemed substantial, and the procedure to be adopted is
the marriage contract which, in effect, nullifies the marriage may be adversary. Since the promulgation of Republic v. Valencia19 in 1986,
undertaken in a Rule 108 proceeding. Verily, petitioner raised a pure the Court has repeatedly ruled that "even substantial errors in a civil
question of law. registry may be corrected through a petition filed under Rule 108,
with the true facts established and the parties aggrieved by the error
availing themselves of the appropriate adversarial proceeding."20 An
Rule 108 of the Rules of Court sets forth the rules on cancellation or appropriate adversary suit or proceeding is one where the trial court
correction of entries in the civil registry, to wit: has conducted proceedings where all relevant facts have been fully
and properly developed, where opposing counsel have been given
SEC. 1. Who may file petition. – Any person interested in opportunity to demolish the opposite party’s case, and where the
any act, event, order or decree concerning the civil status evidence has been thoroughly weighed and considered.21
of persons which has been recorded in the civil register,
may file a verified petition for the cancellation or correction It is true that in special proceedings, formal pleadings and a hearing
of any entry relating thereto, with the Regional Trial Court may be dispensed with, and the remedy [is] granted upon mere
of the province where the corresponding civil registry is application or motion. However, a special proceeding is not always
located. summary. The procedure laid down in Rule 108 is not a summary
proceeding per se. It requires publication of the petition; it mandates
SEC. 2. Entries subject to cancellation or correction. – Upon the inclusion as parties of all persons who may claim interest which
good and valid grounds, the following entries in the civil would be affected by the cancellation or correction; it also requires
register may be cancelled or corrected: (a) births; (b) the civil registrar and any person in interest to file their opposition, if
marriages; (c) deaths; (d) legal separations; (e) judgments any; and it states that although the court may make orders
of annulments of marriage; (f) judgments declaring expediting the proceedings, it is after hearing that the court shall
marriages void from the beginning; (g) legitimations; (h) either dismiss the petition or issue an order granting the same. Thus,
adoptions; (i) acknowledgments of natural children; (j) as long as the procedural requirements in Rule 108 are followed, it is
naturalization; (k) election, loss or recovery of citizenship; (l) the appropriate adversary proceeding to effect substantial
civil interdiction; (m) judicial determination of filiation; (n) corrections and changes in entries of the civil register.22
voluntary emancipation of a minor; and (o) changes of
name. In this case, the entries made in the wife portion of the certificate of
marriage are admittedly the personal circumstances of respondent.
SEC. 3. Parties. – When cancellation or correction of an The latter, however, claims that her signature was forged and she was
entry in the civil register is sought, the civil registrar and all not the one who contracted marriage with the purported husband. In
persons who have or claim any interest which would be other words, she claims that no such marriage was entered into or if
affected thereby shall be made parties to the proceeding. there was, she was not the one who entered into such contract. It
must be recalled that when respondent tried to obtain a CENOMAR
SEC. 4. Notice and Publication. – Upon the filing of the from the NSO, it appeared that she was married to a certain Ye Son
petition, the court shall, by an order, fix the time and place Sune. She then sought the cancellation of entries in the wife portion
for the hearing of the same, and cause reasonable notice of the marriage certificate.

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In filing the petition for correction of entry under Rule 108, SECOND DIVISION G.R. No. 196049 June 26, 2013
respondent made the Local Civil Registrar of Cebu City, as well as her
alleged husband Ye Son Sune, as parties-respondents. It is likewise MINORU FUJIKI, PETITIONER,
undisputed that the procedural requirements set forth in Rule 108 vs. MARIA PAZ GALELA MARINAY, SHINICHI MAEKARA, LOCAL
were complied with. The Office of the Solicitor General was likewise CIVIL REGISTRAR OF QUEZON CITY, AND THE ADMINISTRATOR
notified of the petition which in turn authorized the Office of the City AND CIVIL REGISTRAR GENERAL OF THE NATIONAL STATISTICS
Prosecutor to participate in the proceedings. More importantly, trial OFFICE, RESPONDENTS.
was conducted where respondent herself, the stenographer of the
court where the alleged marriage was conducted, as well as a
document examiner, testified. Several documents were also DECISION
considered as evidence. With the testimonies and other evidence
presented, the trial court found that the signature appearing in the CARPIO, J.:
subject marriage certificate was different from respondent’s signature
appearing in some of her government issued identification cards.23 The Case
The court thus made a categorical conclusion that respondent’s
signature in the marriage certificate was not hers and, therefore, was
This is a direct recourse to this Court from the Regional Trial Court
forged. Clearly, it was established that, as she claimed in her petition,
(RTC), Branch 107, Quezon City, through a petition for review on
no such marriage was celebrated.
certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court on a pure question of
law. The petition assails the Order1 dated 31 January 2011 of the RTC
Indeed the Court made a pronouncement in the recent case of in Civil Case No. Q-11-68582 and its Resolution dated 2 March 2011
Minoru Fujiki v. Maria Paz Galela Marinay, Shinichi Maekara, Local denying petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration. The RTC dismissed
Civil Registrar of Quezon City, and the Administrator and Civil the petition for "Judicial Recognition of Foreign Judgment (or Decree
Registrar General of the National Statistics Office24 that: of Absolute Nullity of Marriage)" based on improper venue and the
lack of personality of petitioner, Minoru Fujiki, to file the petition.
To be sure, a petition for correction or cancellation of an entry in the
civil registry cannot substitute for an action to invalidate a marriage. The Facts
A direct action is necessary to prevent circumvention of the
substantive and procedural safeguards of marriage under the Family
Petitioner Minoru Fujiki (Fujiki) is a Japanese national who married
Code, A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC and other related laws. Among these
respondent Maria Paz Galela Marinay (Marinay) in the Philippines2 on
safeguards are the requirement of proving the limited grounds for
23 January 2004. The marriage did not sit well with petitioner’s
the dissolution of marriage, support pendente lite of the spouses and
parents. Thus, Fujiki could not bring his wife to Japan where he
children, the liquidation, partition and distribution of the properties
resides. Eventually, they lost contact with each other.
of the spouses and the investigation of the public prosecutor to
determine collusion. A direct action for declaration of nullity or
annulment of marriage is also necessary to prevent circumvention of In 2008, Marinay met another Japanese, Shinichi Maekara (Maekara).
the jurisdiction of the Family Courts under the Family Courts Act of Without the first marriage being dissolved, Marinay and Maekara
1997 (Republic Act No. 8369), as a petition for cancellation or were married on 15 May 2008 in Quezon City, Philippines. Maekara
correction of entries in the civil registry may be filed in the Regional brought Marinay to Japan. However, Marinay allegedly suffered
Trial Court where the corresponding civil registry is located. In other physical abuse from Maekara. She left Maekara and started to
words, a Filipino citizen cannot dissolve his marriage by the mere contact Fujiki.3
expedient of changing his entry of marriage in the civil registry.
Fujiki and Marinay met in Japan and they were able to reestablish
Aside from the certificate of marriage, no such evidence was their relationship. In 2010, Fujiki helped Marinay obtain a judgment
presented to show the existence of marriage.1âwphi1 Rather, from a family court in Japan which declared the marriage between
respondent showed by overwhelming evidence that no marriage was Marinay and Maekara void on the ground of bigamy.4 On 14 January
entered into and that she was not even aware of such existence. The 2011, Fujiki filed a petition in the RTC entitled: "Judicial Recognition
testimonial and documentary evidence clearly established that the of Foreign Judgment (or Decree of Absolute Nullity of Marriage)."
only "evidence" of marriage which is the marriage certificate was a Fujiki prayed that (1) the Japanese Family Court judgment be
forgery. While we maintain that Rule 108 cannot be availed of to recognized; (2) that the bigamous marriage between Marinay and
determine the validity of marriage, we cannot nullify the proceedings Maekara be declared void ab initio under Articles 35(4) and 41 of the
before the trial court where all the parties had been given the Family Code of the Philippines;5 and (3) for the RTC to direct the Local
opportunity to contest the allegations of respondent; the procedures Civil Registrar of Quezon City to annotate the Japanese Family Court
were followed, and all the evidence of the parties had already been judgment on the Certificate of Marriage between Marinay and
admitted and examined. Respondent indeed sought, not the Maekara and to endorse such annotation to the Office of the
nullification of marriage as there was no marriage to speak of, but the Administrator and Civil Registrar General in the National Statistics
correction of the record of such marriage to reflect the truth as set Office (NSO).6
forth by the evidence. Otherwise stated, in allowing the correction of
the subject certificate of marriage by cancelling the wife portion The Ruling of the Regional Trial Court
thereof, the trial court did not, in any way, declare the marriage void
as there was no marriage to speak of.
A few days after the filing of the petition, the RTC immediately issued
an Order dismissing the petition and withdrawing the case from its
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DENIED for lack of active civil docket.7 The RTC cited the following provisions of the Rule
merit. The Regional Trial Court Decision dated May 5, 2009 and Order on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment
dated August 25, 2009 in SP. Proc. No. 16519-CEB, are AFFIRMED. SO of Voidable Marriages (A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC):
ORDERED.

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Sec. 2. Petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages. – Fujiki’s motion for reconsideration in the RTC also asserted that the
trial court "gravely erred" when, on its own, it dismissed the petition
(a) Who may file. – A petition for declaration of absolute nullity of based on improper venue. Fujiki stated that the RTC may be
void marriage may be filed solely by the husband or the wife. confusing the concept of venue with the concept of jurisdiction,
because it is lack of jurisdiction which allows a court to dismiss a case
on its own. Fujiki cited Dacoycoy v. Intermediate Appellate Court19
xxxx which held that the "trial court cannot pre-empt the defendant’s
prerogative to object to the improper laying of the venue by motu
Sec. 4. Venue. – The petition shall be filed in the Family Court of the proprio dismissing the case."20 Moreover, petitioner alleged that the
province or city where the petitioner or the respondent has been trial court should not have "immediately dismissed" the petition
residing for at least six months prior to the date of filing, or in the under Section 5 of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC because he substantially
case of a non-resident respondent, where he may be found in the complied with the provision.
Philippines, at the election of the petitioner. x x x
On 2 March 2011, the RTC resolved to deny petitioner’s motion for
The RTC ruled, without further explanation, that the petition was in reconsideration. In its Resolution, the RTC stated that A.M. No. 02-11-
"gross violation" of the above provisions. The trial court based its 10-SC applies because the petitioner, in effect, prays for a decree of
dismissal on Section 5(4) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC which provides absolute nullity of marriage.21 The trial court reiterated its two
that "[f]ailure to comply with any of the preceding requirements may grounds for dismissal, i.e. lack of personality to sue and improper
be a ground for immediate dismissal of the petition."8 Apparently, the venue under Sections 2(a) and 4 of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC. The RTC
RTC took the view that only "the husband or the wife," in this case considered Fujiki as a "third person"22 in the proceeding because he
either Maekara or Marinay, can file the petition to declare their "is not the husband in the decree of divorce issued by the Japanese
marriage void, and not Fujiki. Family Court, which he now seeks to be judicially recognized, x x x."23
On the other hand, the RTC did not explain its ground of impropriety
Fujiki moved that the Order be reconsidered. He argued that A.M. of venue. It only said that "[a]lthough the Court cited Sec. 4 (Venue) x
No. 02-11-10-SC contemplated ordinary civil actions for declaration x x as a ground for dismissal of this case[,] it should be taken
of nullity and annulment of marriage. Thus, A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC together with the other ground cited by the Court x x x which is Sec.
does not apply. A petition for recognition of foreign judgment is a 2(a) x x x."24
special proceeding, which "seeks to establish a status, a right or a
particular fact,"9 and not a civil action which is "for the enforcement The RTC further justified its motu proprio dismissal of the petition
or protection of a right, or the prevention or redress of a wrong."10 In based on Braza v. The City Civil Registrar of Himamaylan City, Negros
other words, the petition in the RTC sought to establish (1) the status Occidental.25 The Court in Braza ruled that "[i]n a special proceeding
and concomitant rights of Fujiki and Marinay as husband and wife for correction of entry under Rule 108 (Cancellation or Correction of
and (2) the fact of the rendition of the Japanese Family Court Entries in the Original Registry), the trial court has no jurisdiction to
judgment declaring the marriage between Marinay and Maekara as nullify marriages x x x."26 Braza emphasized that the "validity of
void on the ground of bigamy. The petitioner contended that the marriages as well as legitimacy and filiation can be questioned only in
Japanese judgment was consistent with Article 35(4) of the Family a direct action seasonably filed by the proper party, and not through
Code of the Philippines11 on bigamy and was therefore entitled to a collateral attack such as [a] petition [for correction of entry] x x x."27
recognition by Philippine courts.12
The RTC considered the petition as a collateral attack on the validity
In any case, it was also Fujiki’s view that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC of marriage between Marinay and Maekara. The trial court held that
applied only to void marriages under Article 36 of the Family Code on this is a "jurisdictional ground" to dismiss the petition.28 Moreover,
the ground of psychological incapacity.13 Thus, Section 2(a) of A.M. the verification and certification against forum shopping of the
No. 02-11-10-SC provides that "a petition for declaration of absolute petition was not authenticated as required under Section 529 of A.M.
nullity of void marriages may be filed solely by the husband or the No. 02-11-10-SC. Hence, this also warranted the "immediate
wife." To apply Section 2(a) in bigamy would be absurd because only dismissal" of the petition under the same provision.
the guilty parties would be permitted to sue. In the words of Fujiki,
"[i]t is not, of course, difficult to realize that the party interested in The Manifestation and Motion of the Office of the Solicitor
having a bigamous marriage declared a nullity would be the husband General and the Letters of Marinay and Maekara
in the prior, pre-existing marriage."14 Fujiki had material interest and
therefore the personality to nullify a bigamous marriage.
On 30 May 2011, the Court required respondents to file their
comment on the petition for review.30 The public respondents, the
Fujiki argued that Rule 108 (Cancellation or Correction of Entries in Local Civil Registrar of Quezon City and the Administrator and Civil
the Civil Registry) of the Rules of Court is applicable. Rule 108 is the Registrar General of the NSO, participated through the Office of the
"procedural implementation" of the Civil Register Law (Act No. Solicitor General. Instead of a comment, the Solicitor General filed a
3753)15 in relation to Article 413 of the Civil Code.16 The Civil Register Manifestation and Motion.31
Law imposes a duty on the "successful petitioner for divorce or
annulment of marriage to send a copy of the final decree of the court
to the local registrar of the municipality where the dissolved or The Solicitor General agreed with the petition. He prayed that the
annulled marriage was solemnized."17 Section 2 of Rule 108 provides RTC’s "pronouncement that the petitioner failed to comply with x x x
that entries in the civil registry relating to "marriages," "judgments of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC x x x be set aside" and that the case be
annulments of marriage" and "judgments declaring marriages void reinstated in the trial court for further proceedings.32 The Solicitor
from the beginning" are subject to cancellation or correction.18 The General argued that Fujiki, as the spouse of the first marriage, is an
petition in the RTC sought (among others) to annotate the judgment injured party who can sue to declare the bigamous marriage between
of the Japanese Family Court on the certificate of marriage between Marinay and Maekara void. The Solicitor General cited Juliano-Llave v.
Marinay and Maekara. Republic33 which held that Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC does
not apply in cases of bigamy. In Juliano-Llave, this Court explained:

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[t]he subsequent spouse may only be expected to take action if he or (3) Whether the Regional Trial Court can recognize the
she had only discovered during the connubial period that the foreign judgment in a proceeding for cancellation or
marriage was bigamous, and especially if the conjugal bliss had correction of entries in the Civil Registry under Rule 108 of
already vanished. Should parties in a subsequent marriage benefit the Rules of Court.
from the bigamous marriage, it would not be expected that they
would file an action to declare the marriage void and thus, in such The Ruling of the Court
circumstance, the "injured spouse" who should be given a legal
remedy is the one in a subsisting previous marriage. The latter is
clearly the aggrieved party as the bigamous marriage not only We grant the petition.
threatens the financial and the property ownership aspect of the prior
marriage but most of all, it causes an emotional burden to the prior The Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and
spouse. The subsequent marriage will always be a reminder of the Annulment of Voidable Marriages (A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC) does not
infidelity of the spouse and the disregard of the prior marriage which apply in a petition to recognize a foreign judgment relating to the
sanctity is protected by the Constitution.34 status of a marriage where one of the parties is a citizen of a foreign
country. Moreover, in Juliano-Llave v. Republic,47 this Court held that
The Solicitor General contended that the petition to recognize the the rule in A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC that only the husband or wife can
Japanese Family Court judgment may be made in a Rule 108 file a declaration of nullity or annulment of marriage "does not apply
proceeding.35 In Corpuz v. Santo Tomas,36 this Court held that "[t]he if the reason behind the petition is bigamy."48
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 I.
Rule 108 of the Rules of Court) is precisely to establish the status or
right of a party or a particular fact."37 While Corpuz concerned a For Philippine courts to recognize a foreign judgment relating to the
foreign divorce decree, in the present case the Japanese Family Court status of a marriage where one of the parties is a citizen of a foreign
judgment also affected the civil status of the parties, especially country, the petitioner only needs to prove the foreign judgment as a
Marinay, who is a Filipino citizen. fact under the Rules of Court. To be more specific, a copy of the
foreign judgment may be admitted in evidence and proven as a fact
The Solicitor General asserted that Rule 108 of the Rules of Court is under Rule 132, Sections 24 and 25, in relation to Rule 39, Section
the procedure to record "[a]cts, events and judicial decrees 48(b) of the Rules of Court.49 Petitioner may prove the Japanese
concerning the civil status of persons" in the civil registry as required Family Court judgment through (1) an official publication or (2) a
by Article 407 of the Civil Code. In other words, "[t]he law requires the certification or copy attested by the officer who has custody of the
entry in the civil registry of judicial decrees that produce legal judgment. If the office which has custody is in a foreign country such
consequences upon a person’s legal capacity and status x x x."38 The as Japan, the certification may be made by the proper diplomatic or
Japanese Family Court judgment directly bears on the civil status of a consular officer of the Philippine foreign service in Japan and
Filipino citizen and should therefore be proven as a fact in a Rule 108 authenticated by the seal of office.50
proceeding.
To hold that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC applies to a petition for
Moreover, the Solicitor General argued that there is no jurisdictional recognition of foreign judgment would mean that the trial court and
infirmity in assailing a void marriage under Rule 108, citing De Castro the parties should follow its provisions, including the form and
v. De Castro39 and Niñal v. Bayadog40 which declared that "[t]he contents of the petition,51 the service of summons,52 the investigation
validity of a void marriage may be collaterally attacked."41 of the public prosecutor,53 the setting of pre-trial,54 the trial55 and the
judgment of the trial court.56 This is absurd because it will litigate the
Marinay and Maekara individually sent letters to the Court to comply case anew. It will defeat the purpose of recognizing foreign
with the directive for them to comment on the petition. 42 Maekara judgments, which is "to limit repetitive litigation on claims and
wrote that Marinay concealed from him the fact that she was issues."57 The interpretation of the RTC is tantamount to relitigating
previously married to Fujiki.43 Maekara also denied that he inflicted the case on the merits. In Mijares v. Rañada,58 this Court explained
any form of violence on Marinay.44 On the other hand, Marinay wrote that "[i]f every judgment of a foreign court were reviewable on the
that she had no reason to oppose the petition.45 She would like to merits, the plaintiff would be forced back on his/her original cause of
maintain her silence for fear that anything she say might cause action, rendering immaterial the previously concluded litigation."59
misunderstanding between her and Fujiki.46
A foreign judgment relating to the status of a marriage affects the
The Issues civil status, condition and legal capacity of its parties. However, the
effect of a foreign judgment is not automatic. To extend the effect of
a foreign judgment in the Philippines, Philippine courts must
Petitioner raises the following legal issues: determine if the foreign judgment is consistent with domestic public
policy and other mandatory laws.60 Article 15 of the Civil Code
(1) Whether the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of provides that "[l]aws relating to family rights and duties, or to the
Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages status, condition and legal capacity of persons are binding upon
(A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC) is applicable. citizens of the Philippines, even though living abroad." This is the rule
of lex nationalii in private international law. Thus, the Philippine State
(2) Whether a husband or wife of a prior marriage can file a may require, for effectivity in the Philippines, recognition by
petition to recognize a foreign judgment nullifying the Philippine courts of a foreign judgment affecting its citizen, over
subsequent marriage between his or her spouse and a whom it exercises personal jurisdiction relating to the status,
foreign citizen on the ground of bigamy. condition and legal capacity of such citizen.

A petition to recognize a foreign judgment declaring a marriage void


does not require relitigation under a Philippine court of the case as if

TrinaFaye SPECPRO Review Page 71


it were a new petition for declaration of nullity of marriage. Philippine Rule 108, Section 1 of the Rules of Court states:
courts cannot presume to know the foreign laws under which the
foreign judgment was rendered. They cannot substitute their Sec. 1. Who may file petition. — Any person interested in any act,
judgment on the status, condition and legal capacity of the foreign event, order or decree concerning the civil status of persons
citizen who is under the jurisdiction of another state. Thus, Philippine which has been recorded in the civil register, may file a verified
courts can only recognize the foreign judgment as a fact according petition for the cancellation or correction of any entry relating
to the rules of evidence. thereto, with the Regional Trial Court of the province where the
corresponding civil registry is located. (Emphasis supplied)
Section 48(b), Rule 39 of the Rules of Court provides that a foreign
judgment or final order against a person creates a "presumptive Fujiki has the personality to file a petition to recognize the Japanese
evidence of a right as between the parties and their successors in Family Court judgment nullifying the marriage between Marinay and
interest by a subsequent title." Moreover, Section 48 of the Rules of Maekara on the ground of bigamy because the judgment concerns
Court states that "the judgment or final order may be repelled by his civil status as married to Marinay. For the same reason he has the
evidence of a want of jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, personality to file a petition under Rule 108 to cancel the entry of
collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact." Thus, Philippine marriage between Marinay and Maekara in the civil registry on the
courts exercise limited review on foreign judgments. Courts are not basis of the decree of the Japanese Family Court.
allowed to delve into the merits of a foreign judgment. Once a
foreign judgment is admitted and proven in a Philippine court, it can
only be repelled on grounds external to its merits, i.e. , "want of There is no doubt that the prior spouse has a personal and material
jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear interest in maintaining the integrity of the marriage he contracted
mistake of law or fact." The rule on limited review embodies the and the property relations arising from it. There is also no doubt that
policy of efficiency and the protection of party expectations,61 as well he is interested in the cancellation of an entry of a bigamous
as respecting the jurisdiction of other states.62 marriage in the civil registry, which compromises the public record of
his marriage. The interest derives from the substantive right of the
spouse not only to preserve (or dissolve, in limited instances68) his
Since 1922 in Adong v. Cheong Seng Gee,63 Philippine courts have most intimate human relation, but also to protect his property
recognized foreign divorce decrees between a Filipino and a foreign interests that arise by operation of law the moment he contracts
citizen if they are successfully proven under the rules of evidence. 64 marriage.69 These property interests in marriage include the right to
Divorce involves the dissolution of a marriage, but the recognition of be supported "in keeping with the financial capacity of the family"70
a foreign divorce decree does not involve the extended procedure and preserving the property regime of the marriage.71
under A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC or the rules of ordinary trial. While the
Philippines does not have a divorce law, Philippine courts may,
however, recognize a foreign divorce decree under the second Property rights are already substantive rights protected by the
paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, to capacitate a Filipino Constitution,72 but a spouse’s right in a marriage extends further to
citizen to remarry when his or her foreign spouse obtained a divorce relational rights recognized under Title III ("Rights and Obligations
decree abroad.65 between Husband and Wife") of the Family Code.73 A.M. No. 02-11-
10-SC cannot "diminish, increase, or modify" the substantive right of
the spouse to maintain the integrity of his marriage.74 In any case,
There is therefore no reason to disallow Fujiki to simply prove as a Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC preserves this substantive right
fact the Japanese Family Court judgment nullifying the marriage by limiting the personality to sue to the husband or the wife of the
between Marinay and Maekara on the ground of bigamy. While the union recognized by law.
Philippines has no divorce law, the Japanese Family Court judgment
is fully consistent with Philippine public policy, as bigamous
marriages are declared void from the beginning under Article 35(4) of Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC does not preclude a spouse of a
the Family Code. Bigamy is a crime under Article 349 of the Revised subsisting marriage to question the validity of a subsequent marriage
Penal Code. Thus, Fujiki can prove the existence of the Japanese on the ground of bigamy. On the contrary, when Section 2(a) states
Family Court judgment in accordance with Rule 132, Sections 24 and that "[a] petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage
25, in relation to Rule 39, Section 48(b) of the Rules of Court. may be filed solely by the husband or the wife"75—it refers to the
husband or the wife of the subsisting marriage. Under Article 35(4) of
the Family Code, bigamous marriages are void from the beginning.
II. Thus, the parties in a bigamous marriage are neither the husband nor
the wife under the law. The husband or the wife of the prior
Since the recognition of a foreign judgment only requires proof of subsisting marriage is the one who has the personality to file a
fact of the judgment, it may be made in a special proceeding for petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage under
cancellation or correction of entries in the civil registry under Rule Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC.
108 of the Rules of Court. Rule 1, Section 3 of the Rules of Court
provides that "[a] special proceeding is a remedy by which a party Article 35(4) of the Family Code, which declares bigamous marriages
seeks to establish a status, a right, or a particular fact." Rule 108 void from the beginning, is the civil aspect of Article 349 of the
creates a remedy to rectify facts of a person’s life which are recorded Revised Penal Code,76 which penalizes bigamy. Bigamy is a public
by the State pursuant to the Civil Register Law or Act No. 3753. These crime. Thus, anyone can initiate prosecution for bigamy because any
are facts of public consequence such as birth, death or marriage,66 citizen has an interest in the prosecution and prevention of crimes.77
which the State has an interest in recording. As noted by the Solicitor If anyone can file a criminal action which leads to the declaration of
General, in Corpuz v. Sto. Tomas this Court declared that "[t]he nullity of a bigamous marriage,78 there is more reason to confer
recognition of the foreign divorce decree may be made in a Rule 108 personality to sue on the husband or the wife of a subsisting
proceeding itself, as the object of special proceedings (such as that in marriage. The prior spouse does not only share in the public interest
Rule 108 of the Rules of Court) is precisely to establish the status or of prosecuting and preventing crimes, he is also personally interested
right of a party or a particular fact."67 in the purely civil aspect of protecting his marriage.

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When the right of the spouse to protect his marriage is violated, the without undergoing trial to determine the validity of the dissolution
spouse is clearly an injured party and is therefore interested in the of the marriage. The second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family
judgment of the suit.79 Juliano-Llave ruled that the prior spouse "is Code provides that "[w]here a marriage between a Filipino citizen and
clearly the aggrieved party as the bigamous marriage not only a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly
threatens the financial and the property ownership aspect of the prior obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to
marriage but most of all, it causes an emotional burden to the prior remarry, the Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry under
spouse."80 Being a real party in interest, the prior spouse is entitled to Philippine law." In Republic v. Orbecido,88 this Court recognized the
sue in order to declare a bigamous marriage void. For this purpose, legislative intent of the second paragraph of Article 26 which is "to
he can petition a court to recognize a foreign judgment nullifying the avoid the absurd situation where the Filipino spouse remains married
bigamous marriage and judicially declare as a fact that such to the alien spouse who, after obtaining a divorce, is no longer
judgment is effective in the Philippines. Once established, there married to the Filipino spouse"89 under the laws of his or her country.
should be no more impediment to cancel the entry of the bigamous The second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code only
marriage in the civil registry. authorizes Philippine courts to adopt the effects of a foreign divorce
decree precisely because the Philippines does not allow divorce.
III. Philippine courts cannot try the case on the merits because it is
tantamount to trying a case for divorce.

In Braza v. The City Civil Registrar of Himamaylan City, Negros


Occidental, this Court held that a "trial court has no jurisdiction to The second paragraph of Article 26 is only a corrective measure to
nullify marriages" in a special proceeding for cancellation or address the anomaly that results from a marriage between a Filipino,
correction of entry under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court.81 Thus, the whose laws do not allow divorce, and a foreign citizen, whose laws
"validity of marriage[] x x x can be questioned only in a direct action" allow divorce. The anomaly consists in the Filipino spouse being tied
to nullify the marriage.82 The RTC relied on Braza in dismissing the to the marriage while the foreign spouse is free to marry under the
petition for recognition of foreign judgment as a collateral attack on laws of his or her country. The correction is made by extending in the
the marriage between Marinay and Maekara. Philippines the effect of the foreign divorce decree, which is already
effective in the country where it was rendered. The second paragraph
of Article 26 of the Family Code is based on this Court’s decision in
Braza is not applicable because Braza does not involve a recognition Van Dorn v. Romillo90 which declared that the Filipino spouse "should
of a foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage where one of not be discriminated against in her own country if the ends of justice
the parties is a citizen of the foreign country. are to be served."91

To be sure, a petition for correction or cancellation of an entry in the The principle in Article 26 of the Family Code applies in a marriage
civil registry cannot substitute for an action to invalidate a marriage. between a Filipino and a foreign citizen who obtains a foreign
A direct action is necessary to prevent circumvention of the judgment nullifying the marriage on the ground of bigamy. The
substantive and procedural safeguards of marriage under the Family Filipino spouse may file a petition abroad to declare the marriage
Code, A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC and other related laws. Among these void on the ground of bigamy. The principle in the second paragraph
safeguards are the requirement of proving the limited grounds for of Article 26 of the Family Code applies because the foreign spouse,
the dissolution of marriage,83 support pendente lite of the spouses after the foreign judgment nullifying the marriage, is capacitated to
and children,84 the liquidation, partition and distribution of the remarry under the laws of his or her country. If the foreign judgment
properties of the spouses,85 and the investigation of the public is not recognized in the Philippines, the Filipino spouse will be
prosecutor to determine collusion.86 A direct action for declaration of discriminated—the foreign spouse can remarry while the Filipino
nullity or annulment of marriage is also necessary to prevent spouse cannot remarry.
circumvention of the jurisdiction of the Family Courts under the
Family Courts Act of 1997 (Republic Act No. 8369), as a petition for
cancellation or correction of entries in the civil registry may be filed in Under the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code,
the Regional Trial Court "where the corresponding civil registry is Philippine courts are empowered to correct a situation where the
located."87 In other words, a Filipino citizen cannot dissolve his Filipino spouse is still tied to the marriage while the foreign spouse is
marriage by the mere expedient of changing his entry of marriage in free to marry. Moreover, notwithstanding Article 26 of the Family
the civil registry. Code, Philippine courts already have jurisdiction to extend the effect
of a foreign judgment in the Philippines to the extent that the foreign
judgment does not contravene domestic public policy. A critical
However, this does not apply in a petition for correction or difference between the case of a foreign divorce decree and a foreign
cancellation of a civil registry entry based on the recognition of a judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage is that bigamy, as a ground
foreign judgment annulling a marriage where one of the parties is a for the nullity of marriage, is fully consistent with Philippine public
citizen of the foreign country. There is neither circumvention of the policy as expressed in Article 35(4) of the Family Code and Article 349
substantive and procedural safeguards of marriage under Philippine of the Revised Penal Code. The Filipino spouse has the option to
law, nor of the jurisdiction of Family Courts under R.A. No. 8369. A undergo full trial by filing a petition for declaration of nullity of
recognition of a foreign judgment is not an action to nullify a marriage under A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, but this is not the only remedy
marriage. It is an action for Philippine courts to recognize the available to him or her. Philippine courts have jurisdiction to
effectivity of a foreign judgment, which presupposes a case which recognize a foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage,
was already tried and decided under foreign law. The procedure in without prejudice to a criminal prosecution for bigamy.
A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC does not apply in a petition to recognize a
foreign judgment annulling a bigamous marriage where one of the
parties is a citizen of the foreign country. Neither can R.A. No. 8369 In the recognition of foreign judgments, Philippine courts are
define the jurisdiction of the foreign court. incompetent to substitute their judgment on how a case was decided
under foreign law. They cannot decide on the "family rights and
duties, or on the status, condition and legal capacity" of the foreign
Article 26 of the Family Code confers jurisdiction on Philippine courts citizen who is a party to the foreign judgment. Thus, Philippine courts
to extend the effect of a foreign divorce decree to a Filipino spouse are limited to the question of whether to extend the effect of a

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foreign judgment in the Philippines. In a foreign judgment relating to Spec. Proc. No. 1345 granting the Petition for Correction of Entry in
the status of a marriage involving a citizen of a foreign country, the Certificate of Live Birth filed by petitioner Felipe C. Almojuela
Philippine courts only decide whether to extend its effect to the (petitioner).
Filipino party, under the rule of lex nationalii expressed in Article 15
of the Civil Code. The Facts

For this purpose, Philippine courts will only determine (1) whether the For almost sixty (60) years, petitioner has been using the surname
foreign judgment is inconsistent with an overriding public policy in "Almojuela." However, when he requested for a copy of his birth
the Philippines; and (2) whether any alleging party is able to prove an certificate from the National Statistics Office (NSO), he was surprised
extrinsic ground to repel the foreign judgment, i.e. want of to discover that he was registered as "Felipe Condeno," instead of
jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear "Felipe Almojuela." Thus, he filed a Petition for Correction of Entry5 in
mistake of law or fact. If there is neither inconsistency with public his NSO birth certificate before the RTC, 6 docketed as Spec. Proc.
policy nor adequate proof to repel the judgment, Philippine courts No. 1345.7
should, by default, recognize the foreign judgment as part of the
comity of nations. Section 48(b), Rule 39 of the Rules of Court states
that the foreign judgment is already "presumptive evidence of a right Petitioner alleged that he was born on February 25, 1950 in Pandan,
between the parties." Upon recognition of the foreign judgment, this Catanduanes and is the acknowledged natural child of Jorge V.
right becomes conclusive and the judgment serves as the basis for Almojuela (Jorge), fonner governor of the said province, and
the correction or cancellation of entry in the civil registry. The Francisca B. Condeno (Francisca), both deceased. He averred that
recognition of the foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage while his parents did not marry each other, he has been known to his
is a subsequent event that establishes a new status, right and fact92 family and friends as "Felipe Almojuela" and has been using the said
that needs to be reflected in the civil registry. Otherwise, there will be surname in all of his official and legal documents, including his school
an inconsistency between the recognition of the effectivity of the records from elementary to college, certificate of Government Service
foreign judgment and the public records in the Philippines.1âwphi1 Insurance System (GSIS) membership, government service records,
appointment as Provincial General Services Officer, report of rating in
the First Grade Entrance Examination of the Civil Service Commission,
However, the recognition of a foreign judgment nullifying a Philippine Passport, Marriage Contract, and Certificate of
bigamous marriage is without prejudice to prosecution for bigamy Compensation Payment/Tax Withheld. In support of his petition, he
under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code.93 The recognition of a also presented a copy of his birth certificate issued by the Local Civil
foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage is not a ground for Registrar of the Municipality of Pandan, Catanduanes showing that
extinction of criminal liability under Articles 89 and 94 of the Revised "Felipe Almojuela" appears as his registered full name.8
Penal Code. Moreover, under Article 91 of the Revised Penal Code,
"[t]he term of prescription [of the crime of bigamy] shall not run
when the offender is absent from the Philippine archipelago." In an Order9 dated January 10, 2011, the RTC initially dismissed the
petition on the ground that petitioner's recourse to Rule 108 of the
Rules of Court was improper, as the petition did not involve mere
Since A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC is inapplicable, the Court no longer sees correction of clerical errors but a matter of filiation which should,
the need to address the questions on venue and the contents and thus, be filed in accordance with Rule 103 of the same Rules.
form of the petition under Sections 4 and 5, respectively, of A.M. No. Moreover, it found that a similar petition docketed as Spec. Proc. No.
02-11-10-SC. 1229 had already been ruled upon and dismissed by the court. 10

WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition. The Order dated 31 January Petitioner moved for reconsideration, maintaining that the issue of
2011 and the Resolution dated 2 March 2011 of the Regional Trial filiation is immaterial since he was only seeking a correction of entry
Court, Branch 107, Quezon City, in Civil Case No. Q-11-68582 are by including the surname "Almojuela" to "Felipe Condeno," his first
REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Regional Trial Court is ORDERED to and middle names appearing on his birth certificate with the NSO. He
REINSTATE the petition for further proceedings in accordance with likewise insisted that the name "Jorge V. Almojuela" was clearly
this Decision. SO ORDERED. indicated thereon as the name of his father. Finding merit in
petitioner's arguments, the RTC, in an Order11 dated February 9,
FIRST DIVISION August 24. 2016 G.R. No. 211724 2011, reconsidered its earlier disposition and allowed petitioner to
present his evidence.12
IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION FOR CORRECTION OF ENTRY
(CHANGE OF FAMILY NAME IN THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE OF During the proceedings, it was discovered that petitioner's name as
FELIPE C. ALMOJUELA AS APPEARING IN THE RECORDS OF THE registered in the Book of Births in the custody of the Municipal Civil
NATIONAL STATISTICS OFFICE), FELIPE C. ALMOJUELA, Petitioner Registar of Pandan, Catanduanes is "Felipe Condeno" and not "Felipe
vs. C. Almojuela," contrary to petitioner's allegation.13
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent
The RTC Ruling
RESOLUTION
In a Decision14 dated October 6, 2011, the R TC granted the petition
PERLAS-BERNABE, J.: and accordingly, directed the Municipal Civil Registrar .of Pandan,
Catanduanes to cause the correction of entry of the facts of
petitioner's birth by changing his surname from "Condeno" to
Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari1 is the Decision2
"Almojuela" and to furnish the Civil Registrar General with a copy of
dated February 27, 2014 rendered by the Court of Appeals (CA) in
the corrected birth certificate.15
CA-G.R. CV. No. 98082, which reversed and set aside the Decision3
dated October 6, 2011 and the Order4 dated November 14, 2011 of
the Regional Trial Court of Virac, Catanduanes, Branch 43 (RTC) in

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In so ruling, the R TC found that the change in petitioner's surname Rule 108 of the Rules of Court provides the procedure for the
would cause no prejudice to the Almojuela family nor would they be correction of substantial changes in the civil registry through an
the object of future mischief. Instead, petitioner has shown that he appropriate adversary proceeding. 32 An adversary proceeding is
was accepted and acknowledged by his half-siblings. Moreover, defined as one "having opposing parties; contested, as distinguished
allowing petitioner to retain the surname that he has been using for from an ex parte application, one of which the party seeking relief
over sixty (60) years, i.e., "Almojuela," would avoid confusion in his has given legal warning to the other party, and afforded the latter an
personal undertakings, as well as in the community.16 opportunity to contest it."33

However, considering that the Book of Births of the Municipal Civil Sections 3, 4, and 5, Rule 108 of the Rules of Court state:
Registrar of Pandan, Catanduanes reflects the name "Felipe
Condeno" as petitioner's registered name, the R TC ordered that the SEC. 3. Parties. - When cancellation or correction of an entry in the
same be first corrected before the correction of entry in the records civil register is sought, the civil registrar and all persons who have or
of the NSO could be had.17 claim any interest which would be affected thereby shall be made
parties to the proceeding.
The Republic of the Philippines, through the Office of the Solicitor
General (OSG), moved for reconsideration,18 citing lack of jurisdiction SEC. 4. Notice and publication. - Upon the filing of the petition, the
due to defective publication and contending that the caption or title court shall, by an order, fix the time and place for the hearing of the
of a petition for change of name should state: (a) the alias or other same, and cause reasonable notice thereof to be given to the
name of petitioner; (b) the name he seeks to adopt; and (c) the cause persons named in the petition. The court shall also cause the order
for the change of name, all of which were lacking in the petition filed to be published once a week for three (3) consecutive weeks in a
before the RTC.19 In an Order20 dated November 14, 2011, the RTC newspaper of general circulation in the province.
denied the OSG's motion and reiterated its stance that based on the
allegations thereon, the petition was only for the correction of entry
in the records of the NSO. As petitioner had established compliance SEC. 5. Opposition. - The civil registrar and any person having or
with the jurisdictional requirements therefor, the RTC had thus claiming any interest under the entry whose cancellation or
acquired jurisdiction.21 Dissatisfied, the OSG appealed22 to the CA. 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. (Emphases supplied)
The CA Ruling

A reading of Sections 4 and 5 shows that the Rule mandates two (2)
In a Decision23 dated February 27, 2014, the CA reversed and set sets of notices to potential oppositors: one given to persons named
aside the assailed RTC Decision and Order, and nullified the RTC's in the petition, and another given to other persons who are not
order for the correction of entry in petitioner's birth certificate.24 It named in the petition but nonetheless may be considered interested
held that although petitioner correctly invoked Rule 108 of the Rules or affected parties. 34 Consequently, the petition for a substantial
of Court in filing his petition,25 he, however, failed to strictly comply correction of an entry in the civil registry should implead as
with the requirements thereunder when he omitted to implead the respondents the civil registrar, as well as all other persons who have or
Local Civil Registrar and his half-siblings, who stand to be affected by claim to have any interest that would be affected thereby. 35
the corrections prayed for, as parties.26 Sections 427 and 5 28 of Rule
108 of the Rules of Court require that notice be sent to persons
named in the petition, as well as to those not named thereon but In Republic v. Coseteng-Magpayo, 36 the Court emphasized that in a
nonetheless may be considered interested or affected parties. In petition for a substantial correction or change of entry in the civil
petitioner's case, his failure to imp lead and notify the Local Civil registry under Rule 108, it is mandatory that the civil registrar, as
Registrar and his half-siblings as mandated by the rules precluded well as all other persons who have or claim to have any interest that
the RTC from acquiring jurisdiction over the case. 29 would be affected thereby be made respondents for the reason that
they are indispensable parties.37 Thus, the Court nullified the order
to effect the necessary changes for respondent's failure to strictly
Moreover, the CA also found that the correction of entry sought by comply with the foregoing procedure laid down in Rule 108 of the
petitioner was not merely clerical in nature, but necessarily involved a Rules of Court. Citing Labayo-Rowe v. Republic, 38 the Court held
determination of his filiation. As petitioner failed to show that his therein:
putative father, Jorge, recognized him as his child through any of the
means allowed under Article 176 of the Family Code, as amended by
Republic Act No. 9255,30 petitioner, therefore, cannot use Aside from the Office of the Solicitor General, all other indispensable
"Almojuela" as his sumame.31 parties should have been made respondents. They include not only
the declared father of the child but the child as well, together with
the paternal grandparents, if any, as their hereditary rights would be
Aggrieved, petitioner elevated the matter before the Court through adversely affected thereby. All other persons who may be affected by
the instant petition.1âwphi1 the change should be notified or represented. The truth is best
ascertained under an adversary system of justice.
The Issue Before the Court
The right of the child Victoria to inherit from her parents would be
The sole issue to be resolved by the Court is whether or not the CA substantially impaired if her status would be changed from
erred in nullifying the correction of entry on petitioner's birth "legitimate" to "illegitimate." Moreover, she would be exposed to
certificate on the ground of lack of jurisdiction. humiliation and embarrassment resulting from the stigma of an
illegitimate filiation that she will bear thereafter. The fact that the
The Court's Ruling notice of hearing of the petition was published in a newspaper of
general circulation and notice thereof was served upon the State will
not change the nature of the proceedings taken. Rule 108, like all the
The petition is bereft of merit. other provisions of the Rules of Court, was promulgated by the

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Supreme Court pursuant to its rule-making authority under Section Cobnsequently, the petition for correction of entry by petitioner must
13, Article VIII of the 1973 Constitution, which directs that such rules perforce be dismissed.
shall not diminish, increase or modify substantive rights. If Rule 108
were to be extended beyond innocuous or harmless changes or WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision dated February
corrections of errors which are visible to the eye or obvious to the 27, 2014 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. C.V. No. 98082 is hereby
understanding, so as to comprehend substantial and controversial AFFIRMED. Consequently, the Decision dated October 6, 2011 of the
alterations concerning citizenship, legitimacy of paternity or filiation, Regional Trial Court of Virac, Catanduanes, Branch 43 in Spec. Proc.
or legitimacy of marriage, without observing the proper proceedings No. 1345 granting the Petition for Correction of Entry in the
as earlier mentioned, said rule would thereby become an Certificate of Live Birth in NULLIFIED. SO ORDERED.
unconstitutional exercise which would tend to increase or modify
substantive rights. This situation is not contemplated under Article
412 of the Civil Code. 39 (Emphases, italics and underscoring
supplied)

Similarly, in Republic v. Uy,40 the Court nullified the trial court's order
to correct respondent's entry for the latter's failure to implead and
notify not only the Local Civil Registrar, but also her parents and
siblings as the persons who have interest and are affected by the
changes or corrections sought.41

In this case, the CA correctly found that petitioner failed to implead


both the Local Civil Registrar and his half-siblings. 42 Although he
claims that his half-siblings have acknowledged and accepted him,
the procedural rules nonetheless mandate compliance with the
requirements in the interest of fair play and due process and to
afford the person concerned the opportunity to protect his interest if
he so chooses. 43

Moreover, although it is true that in certain instances, the Court has


allowed the subsequent publication of a notice of hearing to cure the
petition's lack/failure to implead and notify the affected or interested
parties, such as when: (a) earnest efforts were made by petitioners in
bringing to court all possible interested parties; (b) the parties
themselves initiated the corrections proceedings; (c) there is no
actual or presumptive awareness of the existence of the interested
parties; or, (d) when a party is inadvertently left out,44 these
exceptions are, unfortunately, unavailing in this case.

In sum, the failure to strictly comply with the above-discussed


requirements of Rule 108 of the Rules of Court for correction of an
entry in the civil registrar involving substantial and controversial
alterations renders the entire proceedings therein null and void. In
Republic v. CA,45 the Court held that the proceedings of the trial
court were null and void for lack of jurisdiction as the petitioners
therein failed to implead the civil registrar, an indispensable party, in
the petition for correction of entry, viz.: >>

The local civil registrar is thus required to be made a party to the


proceeding. He is an indispensable party, without whom no final
determination of the case can be had. As he was not imp leaded in
this case much less given notice of the proceeding, the decision of
the trial court, insofar as it granted the prayer for the correction of
entry, is void. The absence of an indispensable party in a case
renders ineffectual all proceedings subsequent to the filing of
the complaint including the judgment.

xxxx

The necessary consequence of the failure to implead the civil


registrar as an indispensable party and to give notice by
publication of the petition for correction of entry was to render
the proceeding of the trial court, so far as the corrction of entry
was concerned, null and void for lack of jurisdiction both as to
party and as to the subject matter.46 (Emphases and underscoring
supplied)

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