Sunday, March 29, 2015

Jalosjos v. COMELEC Case Digest [G.R. No. 191970 April 24, 2012]

FACTS:

Petitioner Rommel Jalosjos was born in Quezon City. He Migrated to Australia and acquired Australian citizenship. On November 22, 2008, at age 35, he returned to the Philippines and lived with his brother in Barangay Veterans Village, Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay. Upon his return, he took an oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines and was issued a Certificate of Reacquisition of Philippine Citizenship. He then renounced his Australian citizenship in September 2009.

He acquired residential property where he lived and applied for registration as voter in the Municipality of Ipil. His application was opposed by the Barangay Captain of Veterans Village, Dan Erasmo, sr. but was eventually granted by the ERB.

A petition for the exclusion of Jalosjos' name in the voter's list was then filed by Erasmo before the MCTC. Said petition was denied. It was then appealed to the RTC who also affirmed the lower court's decision.

On November 8, 2009, Jalosjos filed a Certificate of Candidacy for Governor of Zamboanga Sibugay Province. Erasmo filed a petition to deny or cancel said COC on the ground of failure to comply with R.A. 9225 and the one year residency requirement of the local government code.

COMELEC ruled that Jalosjos failed to comply with the residency requirement of a gubernatorial candidate and failed to show ample proof of a bona fide intention to establish his domicile in Ipil. COMELEC en banc affirmed the decision.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the COMELEC acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in ruling that Jalosjos failed to present ample proof of a bona fide intention to establish his domicile in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay.

RULING:

The Local Government Code requires a candidate seeking the position of provincial governor to be a resident of the province for at least one year before the election. For purposes of the election laws, the requirement of residence is synonymous with domicile, meaning that a person must not only intend to reside in a particular place but must also have personal presence in such place coupled with conduct indicative of such intention.

The question of residence is a question of intention. Jurisprudence has laid down the following guidelines: (a) every person has a domicile or residence somewhere; (b) where once established, that domicile remains until he acquires a new one; and (c) a person can have but one domicile at a time.

It is inevitable under these guidelines and the precedents applying them that Jalosjos has met the residency requirement for provincial governor of Zamboanga Sibugay.

Quezon City was Jalosjos’ domicile of origin, the place of his birth. It may be taken for granted that he effectively changed his domicile from Quezon City to Australia when he migrated there at the age of eight, acquired Australian citizenship, and lived in that country for 26 years. Australia became his domicile by operation of law and by choice.

When he came to the Philippines in November 2008 to live with his brother in Zamboanga Sibugay, it is evident that Jalosjos did so with intent to change his domicile for good. He left Australia, gave up his Australian citizenship, and renounced his allegiance to that country. In addition, he reacquired his old citizenship by taking an oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines, resulting in his being issued a Certificate of Reacquisition of Philippine Citizenship by the Bureau of Immigration. By his acts, Jalosjos forfeited his legal right to live in Australia, clearly proving that he gave up his domicile there. And he has since lived nowhere else except in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay.

To hold that Jalosjos has not establish a new domicile in Zamboanga Sibugay despite the loss of his domicile of origin (Quezon City) and his domicile of choice and by operation of law (Australia) would violate the settled maxim that a man must have a domicile or residence somewhere.

The COMELEC concluded that Jalosjos has not come to settle his domicile in Ipil since he has merely been staying at his brother’s house. But this circumstance alone cannot support such conclusion. Indeed, the Court has repeatedly held that a candidate is not required to have a house in a community to establish his residence or domicile in a particular place. It is sufficient that he should live there even if it be in a rented house or in the house of a friend or relative. To insist that the candidate own the house where he lives would make property a qualification for public office. What matters is that Jalosjos has proved two things: actual physical presence in Ipil and an intention of making it his domicile.

Further, it is not disputed that Jalosjos bought a residential lot in the same village where he lived and a fish pond in San Isidro, Naga, Zamboanga Sibugay. He showed correspondences with political leaders, including local and national party-mates, from where he lived. Moreover, Jalosjos is a registered voter of Ipil by final judgment of the Regional Trial Court of Zamboanga Sibugay.

While the Court ordinarily respects the factual findings of administrative bodies like the COMELEC, this does not prevent it from exercising its review powers to correct palpable misappreciation of evidence or wrong or irrelevant considerations. The evidence Jalosjos presented is sufficient to establish Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay, as his domicile. The COMELEC gravely abused its discretion in holding otherwise.

Jalosjos won and was proclaimed winner in the 2010 gubernatorial race for Zamboanga Sibugay. The Court will respect the decision of the people of that province and resolve all doubts regarding his qualification in his favor to breathe life to their manifest will.

Court GRANTED the petition and SET ASIDE the Resolution of the COMELEC.

Jalosjos v. COMELEC Case DIgest [G.R. No. 192474]

FACTS:

While serving as Mayor of Tampilasan Zamboanga del Norte, Petitioner, Romeo Jalosjos sought the transfer of his voter's registration record to Precint 0051F of Barangay Veterans Village, Zamboanga Sibugay.

Dan Erasmo filed a petition with the MCTC which rendered judgement excluding Jalosjos from the list of voters in question on the ground that he did not abandon his domicile in Tampilasan and is still the incumbent mayor.

Jalosjos appealed the decision to the RTC but the MCTC ruling was affirmed.

Through a petition for certiorari with an application for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction, Jalosjos elevated the case to the CA. His application was granted and his name was reinstated in the voter's list pending resolution of the petition.

Jalosjos filed  his Certificate of Candidacy for the position of Representative of the Second District of Zamboanga Sibugay for the May 2010 national elections. This prompted Erasmo to file a petition with the COMELEC to deny or cancel said COC. His petition was denied by the COMELEC for insufficiency in form and substance.

Pending Erasmo's motion for reconsideration before the COMELEC en banc, Jalosjos won the elections and was proclaimed representative.

Meanwhile, CA rendered in his favor judgement on the pending petition. Erasmo filed a petition for review of the CA's decision before the Supreme Court.

Thereafter, COMELEC en banc granted Erasmo's motion anf declared Jalosjos ineligible to seek election as representative for not satisfying the residency requirement because of his incumbency as mayor of Tampilisan.

Thus, the instant petition.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the Supreme Court has jurisdiction to pass upon the question of Jalosjos’ residency qualification considering that he has been proclaimed winner in the election and has assumed the discharge of that office.

RULING:

While the Constitution vests in the COMELEC the power to decide all questions affecting elections, such power is not without limitation.  It does not extend to contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of members of the House of Representatives and the Senate.  The Constitution vests the resolution of these contests solely upon the appropriate Electoral Tribunal of the Senate or the House of Representatives.

The proclamation of a congressional candidate following the election divests COMELEC of jurisdiction over disputes relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of the proclaimed Representative in favor of the HRET.

After Jalosjos' proclamation, the COMELEC acted without jurisdiction when it still passed upon the issue of his qualification and declared him ineligible for the office of Representative of the Second District of Zamboanga Sibugay.

On election day of 2010 the COMELEC En Banc had as yet to resolve Erasmo’s appeal from the Second Division’s dismissal of the disqualification case against Jalosjos.  Thus, there then existed no final judgment deleting Jalosjos’ name from the list of candidates for the congressional seat he sought.  The last standing official action in his case before election day was the ruling of the COMELEC’s Second Division that allowed his name to stay on that list.  Meantime, the COMELEC En Banc did not issue any order suspending his proclamation pending its final resolution of his case.  With the fact of his proclamation and assumption of office, any issue regarding his qualification for the same, like his alleged lack of the required residence, was solely for the HRET to consider and decide.

Consequently, the Court holds in G.R. 192474 that the COMELEC En Banc exceeded its jurisdiction in declaring Jalosjos ineligible for the position of representative for the Second District of Zamboanga Sibugay, which he won in the elections, since it had ceased to have jurisdiction over his case.  Necessarily, Erasmo’s petitions (G.R. 192704 and G.R. 193566) questioning the validity of the registration of Jalosjos as a voter and the COMELEC’s failure to annul his proclamation also fail.  The Court cannot usurp the power vested by the Constitution solely on the HRET.

Court GRANTED the petition, REVERSES and SETS ASIDE the respondent COMELEC En Banc’s order, and REINSTATES the Commission’s Second Division resolution

COMELEC v. Noynay Case Digest [G.R. No. 132365. July 9, 1998]

FACTS:

Pursuant to a minute resolution by the COMELEC on October 29, 1996, nine informations for violation of Sec. 261(i) of the Omnibus Election Code were filed with Branch 23 of the RTC of Allen, Northern Samar.

In an Order issued on August 25, 1997, public respondent, presiding judge of Branch 23, motu proprio ordered the records of the cases to be withdrawn and directed the COMELEC Law Department to file the cases with the appropriate Municipal Trial Court on the ground that under Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, the Regional Trial Court has no jurisdiction over the cases since the maximum imposable penalty in each of the cases does not exceed six years of imprisonment.

All the accused are uniformly charged for Violation of Sec. 261(i) of the Omnibus Election Code, which carries a penalty of not less than one (1) year but not more than six (6) years of imprisonment and not subject to Probation plus disqualification to hold public office or deprivation of the right of suffrage.

Motions for reconsiderations filed by the COMELEC have been denied. Petitioners then filed the instant petition.

In its Manifestation, the Office of the Solicitor General, it is “adopting” the instant petition on the ground that the challenged orders of public respondent “are clearly not in accordance with existing laws and jurisprudence.”

Public respondent avers that it is the duty of counsel for private respondents interested in sustaining the challenged orders to appear for and defend him.

In their Comment, private respondents maintain that R.A. No. 7691 has divested the Regional Trial Courts of jurisdiction over offenses where the imposable penalty is not more than 6 years of imprisonment; moreover, R.A. 7691 expressly provides that all laws, decrees, and orders inconsistent with its provisions are deemed repealed or modified accordingly.  They then conclude that since the election offense in question is punishable with imprisonment of not more than 6 years, it is cognizable by Municipal Trial Courts.


ISSUE:

Whether R.A. No. 7691 has divested Regional Trial Courts of jurisdiction over election offenses, which are punishable with imprisonment of not exceeding six (6) years.

RULING:

Under Section 268 of the Omnibus Election Code, Regional Trial Courts have exclusive original jurisdiction to try and decide any criminal action or proceedings for violation of the Code except those relating to the offense of failure to register or failure to vote.

In Morales v. Court of Appeals, the court held that by virtue of the exception provided for in the opening sentence of Section 32 of B.P. Blg. 129, the exclusive original jurisdiction of Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts does not cover those criminal cases which by specific provisions of law fall within the exclusive original jurisdiction of Regional Trial Courts and of the Sandiganbayan, regardless of the penalty prescribed therefor.  Otherwise stated, even if those excepted cases are punishable by imprisonment of not exceeding six (6) years (i.e., prision correccional, arresto mayor, or arresto menor), jurisdiction thereon is retained by the Regional Trial Courts or the Sandiganbayan, as the case may be.

Among the examples cited in Morales as falling within the exception provided for in the opening sentence of Section 32 are cases under (1) Section 20 of B.P. Blg. 129; (2) Article 360 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended; (3) the Decree on Intellectual Property; and (4) the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as amended.

Undoubtedly, pursuant to Section 268 of the Omnibus Election Code, election offenses also fall within the exception.

As we stated in Morales, jurisdiction is conferred by the Constitution or by Congress.  Outside the cases enumerated in Section 5(2) of Article VIII of the Constitution, Congress has the plenary power to define, prescribe, and apportion the jurisdiction of various courts.  Congress may thus provide by law that a certain class of cases should be exclusively heard and determined by one court.  Such law would be a special law and must be construed as an exception to the general law on jurisdiction of courts, namely, the Judiciary Act of 1948, as amended, and the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980.  R.A. No. 7691 can by no means be considered as a special law on jurisdiction; it is merely an amendatory law intended to amend specific sections of the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980.  Hence, R.A. No. 7691 does not have the effect of repealing laws vesting upon Regional Trial Courts or the Sandiganbayan exclusive original jurisdiction to hear and decide the cases therein specified.  That Congress never intended that R.A. No. 7691 should repeal such special provisions is indubitably evident from the fact that it did not touch at all the opening sentence of Section 32 of B.P. Blg. 129 providing for the exception.

It is obvious that respondent judge did not read at all the opening sentence of Section 32 of B.P. Blg. 129, as amended.  It is thus an opportune time, as any, to remind him, as well as other judges, of his duty to be studious of the principles of law, to administer his office with due regard to the integrity of the system of the law itself, to be faithful to the law, and to maintain professional competence.

Instant petition is GRANTED

People of the Philippines v. Hon. Enrique B. Inting Case Digest [G.R. No. 88919 July 25, 1990]

FACTS:

On February 6, 1988, A Permanent Nursing Attendant filed a complaint against OIC-Mayor with the COMELEC for allegedly transferring her to a very remote barangay and without prior permission or clearance from the COMELEC.

After a preliminary investigation by the Provincial Election Supervisor, a prima facie case was found.

On September 26, 1988, a criminal case against the OIC-Mayor was filed with the respondent court for violation of Sec. 261 Par. (h) of the Omnibus Election Code.

Respondent court issued a warrant of arrest and fixed a bail at five thousand pesos (P 5, 000) as recomended by the Provincial Election Supervisor.

However, before the accused could be arrested, the trial court set aside its decision on the ground that the Provincial Election Supervisor is not authorized to determine probable cause pursuant to Sec. 2 Art. III of the 1987 Constitution.

In another order dated November 22, 1988, the court gave Provincial Election Supervisor fifteen (15) days from receipt to file another information charging the same offense with the written approval of the Provincial Fiscal. Upon failure to comply with the order, the information was quashed.

Hence, this petition.

ISSUE:

Does a preliminary investigation conducted by a Provincial Election Supervisor involving election offenses have to be coursed through the Provincial Fiscal now Provincial Prosecutor, before the Regional Trial Court may take cognizance of the investigation and determine whether or not probable cause exists?

RULING:

The determination of probable cause is a function of the Judge. It is not for the Provincial Fiscal or Prosecutor nor for the Election Supervisor to ascertain. Only the Judge and the Judge alone makes this determination.

The preliminary inquiry made by a Prosecutor does not bind the Judge. It merely assists him to make the determination of probable cause. It is the report, the affidavits, the transcripts of stenographic notes (if any), and all other supporting documents behind the Prosecutor's certification which are material in assisting the Judge to make his determination.

Judges and Prosecutors alike should distinguish the preliminary inquiry which determines probable cause for the issuance of a warrant of arrest from the preliminary investigation proper which ascertains whether the offender should be held for trial or released. Even if the two inquiries are conducted in the course of one and the same proceeding, there should be no confusion about the objectives. The determination of probable cause for the warrant of arrest is made by the Judge. The preliminary investigation proper-whether or not there is reasonable ground to believe that the accused is guilty of the offense charged and, therefore, whether or not he should be subjected to the expense, rigors and embarrassment of trial is the function of the Prosecutor. The former, which is more properly called preliminary examination is judicial in nature and is lodged with the judge. The latter is executive in nature. It is part of the prosecution's job. It is in this context that we address the issue raised in the instant petition so as to give meaning to the constitutional power vested in the COMELEC regarding election offenses.

Article IX C Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution mandates the COMELEC not only to investigate but also to prosecute cases of violation of election laws. This means that the COMELEC is empowered to conduct preliminary investigations in cases involving election offenses for the purpose of helping the Judge determine probable cause and for filing an information in court. This power is exclusive with COMELEC.

The evident constitutional intendment in bestowing this power to the COMELEC is to insure the free, orderly and honest conduct of elections, failure of which would result in the frustration of the true will of the people and make a mere idle ceremony of the sacred right and duty of every qualified citizen to vote. To divest the COMELEC of the authority to investigate and prosecute offenses committed by public officials in relation to their office would thus seriously impair its effectiveness in achieving this clear constitutional mandate.

An examination of the provisions of the Constitution and the Election Code of 1978 reveals the clear intention to place in the COMELEC exclusive jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute election offenses committed by any person, whether private individual or public officer or employee, and in the latter instance, irrespective of whether the offense is committed in relation to his official duties or not. In other words, it is the nature of the offense and not the personality of the offender that matters. As long as the offense is an election offense jurisdiction over the same rests exclusively with the COMELEC, in view of its all-embracing power over the conduct of elections. (Corpus v. Tanodbayan, 149 SCRA 281 [1987]).

Hence, the Provincial Fiscal, as such, assumes no role in the prosecution of election offenses. If the Fiscal or Prosecutor files an information charging an election offense or prosecutes a violation of election law, it is because he has been deputized by the COMELEC. He does not do so under the sole authority of his office. (People v. Basilla, et al., G.R. Nos. 83938-40, November 6, 1989). In the instant case, there is no averment or allegation that the respondent Judge is bringing in the Provincial Fiscal as a deputy of COMELEC. He wants the Fiscal to "approve" the COMELEC's preliminary investigation.

It is to be noted that on February 27, 1987 (when the 1987 Constitution was already in effect) the President issued Executive Order No. 134 which was the ENABLING ACT FOR ELECTIONS FOR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS ON MAY 11, 1987 AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES." Section 11 thereof provides:

Prosecution. The Commission shall, through its duly authorized legal officers, have exclusive power to conduct preliminary investigation of all election offenses punishable as provided for in the preceding section, and to prosecute the same: Provided, That in the event that the Commission fails to act on any complaint within two (2) months from filing, the complainant may file the complaint with the Office of the Fiscal or with the Department of Justice for proper investigation and prosecution, if warranted.

The Commission may avail of the assistance of other prosecuting arms of the government.

It is only after a preliminary examination conducted by the COMELEC through its officials or its deputies that section 2, Article III of the 1987 Constitution comes in. This is so, because, when the application for a warrant of arrest is made and the information is filed with the court, the judge will then determine whether or not a probable cause exists for the issuance of a warrant of arrest.

It is apparant that the respondent trial court misconstrued the constitutional provision when it quashed the information filed by the Provincial Election Supervisor. The order to get the approval of the Provincial Fiscal is not only superfluous but unwarranted.

The instant petition is GRANTED.

People v. Delgado Case Digest [G.R. Nos. 93419-32 September 18, 1990]

FACTS:

COMELEC received reports agains private respondents for alleged violation of the Omnibus Election Code. After conducting a preliminary investigation on said report, The Provincial Election Supervisor found a prima facie case and recommended filing of an information against each respondents for violation of Sec. 261 (y) (2) and (5) of the Omnibus Election Code. The COMELEC en banc, in a minute resolution, resolved to file information against the private respondents.

Informations were filed against the respondents in the RTC. The Regional Election Director was designated by COMELEC to handle the prosecution with the authority to assign another COMELEC prosecutor.

Private respondents filed motions for reconsiderations and the suspension of the warrant of arrest with the respondent court on the ground that no preliminary investigation was conducted. RTC ordered the reinvestigation of the case and the suspension of the service of the warrants pending submission of the reinvestigation report of the COMELEC.

COMELEC prosecutor filed a motion for reconsideration alleging that only the Supreme Court can review the decisions, orders, rulings and resolutions of the COMELEC but was denied.

Hence, the present petition for certiorari, mandamus and prohibition.


ISSUES:

1. Whether or not only the Supreme Court can review orders of the COMELEC.

2. Whether or not the respondent court has the authority to order the reinvestigation of the case and to order the COMELEC Law Department to furnish said respondent the records of the preliminary investigation of the case for the purpose of determining probable cause.


RULING:

First Issue

The Court held that "what is contemplated by the term final orders, rulings and decisions' of the COMELEC reviewable on certiorari by the Supreme Court as provided by law are those rendered in actions or proceedings before the COMELEC and taken cognizance of by said body in the exercise of its adjudicatory or quasi-judicial powers." Thus, the decisions of the COMELEC on election contests or administrative questions brought before it are subject to judicial review only by this Court.

However, under Section 2(6), of Article IX-C of the Constitution, the COMELEC may "investigate and, where appropriate, prosecute cases of violations of election laws, including acts or omissions constituting election frauds, offenses and malpractices." Under Section 265 of the Omnibus Election Code, the COMELEC, through its duly authorized legal officers, "have the exclusive power to conduct preliminary investigation of all election offenses punishable under this Code, and to prosecute the same."

Section 268 of the same Code provides that: "The regional trial courts shall have exclusive original jurisdiction to try and decide any criminal action or proceedings for violation of this Code, except those relating to the offense of failure to register or failure to vote which shall be under the jurisdiction of the metropolitan or municipal trial courts. From the decision of the courts, appeal will lie as in other criminal cases."

From the foregoing provisions of the Constitution and the Omnibus Election Code, it is clear that aside from the adjudicatory or quasi-judicial power of the COMELEC to decide election contests and administrative questions, it is also vested the power of a public prosecutor with the exclusive authority to conduct the preliminary investigation and the prosecution of election offenses punishable under the Code before the competent court. Thus, when the COMELEC, through its duly authorized law officer, conducts the preliminary investigation of an election offense and upon a prima facie finding of a probable cause, files the information in the proper court, said court thereby acquires jurisdiction over the case. Consequently, all the subsequent disposition of said case must be subject to the approval of the court. The COMELEC cannot conduct a reinvestigation of the case without the authority of the court or unless so ordered by the court.

Second Issue

The records of the preliminary investigation required to be produced by the court must be submitted by the COMELEC. The trial court may rely on the resolution of the COMELEC to file the information, by the same token that it may rely on the certification made by the prosecutor who conducted the preliminary investigation, in the issuance of the warrant of arrest. Nevertheless the court may require that the record of the preliminary investigation be submitted to it to satisfy itself that there is probable cause which will warrant the issuance of a warrant of arrest.

The refusal of the COMELEC or its agents to comply with the order of the trial court requiring them to conduct a reinvestigation in this case and to submit to the court the record of the preliminary investigation on the ground that only this Court may review its actions is certainly untenable.

The petition is brought in the name of the People of the Philippines. Thus, Only the Solicitor General can represent the People of the Philippines in this proceeding. The consent of the Office of the Solicitor General should have been secured by the COMELEC before the filing of this petition. On this account alone, the petition should be dismissed.

The petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit.

Mercado v. Manzano Case Digest [G.R. No. 135083. May 26, 1999]

FACTS:

Petitioner Ernesto Mercado and Eduardo Manzano were both candidates for Vice-Mayor of Makati in the May 11, 1998 elections.

Based on the results of the election, Manzano garnered the highest number of votes. However, his proclamation was suspended due to the pending petition for disqualification filed by Ernesto Mercado on the ground that he was not a citizen of the Philippines but of the United States.

From the facts presented, it appears that Manzano is both a Filipino and a US citizen.

The Commission on Elections declared Manzano disqualified as candidate for said elective position.

However, in a subsequent resolution of the COMELEC en banc, the disqualification of the respondent was reversed. Respondent was held to have renounced his US citizenship when he attained the age of majority and registered himself as a voter in the elections of 1992, 1995 and 1998.

Manzano was eventually proclaimed as the Vice-Mayor of Makati City on August 31, 1998.

Thus the present petition.


ISSUE:

Whether or not a dual citizen is disqualified to hold public elective office in the philippines.


RULING:

The court ruled that the phrase "dual citizenship" in R.A. 7160 Sec. 40 (d) and R.A. 7854 Sec. 20 must be understood as referring to dual allegiance. Dual citizenship is different from dual allegiance. The former arises when, as a result of the application of the different laws of two or more states, a person is simultaneously considered a national by the said states. Dual allegiance on the other hand, refers to a situation in which a person simultaneously owes, by some positive act, loyalty to two or more states. While dual citizenship is involuntary, dual allegiance is a result of an individual's volition. Article IV Sec. 5 of the Constitution provides "Dual allegiance of citizens is inimical to the national interest and shall be dealt with by law."

Consequently, persons with mere dual citizenship do not fall under this disqualification. Unlike those with dual allegiance, who must, therefore, be subject to strict process with respect to the termination of their status, for candidates with dual citizenship, it should suffice if, upon the filing of their certificates of candidacy, they elect Philippine citizenship to terminate their status as persons with dual citizenship considering that their condition is the unavoidable consequence of conflicting laws of different states.

By electing Philippine citizenship, such candidates at the same time forswear allegiance to the other country of which they are also citizens and thereby terminate their status as dual citizens.  It may be that, from the point of view of the foreign state and of its laws, such an individual has not effectively renounced his foreign citizenship.  That is of no moment.

When a person applying for citizenship by naturalization takes an oath that he renounces his loyalty to any other country or government and solemnly declares that he owes his allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines, the condition imposed by law is satisfied and complied with.  The determination whether such renunciation is valid or fully complies with the provisions of our Naturalization Law lies within the province and is an exclusive prerogative of our courts.  The latter should apply the law duly enacted by the legislative department of the Republic.  No foreign law may or should interfere with its operation and application.

The court ruled that the filing of certificate of candidacy of respondent sufficed to renounce his American citizenship, effectively removing any disqualification he might have as a dual citizen. By declaring in his certificate of candidacy that he is a Filipino citizen; that he is not a permanent resident or immigrant of another country; that he will defend and support the Constitution of the Philippines and bear true faith and allegiance thereto and that he does so without mental reservation, private respondent has, as far as the laws of this country are concerned, effectively repudiated his American citizenship and anything which he may have said before as a dual citizen.

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

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

The petition for certiorari is DISMISSED for lack of merit.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Ruling in the case of SAMSUNG CONSTRUCTION COMPANY PHILIPPINES, INC. v. FAR EAST BANK AND TRUST COMPANY AND COURT OF APPEALS

1.) The general rule is to the effect that a forged signature is “wholly inoperative,” and payment made “through or under such signature” is ineffectual or does not discharge the instrument. If payment is made, the drawee cannot charge it to the drawer’s account. The traditional justification for the result is that the drawee is in a superior position to detect a forgery because he has the maker’s signature and is expected to know and compare it. The rule has a healthy cautionary effect on banks by encouraging care in the comparison of the signatures against those on the signature cards they have on file. Moreover, the very opportunity of the drawee to insure and to distribute the cost among its customers who use checks makes the drawee an ideal party to spread the risk to insurance.

2.) When a person deposits money in a general account in a bank, against which he has the privilege of drawing checks in the ordinary course of business, the relationship between the bank and the depositor is that of debtor and creditor.  So far as the legal relationship between the two is concerned, the situation is the same as though the bank had borrowed money from the depositor, agreeing to repay it on demand, or had bought goods from the depositor, agreeing to pay for them on demand. The bank owes the depositor money in the same sense that any debtor owes money to his creditor.  Added to this, in the case of bank and depositor, there is, of course, the bank’s obligation to pay checks drawn by the depositor in proper form and presented in due course.  When the bank receives the deposit, it impliedly agrees to pay only upon the depositor’s order.  When the bank pays a check, on which the depositor’s signature is a forgery, it has failed to comply with its contract in this respect. Therefore, the bank is held liable.

3.) The fact that the forgery is a clever one is immaterial. The forged signature may so closely resemble the genuine as to defy detection by the depositor himself.  And yet, if a bank pays the check, it is paying out its own money and not the depositor’s.

4.) “A bank is bound to know its depositors’ signature.”

5.) The deposit contract between a payor bank and its customer determines who can draw against the customer’s account by specifying whose signature is necessary on checks that are chargeable against the customer’s account. Therefore, a check drawn against the account of an individual customer that is signed by someone other than the customer, and without authority from her, is not properly payable and is not chargeable to the customer’s account, inasmuch as any “unauthorized signature on an instrument is ineffective” as the signature of the person whose name is signed.

6.) Under Section 23 of the Negotiable Instruments Law, forgery is a real or absolute defense by the party whose signature is forged. On the premise that Jong’s signature was indeed forged, FEBTC is liable for the loss since it authorized the discharge of the forged check.  Such liability attaches even if the bank exerts due diligence and care in preventing such faulty discharge.  Forgeries often deceive the eye of the most cautious experts; and when a bank has been so deceived, it is a harsh rule which compels it to suffer although no one has suffered by its being deceived. The forgery may be so near like the genuine as to defy detection by the depositor himself, and yet the bank is liable to the depositor if it pays the check.

7.) A document formally presented is presumed to be genuine until it is proved to be fraudulent. In a forgery trial, this presumption must be overcome but this can only be done by convincing testimony and effective illustrations.

8.) On the CA's ruling that forgery was not proved during the trial due to the conflicting conclusions made by handwriting experts from the NBI and the PNP:

This reasoning is pure sophistry.  Any litigator worth his or her salt would never allow an opponent’s expert witness to stand uncontradicted, thus the spectacle of competing expert witnesses is not unusual.  The trier of fact will have to decide which version to believe, and explain why or why not such version is more credible than the other.  Reliance therefore cannot be placed merely on the fact that there are colliding opinions of two experts, both clothed with the presumption of official duty, in order to draw a conclusion, especially one which is extremely crucial.  Doing so is tantamount to a jurisprudential cop-out.

9.) The crucial fact in question is whether or not the check was forged, not whether the bank could have detected the forgery. The latter issue becomes relevant only if there is need to weigh the comparative negligence between the bank and the party whose signature was forged.

10.) The bare fact that the forgery was committed by an employee of the party whose signature was forged cannot necessarily imply that such party’s negligence was the cause for the forgery.  Employers do not possess the preternatural gift of cognition as to the evil that may lurk within the hearts and minds of their employees.

11.) Jong did testify that his accountant, Kyu, kept the checks inside a “safety box,” and no contrary version was presented by FEBTC. However, such testimony cannot prove that the checks were indeed kept in a safety box, as Jong’s testimony on that point is hearsay, since Kyu, and not Jong, would have the personal knowledge as to how the checks were kept.

12.) Still, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, we can conclude that there was no negligence on Samsung Construction’s part.  The presumption remains that every person takes ordinary care of his concerns, and that the ordinary course of business has been followed. Negligence is not presumed, but must be proven by him who alleges it.  While the complaint was lodged at the instance of Samsung Construction, the matter it had to prove was the claim it had alleged - whether the check was forged.  It cannot be required as well to prove that it was not negligent, because the legal presumption remains that ordinary care was employed.

13.) Thus, it was incumbent upon FEBTC, in defense, to prove the negative fact that Samsung Construction was negligent.  While the payee, as in this case, may not have the personal knowledge as to the standard procedures observed by the drawer, it well has the means of disputing the presumption of regularity. Proving a negative fact may be “a difficult office,” but necessarily so, as it seeks to overcome a presumption in law. FEBTC was unable to dispute the presumption of ordinary care exercised by Samsung Construction, hence we cannot agree with the Court of Appeals’ finding of negligence.

14.) The assailed Decision replicated the extensive efforts which FEBTC devoted to establish that there was no negligence on the part of the bank in its acceptance and payment of the forged check.  However, the degree of diligence exercised by the bank would be irrelevant if the drawer is not precluded from setting up the defense of forgery under Section 23 by his own negligence.

15.) Quite palpably, the general rule remains that the drawee who has paid upon the forged signature bears the loss.  The exception to this rule arises only when negligence can be traced on the part of the drawer whose signature was forged, and the need arises to weigh the comparative negligence between the drawer and the drawee to determine who should bear the burden of loss. The Court finds no basis to conclude that Samsung Construction was negligent in the safekeeping of its checks.  For one, the settled rule is that the mere fact that the depositor leaves his check book lying around does not constitute such negligence as will free the bank from liability to him, where a clerk of the depositor or other persons, taking advantage of the opportunity, abstract some of the check blanks, forges the depositor’s signature and collect on the checks from the bank. And for another, in point of fact Samsung Construction was not negligent at all since it reported the forgery almost immediately upon discovery.

16.) It is accepted that a forged signature of the drawer differs in treatment than a forged signature of the indorser.

17.) The justification for the distinction between forgery of the signature of the drawer and forgery of an indorsement is that the drawee is in a position to verify the drawer’s signature by comparison with one in his hands, but has ordinarily no opportunity to verify an indorsement.

18.) Thus, a drawee bank is generally liable to its depositor in paying a check which bears either a forgery of the drawer’s signature or a forged indorsement. But the bank may, as a general rule, recover back the money which it has paid on a check bearing a forged indorsement, whereas it has not this right to the same extent with reference to a check bearing a forgery of the drawer’s signature.

19.) Consequently, if a bank pays a forged check, it must be considered as paying out of its funds and cannot charge the amount so paid to the account of the depositor.  A bank is liable, irrespective of its good faith, in paying a forged check.