SC upholds DQ of Lucio Tan’s daughter in May 2010 polls

MANILA -- The Supreme Court (SC) affirmed the ruling of the Court of Appeals (CA) which disqualified business tycoon Lucio Tan's daughter from running for a congressional post in the first district of Quezon City in the May 2010 elections.

The high court's Third Division issued the 13-page decision penned by Associate Justice Samuel Martires junking the petition filed by Vivienne Tan which sought the reversal of CA ruling issued in April 2010.

Tan took an Oath of Allegiance to the USA on Jan. 19, 1993, prior to the enactment of RA 9225 on Aug. 29, 2003. If we were to effect as retroactive Tan's Philippine citizenship to the date she lost her Philippine citizenship, then the different use of the words 'reacquire' and 'retain' in RA 9225 would effectively be futile, the SC explained.

Moreover, to consider that the reacquisition of Philippine citizenship retroacts to the date it was lost would result in an absurd scenario where a Filipino would still be considered a Philippine citizen when in fact he had already renounced his citizenship, it added.

Furthermore, the SC noted that the time Tan lost her Philippine citizenship, RA 9225 was not yet enacted and the applicable law was still Commonwealth Act No. 63.

Under the said law, both the renunciation of Philippine citizenship and the acquisition of a new citizenship in a foreign country through naturalization are grounds to lose Filipino citizenship.

All said, absent any legal basis for the retroactive application of RA 9225, we agree with the CA that Tan was not a Filipino citizen at the time she registered as a voter and her inclusion to the permanent voter's list is highly irregular, the SC stressed.

The SC explained that once Filipino citizenship is renounced because of naturalization in a foreign country, one cannot be considered a Filipino citizen unless and until his or her allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines is reaffirmed.

Simply stated, right after a Filipino renounces allegiance to our country, he or she is to be considered a foreigner, the Court noted.

In the case of Tan, the court said it cannot be denied that she filed her voter's registration application on Oct. 26, 2009, and that she only took her Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines on Nov. 30 2009 or more than a month after the ERB approved her application.

The SC also countered Tan's arguments that her reacquisition of Philippine citizenship through RA 9225 has a retroactive effect, such that a natural-born Filipino citizen is deemed never to have lost his or her Filipino citizenship.

It ruled that the deemed to have not lost their Philippine citizenship," provision under Section 2 of RA 9225 does not mean that once Philippine citizenship is reacquired after taking the Oath of Allegiance required in RA 9225, the effect on the citizenship status retroacts to the period before taking said oath.

The appellate court's decision granted the petition filed by Quezon City Rep. Vincent Bingbong" Crisologo seeking the reversal of the QC Regional Trial Court's decision granting Tan's application as a voter and candidate.

The ruling effectively removed Tan from the voter's list of Precinct 0853-A of Barangay Sto. Domingo and prevented her from seeking a congressional post.

In ruling last April 2010, the CA directed the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to comply with the decision of the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court (MTC) to exclude Vivienne K. Tan from the voter's list of precinct 0853-A of Barangay Sto. Domingo, Quezon City.

Likewise, the CA assailed an earlier ruling issued by Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 95 Judge Paul Inting which reversed the ruling of Quezon City MTC Judge Augustus Diaz.

"All told, the element of excess of jurisdiction is present at bench since the act of respondent RTC of ignoring plain, simple and obvious provisions of our laws is not a mere error of judgment but a gross application of the law, which amounts to grave abuse of discretion," the CA said.

The CA said that Tan's application for voter on Oct. 26, 2009 and its acceptance by the Comelec was invalid because she was not yet a Filipino citizen at that time.

"Prior to Nov. 30, 2009, Tan was a naturalized American citizen and, thus, cannot be deemed as a Filipino citizen residing in the Philippines," the CA said.

Court records show that Tan lost her citizenship as a Filipino when she became a naturalized American citizen on Jan. 19, 1993.

She stayed in the US to finish her college studies and opened a business there.

In order to run for a congressional seat in Quezon City, Tan registered as a voter on Oct. 26, 2009 but did not take her oath of allegiance to the Philippines, which is a vital requisite for a Filipino to re-acquire lost citizenship as provided for by RA 9225, otherwise known as the Dual Citizenship Act.

Source: Philippine News Agency

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