Maquiling v. Comelec, G.R. No. 195649, 2 July 2013
Resolution, Sereno [J]
Dissenting Opinion, Brion [J]

Republic of the Philippines


G.R. No. 195649               July 2, 2013




I maintain my dissent and vote to reconsider the Court’s April 16, 2013 Decision. I so vote for the reasons stated in my main Dissent, some of which I restate below for emphasis. Most importantly, I believe that the majority’s ruling runs counter to the policy behind Republic Act No. (RA) 92251, is legally illogical and unsound, and should thus be reversed.

a) The assailed Decision rules on a situation of doubt and in the relatively uncharted area of application where RA 9225 overlaps with our election laws. It reverses the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) ruling that respondent Rommel C. Arnado’s use of his United States (U.S.) passport was isolated and did not affect his renunciation of his previous U.S. citizenship and his re-acquisition of Filipino citizenship. These, to my mind, should have been the starting points in the Court’s consideration of the present case and the motion for reconsideration.

b) After complying with the twin requirements of RA 9225, Arnado not only became a "pure" Filipino citizen but also became eligible to run for public office. To be sure, the majority in fact concedes that Arnado’s use of his U.S. passport is not a ground for loss of Filipino citizenship under Commonwealth Act No. 63 as the law requires express renunciation and not by implication or inference from conduct. Why the norm will be any different with respect to the loss of citizenship rights is, to my mind, a question that the majority ruling left hanging and unanswered as it disregards a directly related jurisprudential landmark – Aznar v. Commission on Elections2 - where the Court ruled that the mere fact that therein respondent Emilio Mario Renner Osmeña was a holder of a certificate that he is an American did not mean that he was no longer a Filipino, and that an application for an alien certificate of registration did not amount to a renunciation of his Philippine citizenship. Through the Court’s ruling in the present case (that by Arnado’s isolated use of his U.S. passport, he is reverted to the status of a dual citizen), the Court effectively reversed Aznar and, under murky facts and the flimsiest of reasons, created a new ground for the loss of the political rights of a Filipino citizen.

c) In a situation of doubt, doubts should be resolved in favor of full Filipino citizenship since the thrust of RA 9225 is to encourage the return to Filipino citizenship of natural-born Filipinos who lost their Philippine citizenship through their acquisition of another citizenship.3 Note in this regard that Arnado consciously and voluntarily gave up a very much sought after citizenship status in favor of returning to full Filipino citizenship and participating in Philippine governance.

From the perspective of our election laws, doubts should also be resolved in favor of Arnado since his election to the office of Mayor of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte was never in doubt. The present voters of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte have eloquently spoken and approved Arnado’s offer of service not only once but twice – in 2010 and now in 2013. Note that the present case was very much alive in the minds of the Kauswagan voters in the immediately past May 13, 2013 elections, yet they again voted Arnado into office.

d) To reiterate what I have stated before, under RA 9225, natural-born citizens who were deemed to have lost their Philippine citizenship because of their naturalization as citizens of a foreign country and who subsequently complied with the requirements of RA 9225 are deemed not to have lost their Philippine citizenship. RA 9225 cured and negated the presumption made under CA 63. Hence, as in Japzon v. Commission on Elections,4 Arnado assumed "pure" Philippine citizenship again after taking the Oath of Allegiance and executing an Oath of Renunciation of his American citizenship under RA 9225.

In this light, the proper framing of the main issue in this case should be whether Arnado’s use of his U.S. passport affected his status as a "pure" Philippine citizen. In question form – did Arnado’s use of a U.S. passport amount to a ground under the law for the loss of his Filipino citizenship under CA 63 or his rights thereunder or, alternatively, the retention of his dual citizenship status?

That Arnado’s use of his U.S. passport amounts to an express renunciation of his Filipino citizenship or some of his rights as a citizen – when its use was an isolated act that he sufficiently explained and fully justified – is not a conclusion that is easy to accept under the available facts of the case and the prevailing law. I emphasize that the law requires express renunciation in order to lose Philippine citizenship. The term means a renunciation that is made distinctly and explicitly and is not left to inference or implication; it is a renunciation manifested by direct and appropriate language, as distinguished from that which is inferred from conduct.5 The appreciation of Arnado’s use of his U.S. passport should not depart from this norm, particularly in a situation of doubt.

Aznar, already cited above, presents a clear and vivid example, taken from jurisprudence, of what "express renunction" is not. The Court ruled that the mere fact that Osmeña was a holder of a certificate that he is an American did not mean that he is no longer a Filipino, and that an application for an alien certificate of registration did not amount to a renunciation of his Philippine citizenship.

In the present case, other than the use of his U.S. passport in two trips to and from the U.S., the record does not bear out any indication, supported by evidence, of Arnado’s intention to re-acquire U.S. citizenship. In the absence of clear and affirmative acts of re-acquisition of U.S. citizenship either by naturalization or by express acts (such as the re-establishment of permanent residency in the U.S.), Arnado’s use of his U.S. passport cannot but be considered an isolated act that did not undo his renunciation of his U.S. citizenship. What he might in fact have done was to violate American law on the use of passports, but this is a matter irrelevant to the present case. Thus, Arnado remains to be a "pure" Filipino citizen and the loss of his Philippine citizenship or of citizenship rights cannot be presumed or inferred from his isolated act of using his U.S. passport for travel purposes.

I do not dispute that an Oath of Renunciation is not an empty or formal ceremony that can be perfunctorily professed at any given day, only to be disregarded on the next. As a mandatory requirement under Section 5(2) of RA 9225, it allows former natural-born Filipino citizens who were deemed to have lost their Philippine citizenship by reason of naturalization as citizens of a foreign country to enjoy full civil and political rights, foremost among them, the privilege to run for public office.

It is another matter, however, to say that Arnado effectively negated his Oath of Renunciation when he used his U.S. passport for travel to the U.S. To reiterate, if only for emphasis, Arnado sufficiently justified the use of his U.S. passport despite his renunciation of his U.S. citizenship: when he travelled on April 14, 2009, June 25, 2009 and July 29, 2009, he had no Philippine passport that he could have used to travel to the U.S. to attend to the business and other affairs that he was leaving. If at all, he could be faulted for using his U.S. passport by the time he returned to the Philippines on November 24, 2009 because at that time, he had presumably received his Philippine passport. However, given the circumstances of Arnado's use and that he consistently used his Philippine passport for travel after November 24, 2009, the true character of his use of his U.S. passport stands out and cannot but be an isolated and convenient act that did not negate his Oath of Renunciation.

In these lights, I maintain the conclusion that no basis exists to overturn the ruling of the COMELEC for grave abuse of discretion; its ruling was neither capricious nor arbitrary as it had basis in law and in fact.

e) With the Court’s assailed pronouncement and its underlying negative policy implication, the Court has effectively left Arnado "[A] MAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY"6 - neither a U.S. citizen by U.S. law, nor a Filipino citizen with full political rights despite his compliance with all the requirements of RA 9225. The only justification given for the treatment was the isolated use of Arnado’s old U.S. passport in traveling between the U.S. and the Philippines before the duly applied for Philippine passport could be issued. Under this situation, read in the context of the election environment under which Japzon v. Commission on Elections7 was made, the following ruling was apparently lost on the majority:

Finally, when the evidence of x x x lack of residence qualification of a candidate for an elective position is weak or inconclusive and it clearly appears that the purpose of the law would not be thwarted by upholding the victor’s right to the office, the will of the electorate should be respected. For the purpose of election laws is to give effect to, rather than frustrate, the will of the voters. x x x In this case, Japzon failed to substantiate his claim that Ty is ineligible to be Mayor of the Municipality of General Macarthur, Eastern Samar, Philippines.8

For all these reasons, I urge the Court to reconsider its position in the assailed April 16, 2013 Decision and grant Rommel C. Arnado’s motion for reconsideration.


1 An Act Making The Citizenship Of Philippine Citizens Who Acquire Foreign Citizenship Permanent. Amending For The Purpose Commonwealth Act No. 63, As Amended And For Other Purposes.

2 264 Phil. 307 (1990).

3 See Japzon v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 180088, January 19, 2009, 576 SCRA 331; and Advocates and Adherents of Social Justice for School Teachers and Allied Workers (AASJS) Member v. Datumanong, G.R. No. 160869, May 11, 2007, 523 SCRA 108.

4 Supra.

5 Board of Immigration Commissioners, et al. v. Callano, et al., 134 Phil. 901, 910 (1968).

6 The title of an 1863 short story by American writer Edward Everett Hale. The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. XII - December 1863 - No. LXXIV, pp. 665-679, available online at (last visited June 23, 2013).

7 Supra note 3.

8 Id. at 353; italics and emphasis ours.

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