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G.R. No.

L-45987 May 5, 1939

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
CAYAT, defendant-appellant.

Sinai Hamada y Cario for appellant.


Office of the Solicitor-General Tuason for appellee.

MORAN, J.:

Prosecuted for violation of Act No. 1639 (secs. 2 and 3), the accused, Cayat, a native of Baguio,
Benguet, Mountain Province, was sentenced by the justice of the peace court of Baguio to pay a fine
of five pesos (P5) or suffer subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency. On appeal of the Court of
First Instance, the following information was filed against him:

That on or about the 25th day of January, 1937, in the City of Baguio, Commonwealth of the
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this court, the above-named accused, Cayat, being
a member of the non-Christian tribes, did then and there willfully, unlawfully, and illegally
receive, acquire, and have in his possession and under his control or custody, one bottle of
A-1-1 gin, an intoxicating liquor, other than the so-called native wines and liquors which the
members of such tribes have been accustomed themselves to make prior to the passage of
Act No. 1639.

Accused interposed a demurrer which was overruled. At the trial, he admitted all the facts alleged in
the information, but pleaded not guilty to the charge for the reasons adduced in his demurrer and
submitted the case on the pleadings. The trial court found him guilty of the crime charged and
sentenced him to pay a fine of fifty pesos (P50) or supper subsidiary imprisonment in case of
insolvency. The case is now before this court on appeal. Sections 2 and 3 of Act No. 1639 read:

SEC. 2. It shall be unlawful for any native of the Philippine Islands who is a member of a
non-Christian tribe within the meaning of the Act Numbered Thirteen hundred and ninety-
seven, to buy, receive, have in his possession, or drink any ardent spirits, ale, beer, wine, or
intoxicating liquors of any kind, other than the so-called native wines and liquors which the
members of such tribes have been accustomed themselves to make prior to the passage of
this Act, except as provided in section one hereof; and it shall be the duty of any police
officer or other duly authorized agent of the Insular or any provincial, municipal or township
government to seize and forthwith destroy any such liquors found unlawfully in the
possession of any member of a non-Christian tribe.

SEC. 3. Any person violating the provisions of section one or section two of this Act shall,
upon conviction thereof, be punishable for each offense by a fine of not exceeding two
hundred pesos or by imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, in the discretion of
the court.

The accused challenges the constitutionality of the Act on the following grounds:

(1) That it is discriminatory and denies the equal protection of the laws;

(2) That it is violative of the due process clause of the Constitution: and.
(3) That it is improper exercise of the police power of the state.

Counsel for the appellant holds out his brief as the "brief for the non-Christian tribes." It is said that
as these less civilized elements of the Filipino population are "jealous of their rights in a democracy,"
any attempt to treat them with discrimination or "mark them as inferior or less capable rate or less
entitled" will meet with their instant challenge. As the constitutionality of the Act here involved is
questioned for purposes thus mentioned, it becomes imperative to examine and resolve the issues
raised in the light of the policy of the government towards the non-Christian tribes adopted and
consistently followed from the Spanish times to the present, more often with sacrifice and tribulation
but always with conscience and humanity.

As early as 1551, the Spanish Government had assumed an unvarying solicitous attitude toward
these inhabitants, and in the different laws of the Indies, their concentration in so-called
"reducciones" (communities) have been persistently attempted with the end in view of according
them the "spiritual and temporal benefits" of civilized life. Throughout the Spanish regime, it had
been regarded by the Spanish Government as a sacred "duty to conscience and humanity" to civilize
these less fortunate people living "in the obscurity of ignorance" and to accord them the "the moral
and material advantages" of community life and the "protection and vigilance afforded them by the
same laws." (Decree of the Governor-General of the Philippines, Jan. 14, 1887.) This policy had not
been deflected from during the American period. President McKinley in his instructions to the
Philippine Commission of April 7, 1900, said:

In dealing with the uncivilized tribes of the Islands, the Commission should adopt the same
course followed by Congress in permitting the tribes of our North American Indians to
maintain their tribal organization and government, and under which many of those tribes are
now living in peace and contentment, surrounded by civilization to which they are unable or
unwilling to conform. Such tribal government should, however, be subjected to wise and firm
regulation; and, without undue or petty interference, constant and active effort should be
exercised to prevent barbarous practices and introduce civilized customs.

Since then and up to the present, the government has been constantly vexed with the problem of
determining "those practicable means of bringing about their advancement in civilization and
material prosperity." (See, Act No. 253.) "Placed in an alternative of either letting them alone or
guiding them in the path of civilization," the present government "has chosen to adopt the latter
measure as one more in accord with humanity and with the national conscience." (Memorandum of
Secretary of the Interior, quoted in Rubi vs. Provincial Board of Mindoro, 39 Phil., 660, 714.) To this
end, their homes and firesides have been brought in contact with civilized communities through a
network of highways and communications; the benefits of public education have to them been
extended; and more lately, even the right of suffrage. And to complement this policy of attraction and
assimilation, the Legislature has passed Act No. 1639 undoubtedly to secure for them the blessings
of peace and harmony; to facilitate, and not to mar, their rapid and steady march to civilization and
culture. It is, therefore, in this light that the Act must be understood and applied.

It is an established principle of constitutional law that the guaranty of the equal protection of the laws
is not equal protection of the laws is not violated by a legislation based on reasonable classification.
And the classification, to be reasonable, (1) must rest on substantial distinctions; (2) must be
germane to the purposes of the law; (3) must not be limited to existing conditions only; and (4) must
apply equally to all members of the same class. (Borgnis vs. Falk Co., 133 N.W., 209;
Lindsley vs. Natural Carbonic Gas Co., 220 U.S. 61; 55 Law. ed., Rubi vs. Provincial Board of
Mindoro, 39 Phil., 660; People and Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corporation vs. Vera and Cu
Unjieng, 37 Off. Gaz ., 187.)
Act No. 1639 satisfies these requirements. The classification rests on real and substantial, not
merely imaginary or whimsical, distinctions. It is not based upon "accident of birth or parentage," as
counsel to the appellant asserts, but upon the degree of civilization and culture. "The term 'non-
Christian tribes' refers, not to religious belief, but, in a way, to the geographical area, and, more
directly, to natives of the Philippine Islands of a low grade of civilization, usually living in tribal
relationship apart from settled communities." (Rubi vs. Provincial Board of Mindoro, supra.) This
distinction is unquestionably reasonable, for the Act was intended to meet the peculiar conditions
existing in the non-Christian tribes. The exceptional cases of certain members thereof who at
present have reached a position of cultural equality with their Christian brothers, cannot affect the
reasonableness of the classification thus established.

That it is germane to the purposes of law cannot be doubted. The prohibition "to buy, receive, have
in his possession, or drink any ardent spirits, ale, beer, wine, or intoxicating liquors of any kind, other
than the so-called native wines and liquors which the members of such tribes have been
accustomed themselves to make prior to the passage of this Act.," is unquestionably designed to
insure peace and order in and among the non-Christian tribes. It has been the sad experience of the
past, as the observations of the lower court disclose, that the free use of highly intoxicating liquors
by the non-Christian tribes have often resulted in lawlessness and crimes, thereby hampering the
efforts of the government to raise their standard of life and civilization.

The law is not limited in its application to conditions existing at the time of its enactment. It is
intended to apply for all times as long as those conditions exist. The Act was not predicated, as
counsel for appellant asserts, upon the assumption that the non-Christians are "impermeable to any
civilizing influence." On the contrary, the Legislature understood that the civilization of a people is a
slow process and that hand in hand with it must go measures of protection and security.

Finally, that the Act applies equally to all members of the class is evident from a perusal thereof.
That it may be unfair in its operation against a certain number non-Christians by reason of their
degree of culture, is not an argument against the equality of its application.

Appellants contends that that provision of the law empowering any police officer or other duly
authorized agent of the government to seize and forthwith destroy any prohibited liquors found
unlawfully in the possession of any member of the non-Christian tribes is violative of the due process
of law provided in the Constitution. But this provision is not involved in the case at bar. Besides, to
constitute due process of law, notice and hearing are not always necessary. This rule is especially
true where much must be left to the discretion of the administrative officials in applying a law to
particular cases. (McGehee, Due Process of Law p. 371, cited with approval in Rubi vs.Provincial
Board of Mindoro, supra.) Due process of law means simply: (1) that there shall be a law prescribed
in harmony with the general powers of the legislative department of the government; (2) that it shall
be reasonable in its operation; (3) that it shall be enforced according to the regular methods of
procedure prescribed; and (4) that it shall be applicable alike to all citizens of the state or to all of the
class. (U.S. vs. Ling Su Fan, 10 Phil., 104, affirmed on appeal by the United States Supreme Court,
218 U.S., 302: 54 Law. ed., 1049.) Thus, a person's property may be seized by the government in
payment of taxes without judicial hearing; or property used in violation of law may be confiscated
(U.S. vs. Surla, 20 Phil., 163, 167), or when the property constitutes corpus delicti, as in the instant
case (Moreno vs. Ago Chi, 12 Phil., 439, 442).

Neither is the Act an improper exercise of the police power of the state. It has been said that the
police power is the most insistent and least limitable of all powers of the government. It has been
aptly described as a power co-extensive with self-protection and constitutes the law of overruling
necessity. Any measure intended to promote the health, peace, morals, education and good order of
the people or to increase the industries of the state, develop its resources and add to its wealth and
prosperity (Barbier vs. Connolly, 113 U.S., 27), is a legitimate exercise of the police power, unless
shown to be whimsical or capricious as to unduly interfere with the rights of an individual, the same
must be upheld.

Act No. 1639, as above stated, is designed to promote peace and order in the non-Christian tribes
so as to remove all obstacles to their moral and intellectual growth and, eventually, to hasten their
equalization and unification with the rest of their Christian brothers. Its ultimate purpose can be no
other than to unify the Filipino people with a view to a greater Philippines.

The law, then, does not seek to mark the non-Christian tribes as "an inferior or less capable race."
On the contrary, all measures thus far adopted in the promotion of the public policy towards them
rest upon a recognition of their inherent right to equality in tht enjoyment of those privileges now
enjoyed by their Christian brothers. But as there can be no true equality before the law, if there is, in
fact, no equality in education, the government has endeavored, by appropriate measures, to raise
their culture and civilization and secure for them the benefits of their progress, with the ultimate end
in view of placing them with their Christian brothers on the basis of true equality. It is indeed
gratifying that the non-Christian tribes "far from retrograding, are definitely asserting themselves in a
competitive world," as appellant's attorney impressively avers, and that they are "a virile, up-and -
coming people eager to take their place in the world's social scheme." As a matter of fact, there are
now lawyers, doctors and other professionals educated in the best institutions here and in America.
Their active participation in the multifarious welfare activities of community life or in the delicate
duties of government is certainly a source of pride and gratification to people of the Philippines. But
whether conditions have so changed as to warrant a partial or complete abrogation of the law, is a
matter which rests exclusively within the prerogative of the National Assembly to determine. In the
constitutional scheme of our government, this court can go no farther than to inquire whether the
Legislature had the power to enact the law. If the power exists, and we hold it does exist, the wisdom
of the policy adopted, and the adequacy under existing conditions of the measures enacted to
forward it, are matters which this court has no authority to pass upon. And, if in the application of the
law, the educated non-Christians shall incidentally suffer, the justification still exists in the all-
comprehending principle of salus populi suprema est lex. When the public safety or the public
morals require the discontinuance of a certain practice by certain class of persons, the hand of the
Legislature cannot be stayed from providing for its discontinuance by any incidental inconvenience
which some members of the class may suffer. The private interests of such members must yield to
the paramount interests of the nation (Cf. Boston Beer Co. vs. Mass., 97 U.S., 25; 24 law. ed., 989).

EN BANC

RODOLFO S. BELTRAN, doing G.R. No. 133640


business under the name and style, OUR LADY OF
FATIMA BLOOD BANK, FELY G. MOSALE, doing
business under the name and style, MOTHER SEATON
BLOOD BANK; PEOPLES BLOOD BANK, INC.; MARIA
VICTORIA T. VITO, M.D., doing business under the name
and style, AVENUE BLOOD BANK; JESUS M. GARCIA,
M.D., doing business under the name and style, HOLY
REDEEMER BLOOD BANK, ALBERT L. LAPITAN, doing
business under the name and style, BLUE CROSS BLOOD
TRANSFUSION SERVICES; EDGARDO R. RODAS, M.D.,
doing business under the name and style, RECORD
BLOOD BANK, in their individual capacities and for and
in behalf of PHILIPPINE ASSOCIATION OF BLOOD
BANKS,
Petitioners,

- versus

THE SECRETARY OF HEALTH,


Respondent.

x ------------------------------------------------ x

DOCTORS BLOOD CENTER, G.R. No. 133661


Petitioner,

- versus

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH.
Respondent.

x --------------------------------------------- x

RODOLFO S. BELTRAN, doing G.R. No. 139147


business under the name and style, OUR LADY
OF FATIMA BLOOD
BANK, FELY G. MOSALE, doing Present:
business under the name and style,
MOTHER SEATON BLOOD BANK; DAVIDE, JR., C.J.,
PEOPLES BLOOD BANK, INC.; PUNO,
MARIA VICTORIA T. VITO, M.D., PANGANIBAN,
doing business under the name and QUISUMBING,
style, AVENUE BLOOD BANK; YNARES-SANTIAGO,
JESUS M. GARCIA, M.D., doing SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,
business under the name and style, CARPIO,
HOLY REDEEMER BLOOD BANK, AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
ALBERT L. LAPITAN, doing CORONA,
business under the name and style, CARPIO-MORALES,
BLUE CROSS BLOOD CALLEJO, SR.,
TRANSFUSION SERVICES; AZCUNA,
EDGARDO R. RODAS, M.D., doing TINGA,
business under the name and style, CHIZO-NAZARIO,* and
RECORD BLOOD BANK, in their GARCIA, JJ.
Individual capacities and for
and in behalf of PHILIPPINE Promulgated:
ASSOCIATION OF BLOOD BANKS,
Petitioners, November 25, 2005
- versus

THE SECRETARY OF HEALTH,


Respondent.

x ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- x

DECISION

AZCUNA, J.:

Before this Court are petitions assailing primarily the constitutionality of Section 7 of Republic Act
No. 7719, otherwise known as the National Blood Services Act of 1994, and the validity of
Administrative Order (A.O.) No. 9, series of 1995 or the Rules and Regulations Implementing Republic
Act No. 7719.

G.R. No. 133640,[1] entitled Rodolfo S. Beltran, doing business under the name and style, Our Lady of
Fatima Blood Bank, et al., vs. The Secretary of Health and G.R. No. 133661,[2] entitled Doctors Blood
Bank Center vs. Department of Health are petitions for certiorari and mandamus, respectively,
seeking the annulment of the following: (1) Section 7 of Republic Act No. 7719; and, (2) Administrative
Order (A.O.) No. 9, series of 1995. Both petitions likewise pray for the issuance of a writ of prohibitory
injunction enjoining the Secretary of Health from implementing and enforcing the aforementioned
law and its Implementing Rules and Regulations; and, for a mandatory injunction ordering and
commanding the Secretary of Health to grant, issue or renew petitioners license to operate free
standing blood banks (FSBB).

The above cases were consolidated in a resolution of the Court En Banc dated June 2, 1998.[3]

G.R. No. 139147,[4] entitled Rodolfo S. Beltran, doing business under the name and style, Our Lady of
Fatima Blood Bank, et al., vs. The Secretary of Health, on the other hand, is a petition to show cause
why respondent Secretary of Health should not be held in contempt of court.
This case was originally assigned to the Third Division of this Court and later consolidated
with G.R. Nos. 133640 and 133661 in a resolution dated August 4, 1999.[5]
Petitioners comprise the majority of the Board of Directors of the Philippine Association of
Blood Banks, a duly registered non-stock and non-profit association composed of free standing blood
banks.

Public respondent Secretary of Health is being sued in his capacity as the public official directly
involved and charged with the enforcement and implementation of the law in question.

The facts of the case are as follows:

Republic Act No. 7719 or the National Blood Services Act of 1994 was enacted into law on April 2,
1994. The Act seeks to provide

an adequate supply of safe blood by promoting voluntary blood donation and by regulating blood
banks in the country. It was approved by then President Fidel V. Ramos on May 15, 1994 and was
subsequently published in the Official Gazette on August 18, 1994. The law took effect on August 23,
1994.

On April 28, 1995, Administrative Order No. 9, Series of 1995, constituting the Implementing
Rules and Regulations of said law was promulgated by respondent Secretary of the Department of
Health (DOH).[6]

Section 7 of R.A. 7719 [7] provides:

Section 7. Phase-out of Commercial Blood Banks - All commercial blood banks


shall be phased-out over a period of two (2) years after the effectivity of this Act,
extendable to a maximum period of two (2) years by the Secretary.

Section 23 of Administrative Order No. 9 provides:

Section 23. Process of Phasing Out. -- The Department shall effect the phasing-out of
all commercial blood banks over a period of two (2) years, extendible for a maximum
period of two (2) years after the effectivity of R.A. 7719. The decision to extend shall
be based on the result of a careful study and review of the blood supply and demand
and public safety.[8]

Blood banking and blood transfusion services in the country have been arranged in four (4) categories:
blood centers run by the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC), government-run blood services,
private hospital blood banks, and commercial blood services.

Years prior to the passage of the National Blood Services Act of 1994, petitioners have already
been operating commercial blood banks under Republic Act No. 1517, entitled An Act Regulating the
Collection, Processing and Sale of Human Blood, and the Establishment and Operation of Blood Banks
and Blood Processing Laboratories. The law, which was enacted on June 16, 1956, allowed the
establishment and operation by licensed physicians of blood banks and blood processing laboratories.
The Bureau of Research and Laboratories (BRL) was created in 1958 and was given the power to
regulate clinical laboratories in 1966 under Republic Act No. 4688. In 1971, the Licensure Section was
created within the BRL. It was given the duty to enforce the licensure requirements for blood banks
as well as clinical laboratories. Due to this development, Administrative Order No. 156, Series of 1971,
was issued. The new rules and regulations triggered a stricter enforcement of the Blood Banking Law,
which was characterized by frequent spot checks, immediate suspension and communication of such
suspensions to hospitals, a more systematic record-keeping and frequent communication with blood
banks through monthly information bulletins. Unfortunately, by the 1980s, financial difficulties
constrained the BRL to reduce the frequency of its supervisory visits to the blood banks.[9]

Meanwhile, in the international scene, concern for the safety of blood and blood products intensified
when the dreaded disease Acute Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) was first described in 1979. In
1980, the International Society of Blood Transfusion (ISBT) formulated the Code of Ethics for Blood
Donation and Transfusion. In 1982, the first case of transfusion-associated AIDS was described in an
infant. Hence, the ISBT drafted in 1984, a model for a national blood policy outlining certain principles
that should be taken into consideration. By 1985, the ISBT had disseminated guidelines requiring AIDS
testing of blood and blood products for transfusion.[10]

In 1989, another revision of the Blood Banking Guidelines was made. The DOH issued Administrative
Order No. 57, Series of 1989, which classified banks into primary, secondary and tertiary depending
on the services they provided. The standards were adjusted according to this classification. For
instance, floor area requirements varied according to classification level. The new guidelines likewise
required Hepatitis B and HIV testing, and that the blood bank be headed by a pathologist or a
hematologist.[11]

In 1992, the DOH issued Administrative Order No. 118-A institutionalizing the National Blood
Services Program (NBSP). The BRL was designated as the central office primarily responsible for the
NBSP. The program paved the way for the creation of a committee that will implement the policies of
the program and the formation of the Regional Blood Councils.

In August 1992, Senate Bill No. 1011, entitled An Act Promoting Voluntary Blood Donation, Providing
for an Adequate Supply of Safe Blood, Regulating Blood Banks and Providing Penalties for Violations
Thereof, and for other Purposes was introduced in the Senate.[12]
Meanwhile, in the House of Representatives, House Bills No. 384, 546, 780 and 1978 were being
deliberated to address the issue of safety of the Philippine blood bank system. Subsequently, the
Senate and House Bills were referred to the appropriate committees and subsequently consolidated.[13]
In January of 1994, the New Tropical Medicine Foundation, with the assistance of the U.S.
Agency for International Development (USAID) released its final report of a study on the Philippine
blood banking system entitled Project to Evaluate the Safety of the Philippine Blood Banking System. It was
revealed that of the blood units collected in 1992, 64.4 % were supplied by commercial blood banks,
14.5% by the PNRC, 13.7% by government hospital-based blood banks, and 7.4% by private hospital-
based blood banks. During the time the study was made, there were only twenty-four (24) registered
or licensed free-standing or commercial blood banks in the country. Hence, with these numbers in
mind, the study deduced that each commercial blood bank produces five times more blood than the
Red Cross and fifteen times more than the government-run blood banks. The study, therefore, showed
that the Philippines heavily relied on commercial sources of blood. The study likewise revealed that
99.6% of the donors of commercial blood banks and 77.0% of the donors of private-hospital based
blood banks are paid donors. Paid donors are those who receive remuneration for donating their
blood. Blood donors of the PNRC and government-run hospitals, on the other hand, are mostly
voluntary.[14]
It was further found, among other things, that blood sold by persons to blood commercial banks are
three times more likely to have any of the four (4) tested infections or blood transfusion transmissible
diseases, namely, malaria, syphilis, Hepatitis B and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
than those donated to PNRC.[15]
Commercial blood banks give paid donors varying rates around P50 to P150, and because of
this arrangement, many of these donors are poor, and often they are students, who need cash
immediately. Since they need the money, these donors are not usually honest about their medical or
social history. Thus, blood from healthy, voluntary donors who give their true medical and social
history are about three times much safer than blood from paid donors.[16]

What the study also found alarming is that many Filipino doctors are not yet fully trained on the
specific indications for blood component transfusion. They are not aware of the lack of blood supply
and do not feel the need to adjust their practices and use of blood and blood products. It also does not
matter to them where the blood comes from.[17]
On August 23, 1994, the National Blood Services Act providing for the phase out of commercial blood
banks took effect. On April 28, 1995, Administrative Order No. 9, Series of 1995, constituting the
Implementing Rules and Regulations of said law was promulgated by DOH.

The phase-out period was extended for two years by the DOH pursuant to Section 7 of Republic Act
No. 7719 and Section 23 of its Implementing Rules and Regulations. Pursuant to said Act, all
commercial blood banks should have been phased out by May 28, 1998. Hence, petitioners were
granted by the Secretary of Health their licenses to open and operate a blood bank only until May 27,
1998.

On May 20, 1998, prior to the expiration of the licenses granted to petitioners, they filed a
petition for certiorari with application for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction or temporary
restraining order under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court assailing the constitutionality and validity of the
aforementioned Act and its Implementing Rules and Regulations. The case was entitled Rodolfo S.
Beltran, doing business under the name and style, Our Lady of Fatima Blood Bank, docketed as G.R.
No. 133640.
On June 1, 1998, petitioners filed an Amended Petition for Certiorari with Prayer for Issuance
of a Temporary Restraining Order, writ of preliminary mandatory injunction and/or status quo
ante order.[18]
In the aforementioned petition, petitioners assail the constitutionality of the questioned legal
provisions, namely, Section 7 of Republic Act No. 7719 and Section 23 of Administrative Order No. 9,
Series of 1995, on the following grounds: [19]

1. The questioned legal provisions of the National Blood Services Act and its
Implementing Rules violate the equal protection clause for irrationally
discriminating against free standing blood banks in a manner which is not
germane to the purpose of the law;
2. The questioned provisions of the National Blood Services Act and its
Implementing Rules represent undue delegation if not outright abdication of the
police power of the state; and,

3. The questioned provisions of the National Blood Services Act and its
Implementing Rules are unwarranted deprivation of personal liberty.

On May 22, 1998, the Doctors Blood Center filed a similar petition for mandamus with a prayer
for the issuance of a temporary restraining order, preliminary prohibitory and mandatory injunction
before this Court entitled Doctors Blood Center vs. Department of Health, docketed as G.R. No.
133661. [20]This was consolidated with G.R. No. 133640.[21]

Similarly, the petition attacked the constitutionality of Republic Act No. 7719 and its
implementing rules and regulations, thus, praying for the issuance of a license to operate commercial
blood banks beyond May 27, 1998. Specifically, with regard to Republic Act No. 7719, the petition
submitted the following questions[22] for resolution:

1. Was it passed in the exercise of police power, and was it a


valid exercise of such power?

2. Does it not amount to deprivation of property without due


process?

3. Does it not unlawfully impair the obligation of contracts?


4. With the commercial blood banks being abolished and with no ready machinery to
deliver the same supply and services, does R.A. 7719 truly serve the public
welfare?

On June 2, 1998, this Court issued a Resolution directing respondent DOH to file a consolidated
comment. In the same Resolution, the Court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) for
respondent to cease and desist from implementing and enforcing Section 7 of Republic Act No. 7719
and its implementing rules and regulations until further orders from the Court.[23]

On August 26, 1998, respondent Secretary of Health filed a Consolidated Comment on the petitions
for certiorari and mandamus in G.R. Nos. 133640 and 133661, with opposition to the issuance of a
temporary restraining order.[24]

In the Consolidated Comment, respondent Secretary of Health submitted that blood from commercial
blood banks is unsafe and therefore the State, in the exercise of its police power, can close down
commercial blood banks to protect the public. He cited the record of deliberations on Senate Bill No.
1101 which later became Republic Act No. 7719, and the sponsorship speech of Senator Orlando
Mercado.

The rationale for the closure of these commercial blood banks can be found in the deliberations of
Senate Bill No. 1011, excerpts of which are quoted below:

Senator Mercado: I am providing over a period of two years to phase out all
commercial blood banks. So that in the end, the new section would have a provision
that states:

ALL COMMERCIAL BLOOD BANKS SHALL BE PHASED OUT OVER A


PERIOD OF TWO YEARS AFTER THE EFFECTIVITY OF THIS ACT. BLOOD SHALL
BE COLLECTED FROM VOLUNTARY DONORS ONLY AND THE SERVICE FEE TO
BE CHARGED FOR EVERY BLOOD PRODUCT ISSUED SHALL BE LIMITED TO
THE NECESSARY EXPENSES ENTAILED IN COLLECTING AND PROCESSING OF
BLOOD. THE SERVICE FEE SHALL BE MADE UNIFORM THROUGH GUIDELINES
TO BE SET BY THE DEPARTMENTOF HEALTH.
I am supporting Mr. President, the finding of a study called Project to Evaluate
the Safety of the Philippine Blood Banking System. This has been taken note of. This
is a study done with the assistance of the USAID by doctors under the New Tropical
Medicine Foundation in Alabang.
Part of the long-term measures proposed by this particular study is to improve
laws, outlaw buying and selling of blood and legally define good manufacturing
processes for blood. This goes to the very heart of my amendment which seeks to put
into law the principle that blood should not be subject of commerce of man.
The Presiding Officer Senator Aquino: What does the sponsor say?
Senator Webb: Mr. President, just for clarity, I would like to find out how the
Gentleman defines a commercial blood bank. I am at a loss at times what a commercial
blood bank really is.
Senator Mercado: We have a definition, I believe, in the measure, Mr.
President.
The Presiding Officer [Senator Aquino]: It is a business where profit is
considered.

Senator Mercado: If the Chairman of the Committee would accept it, we can put a
provision on Section 3, a definition of a commercial blood bank, which, as defined in
this law, exists for profit and engages in the buying and selling of blood or its
components.

Senator Webb: That is a good description, Mr. President.

Senator Mercado: I refer, Mr. President, to a letter written by Dr. Jaime


Galvez-Tan, the Chief of Staff, Undersecretary of Health, to the good Chairperson of
the Committee on Health.
In recommendation No. 4, he says:
The need to phase out all commercial blood banks within a two-year period
will give the Department of Health enough time to build up governments capability
to provide an adequate supply of blood for the needs of the nation...the use of blood
for transfusion is a medical service and not a sale of commodity.
Taking into consideration the experience of the National Kidney Institute,
which has succeeded in making the hospital 100 percent dependent on voluntary
blood donation, here is a success story of a hospital that does not buy blood. All those
who are operated on and need blood have to convince their relatives or have to get
volunteers who would donate blood
If we give the responsibility of the testing of blood to those commercial blood
banks, they will cut corners because it will protect their profit.
In the first place, the people who sell their blood are the people who are
normally in the high-risk category. So we should stop the system of selling and buying
blood so that we can go into a national voluntary blood program.
It has been said here in this report, and I quote:
Why is buying and selling of blood not safe? This is not safe because a donor
who expects payment for his blood will not tell the truth about his illnesses and will
deny any risky social behavior such as sexual promiscuity which increases the risk of
having syphilis or AIDS or abuse of intravenous addictive drugs. Laboratory tests are
of limited value and will not detect early infections. Laboratory tests are required only
for four diseases in the Philippines. There are other blood transmissible diseases we
do not yet screen for and there could be others where there are no tests available yet.
A blood bank owner expecting to gain profit from selling blood will also try
his best to limit his expenses. Usually he tries to increase his profit by buying cheaper
reagents or test kits, hiring cheaper manpower or skipping some tests altogether. He
may also try to sell blood even though these have infections in them. Because there is
no existing system of counterchecking these, the blood bank owner can usually get
away with many unethical practices.
The experience of Germany, Mr. President is illustrative of this issue. The
reason why contaminated blood was sold was that there were corners cut by
commercial blood banks in the testing process. They were protecting their profits.[25]

The sponsorship speech of Senator Mercado further elucidated his stand on the issue:

Senator Mercado: Today, across the country, hundreds of poverty-stricken, sickly and
weak Filipinos, who, unemployed, without hope and without money to buy the next
meal, will walk into a commercial blood bank, extend their arms and plead that their
blood be bought. They will lie about their age, their medical history. They will lie about
when they last sold their blood. For doing this, they will receive close to a hundred
pesos. This may tide them over for the next few days. Of course, until the next
bloodletting.

This same blood will travel to the posh city hospitals and urbane medical centers. This
same blood will now be bought by the rich at a price over 500% of the value for which
it was sold. Between this buying and selling, obviously, someone has made a very fast
buck.

Every doctor has handled at least one transfusion-related disease in an otherwise


normal patient. Patients come in for minor surgery of the hand or whatever and they
leave with hepatitis B. A patient comes in for an appendectomy and he leaves with
malaria. The worst nightmare: A patient comes in for a Caesarian section and leaves
with AIDS.

We do not expect good blood from donors who sell their blood because of poverty.
The humane dimension of blood transfusion is not in the act of receiving blood, but in
the act of giving it

For years, our people have been at the mercy of commercial blood banks that lobby
their interests among medical technologists, hospital administrators and sometimes
even physicians so that a proactive system for collection of blood from healthy donors
becomes difficult, tedious and unrewarding.

The Department of Health has never institutionalized a comprehensive national


program for safe blood and for voluntary blood donation even if this is a serious public
health concern and has fallen for the linen of commercial blood bankers, hook, line
and sinker because it is more convenient to tell the patient to buy blood.

Commercial blood banks hold us hostage to their threat that if we are to close them
down, there will be no blood supply. This is true if the Government does not step in
to ensure that safe supply of blood. We cannot allow commercial interest groups to
dictate policy on what is and what should be a humanitarian effort. This cannot and
will never work because their interest in blood donation is merely monetary. We
cannot expect commercial blood banks to take the lead in voluntary blood donation.
Only the Government can do it, and the Government must do it.[26]
On May 5, 1999, petitioners filed a Motion for Issuance of Expanded Temporary Restraining Order for
the Court to order respondent Secretary of Health to cease and desist from announcing the closure of
commercial blood banks, compelling the public to source the needed blood from voluntary donors
only, and committing similar acts that will ultimately cause the shutdown of petitioners blood
banks.[27]
On July 8, 1999, respondent Secretary filed his Comment and/or Opposition to the above
motion stating that he has not ordered the closure of commercial blood banks on account of the
Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued on June 2, 1998 by the Court. In compliance with the TRO,
DOH had likewise ceased to distribute the health advisory leaflets, posters and flyers to the public
which state that blood banks are closed or will be closed. According to respondent Secretary, the same
were printed and circulated in anticipation of the closure of the commercial blood banks in accordance
with R.A. No. 7719, and were printed and circulated prior to the issuance of the TRO.[28]

On July 15, 1999, petitioners in G.R. No. 133640 filed a Petition to Show Cause Why Public
Respondent Should Not be Held in Contempt of Court, docketed as G.R. No. 139147, citing public
respondents willful disobedience of or resistance to the restraining order issued by the Court in the
said case. Petitioners alleged that respondents act constitutes circumvention of the temporary
restraining order and a mockery of the authority of the Court and the orderly administration of
justice.[29] Petitioners added that despite the issuance of the temporary restraining order in G.R. No.
133640, respondent, in his effort to strike down the existence of commercial blood banks, disseminated
misleading information under the guise of health advisories, press releases, leaflets, brochures and
flyers stating, among others, that this year [1998] all commercial blood banks will be closed by 27 May.
Those who need blood will have to rely on government blood banks.[30]Petitioners further claimed
that respondent Secretary of Health announced in a press conference during the Blood Donors Week
that commercial blood banks are illegal and dangerous and that they are at the moment protected by
a restraining order on the basis that their commercial interest is more important than the lives of the
people. These were all posted in bulletin boards and other conspicuous places in all government
hospitals as well as other medical and health centers.[31]
In respondent Secretarys Comment to the Petition to Show Cause Why Public Respondent Should Not
Be Held in Contempt of Court, dated January 3, 2000, it was explained that nothing was issued by the
department ordering the closure of commercial blood banks. The subject health advisory leaflets
pertaining to said closure pursuant to Republic Act No. 7719 were printed and circulated prior to the
Courts issuance of a temporary restraining order on June 21, 1998.[32]
Public respondent further claimed that the primary purpose of the information campaign was
to promote the importance and safety of voluntary blood donation and to educate the public about
the hazards of patronizing blood supplies from commercial blood banks.[33] In doing so, he was merely
performing his regular functions and duties as the Secretary of Health to protect the health and
welfare of the public. Moreover, the DOH is the main proponent of the voluntary blood donation
program espoused by Republic Act No. 7719, particularly Section 4 thereof which provides that, in
order to ensure the adequate supply of human blood, voluntary blood donation shall be promoted
through public education, promotion in schools, professional education, establishment of blood
services network, and walking blood donors.
Hence, by authority of the law, respondent Secretary contends that he has the duty to promote
the program of voluntary blood donation. Certainly, his act of encouraging the public to donate blood
voluntarily and educating the people on the risks associated with blood coming from a paid donor
promotes general health and welfare and which should be given more importance than the
commercial businesses of petitioners.[34]

On July 29, 1999, interposing personal and substantial interest in the case as taxpayers and citizens, a
Petition-in-Intervention was filed interjecting the same arguments and issues as laid down by
petitioners in G.R. No. 133640 and 133661, namely, the unconstitutionality of the Acts, and, the
issuance of a writ of prohibitory injunction. The intervenors are the immediate relatives of individuals
who had died allegedly because of shortage of blood supply at a critical time.[35]
The intervenors contended that Republic Act No. 7719 constitutes undue delegation of
legislative powers and unwarranted deprivation of personal liberty.[36]
In a resolution, dated September 7, 1999, and without giving due course to the aforementioned
petition, the Court granted the Motion for Intervention that was filed by the above intervenors
on August 9, 1999.
In his Comment to the petition-in-intervention, respondent Secretary of Health stated that the
sale of blood is contrary to the spirit and letter of the Act that blood donation is a humanitarian act
and blood transfusion is a professional medical service and not a sale of commodity (Section 2[a] and
[b] of Republic Act No. 7719). The act of selling blood or charging fees other than those allowed by
law is even penalized under Section 12.[37]

Thus, in view of these, the Court is now tasked to pass upon the constitutionality of Section 7 of
Republic Act No. 7719 or the National Blood Services Act of 1994 and its Implementing Rules and
Regulations.
In resolving the controversy, this Court deems it necessary to address the issues and/or
questions raised by petitioners concerning the constitutionality of the aforesaid Act in G.R. No. 133640
and 133661 as summarized hereunder:

I
WHETHER OR NOT SECTION 7 OF R.A. 7719 CONSTITUTES UNDUE
DELEGATION OF LEGISLATIVE POWER;

II
WHETHER OR NOT SECTION 7 OF R.A. 7719 AND ITS IMPLEMENTING
RULES AND REGULATIONS VIOLATE THE EQUAL PROTECTION CLAUSE;

III
WHETHER OR NOT SECTION 7 OF R.A. 7719 AND ITS IMPLEMENTING
RULES AND REGULATIONS VIOLATE THE NON-IMPAIRMENT CLAUSE;

IV
WHETHER OR NOT SECTION 7 OF R.A. 7719 AND ITS IMPLEMENTING
RULES AND REGULATIONS CONSTITUTE DEPRIVATION OF
PERSONAL LIBERTYAND PROPERTY;

V
WHETHER OR NOT R.A. 7719 IS A VALID EXERCISE OF POLICE POWER;
and,

VI
WHETHER OR NOT SECTION 7 OF R.A. 7719 AND ITS IMPLEMENTING
RULES AND REGULATIONS TRULY SERVE PUBLIC WELFARE.
As to the first ground upon which the constitutionality of the Act is being challenged, it is the
contention of petitioners that the phase out of commercial or free standing blood banks is
unconstitutional because it is an improper and unwarranted delegation of legislative power.
According to petitioners, the Act was incomplete when it was passed by the Legislature, and the latter
failed to fix a standard to which the Secretary of Health must conform in the performance of his
functions. Petitioners also contend that the two-year extension period that may be granted by the
Secretary of Health for the phasing out of commercial blood banks pursuant to Section 7 of the Act
constrained the Secretary to legislate, thus constituting undue delegation of legislative power.
In testing whether a statute constitutes an undue delegation of legislative power or not, it is
usual to inquire whether the statute was complete in all its terms and provisions when it left the hands
of the Legislature so that nothing was left to the judgment of the administrative body or any other
appointee or delegate of the Legislature.[38] Except as to matters of detail that may be left to be filled
in by rules and regulations to be adopted or promulgated by executive officers and administrative
boards, an act of the Legislature, as a general rule, is incomplete and hence invalid if it does not lay
down any rule or definite standard by which the administrative board may be guided in the exercise
of the discretionary powers delegated to it.[39]
Republic Act No. 7719 or the National Blood Services Act of 1994 is complete in itself. It is clear
from the provisions of the Act that the Legislature intended primarily to safeguard the health of the
people and has mandated several measures to attain this objective. One of these is the phase out of
commercial blood banks in the country. The law has sufficiently provided a definite standard for the
guidance of the Secretary of Health in carrying out its provisions, that is, the promotion of public
health by providing a safe and adequate supply of blood through voluntary blood donation. By its
provisions, it has conferred the power and authority to the Secretary of Health as to its execution, to
be exercised under and in pursuance of the law.
Congress may validly delegate to administrative agencies the authority to promulgate rules
and regulations to implement a given legislation and effectuate its policies.[40] The Secretary of Health
has been given, under Republic Act No. 7719, broad powers to execute the provisions of said Act.
Section 11 of the Act states:

SEC. 11. Rules and Regulations. The implementation of the provisions of the Act shall
be in accordance with the rules and regulations to be promulgated by the Secretary,
within sixty (60) days from the approval hereof
This is what respondent Secretary exactly did when DOH, by virtue of the administrative
bodys authority and expertise in the matter, came out with Administrative Order No.9, series of 1995
or the Rules and Regulations Implementing Republic Act No. 7719. Administrative Order. No. 9
effectively filled in the details of the law for its proper implementation.

Specifically, Section 23 of Administrative Order No. 9 provides that the phase-out period for
commercial blood banks shall be extended for another two years until May 28, 1998 based on the result
of a careful study and review of the blood supply and demand and public safety. This power to
ascertain the existence of facts and conditions upon which the Secretary may effect a period of
extension for said phase-out can be delegated by Congress. The true distinction between the power to
make laws and discretion as to its execution is illustrated by the fact that the delegation of power to
make the law, which necessarily involves a discretion as to what it shall be, and conferring an
authority or discretion as to its execution, to be exercised under and in pursuance of the law. The first
cannot be done; to the latter no valid objection can be made.[41]

In this regard, the Secretary did not go beyond the powers granted to him by the Act when
said phase-out period was extended in accordance with the Act as laid out in Section 2 thereof:
SECTION 2. Declaration of Policy In order to promote public health, it is
hereby declared the policy of the state:

a) to promote and encourage voluntary blood donation by the citizenry


and to instill public consciousness of the principle that blood donation is a
humanitarian act;

b) to lay down the legal principle that the provision of blood for
transfusion is a medical service and not a sale of commodity;
c) to provide for adequate, safe, affordable and equitable distribution of
blood supply and blood products;

d) to inform the public of the need for voluntary blood donation to curb
the hazards caused by the commercial sale of blood;

e) to teach the benefits and rationale of voluntary blood donation in the


existing health subjects of the formal education system in all public and
private schools as well as the non-formal system;

f) to mobilize all sectors of the community to participate in mechanisms


for voluntary and non-profit collection of blood;
g) to mandate the Department of Health to establish and organize a
National Blood Transfusion Service Network in order to rationalize and
improve the provision of adequate and safe supply of blood;

h) to provide for adequate assistance to institutions promoting voluntary


blood donation and providing non-profit blood services, either through a
system of reimbursement for costs from patients who can afford to pay, or
donations from governmental and non-governmental entities;

i) to require all blood collection units and blood banks/centers to


operate on a non-profit basis;

j) to establish scientific and professional standards for the operation of


blood collection units and blood banks/centers in the Philippines;

k) to regulate and ensure the safety of all activities related to the


collection, storage and banking of blood; and,

l) to require upgrading of blood banks/centers to include preventive


services and education to control spread of blood transfusion transmissible
diseases.

Petitioners also assert that the law and its implementing rules and regulations violate the equal
protection clause enshrined in the Constitution because it unduly discriminates against commercial
or free standing blood banks in a manner that is not germane to the purpose of the law.[42]

What may be regarded as a denial of the equal protection of the laws is a question not always easily
determined. No rule that will cover every case can be formulated. Class legislation, discriminating
against some and favoring others is prohibited but classification on a reasonable basis and not made
arbitrarily or capriciously is permitted. The classification, however, to be reasonable: (a) must be based
on substantial distinctions which make real differences; (b) must be germane to the purpose of the
law; (c) must not be limited to existing conditions only; and, (d) must apply equally to each member
of the class.[43]
Republic Act No. 7719 or The National Blood Services Act of 1994, was enacted for the
promotion of public health and welfare. In the aforementioned study conducted by the New Tropical
Medicine Foundation, it was revealed that the Philippine blood banking system is disturbingly
primitive and unsafe, and with its current condition, the spread of infectious diseases such as malaria,
AIDS, Hepatitis B and syphilis chiefly from blood transfusion is unavoidable. The situation becomes
more distressing as the study showed that almost 70% of the blood supply in the country is sourced
from paid blood donors who are three times riskier than voluntary blood donors because they are
unlikely to disclose their medical or social history during the blood screening.[44]
The above study led to the passage of Republic Act No. 7719, to instill public consciousness of
the importance and benefits of voluntary blood donation, safe blood supply and proper blood
collection from healthy donors. To do this, the Legislature decided to order the phase out of
commercial blood banks to improve the Philippine blood banking system, to regulate the supply and
proper collection of safe blood, and so as not to derail the implementation of the voluntary blood
donation program of the government. In lieu of commercial blood banks, non-profit blood banks or
blood centers, in strict adherence to professional and scientific standards to be established by the
DOH, shall be set in place.[45]
Based on the foregoing, the Legislature never intended for the law to create a situation in
which unjustifiable discrimination and inequality shall be allowed. To effectuate its policy, a
classification was made between nonprofit blood banks/centers and commercial blood banks.

We deem the classification to be valid and reasonable for the following reasons:
One, it was based on substantial distinctions. The former operates for purely humanitarian reasons
and as a medical service while the latter is motivated by profit. Also, while the former wholly
encourages voluntary blood donation, the latter treats blood as a sale of commodity.
Two, the classification, and the consequent phase out of commercial blood banks is germane
to the purpose of the law, that is, to provide the nation with an adequate supply of safe blood by
promoting voluntary blood donation and treating blood transfusion as a humanitarian or medical
service rather than a commodity. This necessarily involves the phase out of commercial blood banks
based on the fact that they operate as a business enterprise, and they source their blood supply from
paid blood donors who are considered unsafe compared to voluntary blood donors as shown by the
USAID-sponsored study on the Philippine blood banking system.
Three, the Legislature intended for the general application of the law. Its enactment was not
solely to address the peculiar circumstances of the situation nor was it intended to apply only to the
existing conditions.
Lastly, the law applies equally to all commercial blood banks without exception.
Having said that, this Court comes to the inquiry as to whether or not Republic Act No. 7719
constitutes a valid exercise of police power.
The promotion of public health is a fundamental obligation of the State. The health of the people is a
primordial governmental concern. Basically, the National Blood Services Act was enacted in the
exercise of the States police power in order to promote and preserve public health and safety.
Police power of the state is validly exercised if (a) the interest of the public generally, as
distinguished from those of a particular class, requires the interference of the State; and, (b) the means
employed are reasonably necessary to the attainment of the objective sought to be accomplished and
not unduly oppressive upon individuals.[46]
In the earlier discussion, the Court has mentioned of the avowed policy of the law for the
protection of public health by ensuring an adequate supply of safe blood in the country through
voluntary blood donation. Attaining this objective requires the interference of the State given the
disturbing condition of the Philippine blood banking system.
In serving the interest of the public, and to give meaning to the purpose of the law, the
Legislature deemed it necessary to phase out commercial blood banks. This action may seriously affect
the owners and operators, as well as the employees, of commercial blood banks but their interests
must give way to serve a higher end for the interest of the public.

The Court finds that the National Blood Services Act is a valid exercise of the States police
power. Therefore, the Legislature, under the circumstances, adopted a course of action that is both
necessary and reasonable for the common good. Police power is the State authority to enact legislation
that may interfere with personal liberty or property in order to promote the general welfare.[47]
It is in this regard that the Court finds the related grounds and/or issues raised by petitioners, namely,
deprivation of personal liberty and property, and violation of the non-impairment clause, to be
unmeritorious.
Petitioners are of the opinion that the Act is unconstitutional and void because it infringes on
the freedom of choice of an individual in connection to what he wants to do with his blood which
should be outside the domain of State intervention. Additionally, and in relation to the issue of
classification, petitioners asseverate that, indeed, under the Civil Code, the human body and its organs
like the heart, the kidney and the liver are outside the commerce of man but this cannot be made to
apply to human blood because the latter can be replenished by the body. To treat human blood equally
as the human organs would constitute invalid classification. [48]
Petitioners likewise claim that the phase out of the commercial blood banks will be
disadvantageous to them as it will affect their businesses and existing contracts with hospitals and
other health institutions, hence Section 7 of the Act should be struck down because it violates the non-
impairment clause provided by the Constitution.
As stated above, the State, in order to promote the general welfare, may interfere with personal
liberty, with property, and with business and occupations. Thus, persons may be subjected to certain
kinds of restraints and burdens in order to secure the general welfare of the State and to this
fundamental aim of government, the rights of the individual may be subordinated.[49]

Moreover, in the case of Philippine Association of Service Exporters, Inc. v. Drilon,[50] settled is the rule
that the non-impairment clause of the Constitution must yield to the loftier purposes targeted by the
government. The right granted by this provision must submit to the demands and necessities of the
States power of regulation. While the Court understands the grave implications of Section 7 of the law
in question, the concern of the Government in this case, however, is not necessarily to maintain profits
of business firms. In the ordinary sequence of events, it is profits that suffer as a result of government
regulation.
Furthermore, the freedom to contract is not absolute; all contracts and all rights are subject to
the police power of the State and not only may regulations which affect them be established by the
State, but all such regulations must be subject to change from time to time, as the general well-being
of the community may require, or as the circumstances may change, or as experience may demonstrate
the necessity.[51] This doctrine was reiterated in the case of Vda. de Genuino v. Court of Agrarian
Relations[52] where the Court held that individual rights to contract and to property have to give way
to police power exercised for public welfare.

As for determining whether or not the shutdown of commercial blood banks will truly serve the
general public considering the shortage of blood supply in the country as proffered by petitioners, we
maintain that the wisdom of the Legislature in the lawful exercise of its power to enact laws cannot
be inquired into by the Court. Doing so would be in derogation of the principle of separation of
powers.[53]

That, under the circumstances, proper regulation of all blood banks without distinction in order to
achieve the objective of the law as contended by petitioners is, of course, possible; but, this would be
arguing on what the law may be or should be and not what the law is. Between is and ought there is a
far cry. The wisdom and propriety of legislation is not for this Court to pass upon.[54]
Finally, with regard to the petition for contempt in G.R. No. 139147, on the other hand, the Court finds
respondent Secretary of Healths explanation satisfactory. The statements in the flyers and posters
were not aimed at influencing or threatening the Court in deciding in favor of the constitutionality of
the law.

Contempt of court presupposes a contumacious attitude, a flouting or arrogant belligerence


in defiance of the court.[55] There is nothing contemptuous about the statements and information
contained in the health advisory that were distributed by DOH before the TRO was issued by this
Court ordering the former to cease and desist from distributing the same.

In sum, the Court has been unable to find any constitutional infirmity in the questioned
provisions of the National Blood Services Act of 1994 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations.
The fundamental criterion is that all reasonable doubts should be resolved in favor of the
constitutionality of a statute. Every law has in its favor the presumption of constitutionality. For a law
to be nullified, it must be shown that there is a clear and unequivocal breach of the Constitution. The
ground for nullity must be clear and beyond reasonable doubt.[56] Those who petition this Court to
declare a law, or parts thereof, unconstitutional must clearly establish the basis therefor. Otherwise,
the petition must fail.

Based on the grounds raised by petitioners to challenge the constitutionality of the National
Blood Services Act of 1994 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations, the Court finds that
petitioners have failed to overcome the presumption of constitutionality of the law. As to whether the
Act constitutes a wise legislation, considering the issues being raised by petitioners, is for Congress to
determine.[57]

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court renders judgment as follows:

1. In G.R. Nos. 133640 and 133661, the Court UPHOLDS THE


VALIDITY of Section 7 of Republic Act No. 7719, otherwise known as the National
Blood Services Act of 1994, and Administrative Order No. 9, Series of 1995 or the Rules
and Regulations Implementing Republic Act No. 7719. The petitions are DISMISSED.
Consequently, the Temporary Restraining Order issued by this Court on June 2, 1998,
is LIFTED.

2. In G.R. No. 139147, the petition seeking to cite the Secretary of Health
in contempt of court is DENIED for lack of merit.

No costs.

SO ORDERED.

Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U.S. 568 (1942)

Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire

No. 255

Argued February 5, 1942

Decided March 9, 1942

315 U.S. 568

APPEAL FROM THE SUPREME COURT OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

Syllabus

1. That part of c. 378, 2, of the Public Law of New Hampshire which forbids under penalty that any
person shall address "any offensive, derisive or annoying word to any other person who is lawfully in
any street or other public place," or "call him by any offensive or derisive name," was construed by
the Supreme Court of the State, in this case and before this case arose, as limited to the use in a
public place of words directly tending to cause a breach of the peace by provoking the person
addressed to acts of violence.

Held:

(1) That, so construed, it is sufficiently definite and specific to comply with requirements of due
process of law. P. 315 U. S. 573.

(2) That, as applied to a person who, on a public street, addressed another as a "damned Fascist"
and a "damned racketeer," it does not substantially or unreasonably impinge upon freedom of
speech. P. 315 U. S. 574.
(3) The refusal of the state court to admit evidence offered by the defendant tending to prove
provocation and evidence bearing on the truth or falsity of the utterances charged is open to no
constitutional objection. P. 315 U. S. 574.

2. The Court notices judicially that the appellations "damned racketeer" and "damned Fascist" are
epithets likely to provoke the average person to retaliation, and thereby cause a breach of the
peace. P. 315 U. S. 574

91 N.H. 310, 18 A.2d 754, affirmed.

APPEAL from a judgment affirming a conviction under a state law denouncing the use of offensive
words when addressed by one person to another in a public place.

Page 315 U. S. 569

MR. JUSTICE MURPHY delivered the opinion of the Court.

Appellant, a member of the sect known as Jehovah's Witnesses, was convicted in the municipal
court of Rochester, New Hampshire, for violation of Chapter 378, 2, of the Public Laws of New
Hampshire:

"No person shall address any offensive, derisive or annoying word to any other person who is
lawfully in any street or other public place, nor call him by any offensive or derisive name, nor make
any noise or exclamation in his presence and hearing with intent to deride, offend or annoy him, or to
prevent him from pursuing his lawful business or occupation."

The complaint charged that appellant,

"with force and arms, in a certain public place in said city of Rochester, to-wit, on the public sidewalk
on the easterly side of Wakefield Street, near unto the entrance of the City Hall, did unlawfully repeat
the words following, addressed to the complainant, that is to say, 'You are a God damned racketeer'
and 'a damned Fascist and the whole government of Rochester are Fascists or agents of Fascists,'
the same being offensive, derisive and annoying words and names."

Upon appeal, there was a trial de novo of appellant before a jury in the Superior Court. He was
found guilty, and the judgment of conviction was affirmed by the Supreme Court of the State. 91
N.H. 310, 18 A.2d 754.

By motions and exceptions, appellant raised the questions that the statute was invalid under the
Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States in that it placed an unreasonable
restraint on freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of worship, and because it was
vague and indefinite. These contentions were overruled, and the case comes here on appeal.

There is no substantial dispute over the facts. Chaplinsky was distributing the literature of his sect on
the streets

Page 315 U. S. 570

of Rochester on a busy Saturday afternoon. Members of the local citizenry complained to the City
Marshal, Bowering, that Chaplinsky was denouncing all religion as a "racket." Bowering told them
that Chaplinsky was lawfully engaged, and then warned Chaplinsky that the crowd was getting
restless. Some time later, a disturbance occurred and the traffic officer on duty at the busy
intersection started with Chaplinsky for the police station, but did not inform him that he was under
arrest or that he was going to be arrested. On the way, they encountered Marshal Bowering, who
had been advised that a riot was under way and was therefore hurrying to the scene. Bowering
repeated his earlier warning to Chaplinsky, who then addressed to Bowering the words set forth in
the complaint.

Chaplinsky's version of the affair was slightly different. He testified that, when he met Bowering, he
asked him to arrest the ones responsible for the disturbance. In reply, Bowering cursed him and told
him to come along. Appellant admitted that he said the words charged in the complaint, with the
exception of the name of the Deity.

Over appellant's objection, the trial court excluded, as immaterial, testimony relating to appellant's
mission "to preach the true facts of the Bible," his treatment at the hands of the crowd, and the
alleged neglect of duty on the part of the police. This action was approved by the court below, which
held that neither provocation nor the truth of the utterance would constitute a defense to the charge.

It is now clear that

"Freedom of speech and freedom of the press, which are protected by the First Amendment from
infringement by Congress, are among the fundamental personal rights and liberties which are
protected by the Fourteenth Amendment from invasion by state

Page 315 U. S. 571

action."

Lovell v. Griffin, 303 U. S. 444, 303 U. S. 450. [Footnote 1] Freedom of worship is similarly
sheltered. Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U. S. 296, 310 U. S. 303.

Appellant assails the statute as a violation of all three freedoms, speech, press and worship, but only
an attack on the basis of free speech is warranted. The spoken, not the written, word is involved.
And we cannot conceive that cursing a public officer is the exercise of religion in any sense of the
term. But even if the activities of the appellant which preceded the incident could be viewed as
religious in character, and therefore entitled to the protection of the Fourteenth Amendment, they
would not cloak him with immunity from the legal consequences for concomitant acts committed in
violation of a valid criminal statute. We turn, therefore, to an examination of the statute itself.

Allowing the broadest scope to the language and purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment, it is well
understood that the right of free speech is not absolute at all times and under all circumstances.
[Footnote 2] There are certain well defined and narrowly limited classes of speech, the prevention

Page 315 U. S. 572

and punishment of which have never been thought to raise any Constitutional problem. [Footnote 3]
These include the lewd and obscene, the profane, the libelous, and the insulting or "fighting" words --
those which, by their very utterance, inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace.
[Footnote 4] It has been well observed that such utterances are no essential part of any exposition of
ideas, and are of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be derived from
them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality. [Footnote 5]
"Resort to epithets or personal abuse is not in any proper sense communication of information or
opinion safeguarded by the Constitution, and its punishment as a criminal act would raise no
question under that instrument."

Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U. S. 296, 310 U. S. 309-310.

The state statute here challenged comes to us authoritatively construed by the highest court of New
Hampshire. It has two provisions -- the first relates to words or names addressed to another in a
public place; the second refers to noises and exclamations. The court said:

"The two provisions are distinct. One may stand separately from the other. Assuming, without
holding, that the second were unconstitutional, the first could stand if constitutional."

We accept that construction of severability and limit our consideration to the first provision of the
statute. [Footnote 6]

Page 315 U. S. 573

On the authority of its earlier decisions, the state court declared that the statute's purpose was to
preserve the public peace, no words being "forbidden except such as have a direct tendency to
cause acts of violence by the persons to whom, individually, the remark is addressed." [Footnote 7] It
was further said:

"The word 'offensive' is not to be defined in terms of what a particular addressee thinks. . . . The test
is what men of common intelligence would understand would be words likely to cause an average
addressee to fight. . . . The English language has a number of words and expressions which, by
general consent, are 'fighting words' when said without a disarming smile. . . . [S]uch words, as
ordinary men know, are likely to cause a fight. So are threatening, profane or obscene revilings.
Derisive and annoying words can be taken as coming within the purview of the statute as heretofore
interpreted only when they have this characteristic of plainly tending to excite the addressee to a
breach of the peace. . . . The statute, as construed, does no more than prohibit the face-to-face
words plainly likely to cause a breach of the peace by the addressee, words whose speaking
constitutes a breach of the peace by the speaker -- including 'classical fighting words,' words in
current use less 'classical' but equally likely to cause violence, and other disorderly words, including
profanity, obscenity and threats."

We are unable to say that the limited scope of the statute as thus construed contravenes the
Constitutional right of free expression. It is a statute narrowly drawn and limited to define and punish
specific conduct lying within the domain of state power, the use in a public place of words likely to
cause a breach of the peace. Cf. Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U. S. 296, 310 U. S. 311; Thornhill v.
Alabama,

Page 315 U. S. 574

310 U. S. 88, 310 U. S. 105. This conclusion necessarily disposes of appellant's contention that the
statute is so vague and indefinite as to render a conviction thereunder a violation of due process. A
statute punishing verbal acts, carefully drawn so as not unduly to impair liberty of expression, is not
too vague for a criminal law. Cf. Fox v. Washington 236 U.S. 273, 236 U. S. 277. [Footnote 8]

Nor can we say that the application of the statute to the facts disclosed by the record substantially or
unreasonably impinges upon the privilege of free speech. Argument is unnecessary to demonstrate
that the appellations "damned racketeer" and "damned Fascist" are epithets likely to provoke the
average person to retaliation, and thereby cause a breach of the peace.

The refusal of the state court to admit evidence of provocation and evidence bearing on the truth or
falsity of the utterances is open to no Constitutional objection. Whether the facts sought to be proved
by such evidence constitute a defense to the charge, or may be shown in mitigation, are questions
for the state court to determine. Our function is fulfilled by a determination that the challenged
statute, on its face and as applied, doe not contravene the Fourteenth Amendment.

Affirmed.

[Footnote 1]

See also Bridges v. California, 314 U. S. 252; Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U. S. 296,310 U. S.
303; Thornhill v. Alabama, 310 U. S. 88, 310 U. S. 95; Schneider v. State,308 U. S. 147, 308 U. S.
160; De Jonge v. Oregon, 299 U. S. 353, 299 U. S. 364; Grosjean v. American Press Co., 297 U. S.
233, 297 U. S. 243; Near v. Minnesota, 283 U. S. 697, 283 U. S. 707; Stromberg v. California, 283
U. S. 359, 283 U. S. 368; Whitney v. California, 274 U. S. 357, 274 U. S. 362, 274 U. S. 371, 274 U.
S. 373; Gitlow v. New York, 268 U. S. 652, 268 U. S. 666.

Appellant here pitches his argument on the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

[Footnote 2]

Schenck v. United States, 249 U. S. 47; Whitney v. California, 274 U. S. 357, 274 U. S.
373 (Brandeis, J., concurring); Stromberg v. California, 283 U. S. 359; Near v. Minnesota, 283 U. S.
697; De Jonge v. Oregon, 299 U. S. 353; Herndon v. Lowry, 301 U. S. 242; Cantwell v.
Connecticut, 310 U. S. 296.

[Footnote 3]

The protection of the First Amendment, mirrored in the Fourteenth, is not limited to the Blackstonian
idea that freedom of the press means only freedom from restraint prior to publication. Near v.
Minnesota, 283 U. S. 697, 283 U. S. 714-715.

[Footnote 4]

Chafee, Free Speech in the United States (1941), 149.

[Footnote 5]

Chafee, op. cit., 150.

[Footnote 6]

Since the complaint charged appellant only with violating the first provision of the statute, the
problem of Stromberg v. California, 283 U. S. 359, is not present.

[Footnote 7]
State v. Brown, 68 N.H. 200, 38 A. 731; State v. McConnell, 70 N.H. 294, 47 A. 267.

[Footnote 8]

We do not have here the problem of Lanzetta v. New Jersey, 306 U. S. 451. Even if the
interpretative gloss placed on the statute by the court below be disregarded, the statute had been
previously construed as intended to preserve the public peace by punishing conduct the direct
tendency of which was to provoke the person against whom it was directed to acts of violence. State
v. Brown, 68 N.H. 200, 38 A.731 (1894).

G.R. Nos. L-24444-45 July 29, 1968

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
ROMEO DORIQUEZ, defendant-appellant.

Office of the Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.


Gregorio M. Rubias for defendant-appellant.

CASTRO, J.:

The appellant Romeo Doriquez, on August, 28, 1964, was charged with the offense of grave oral
defamation before the Court of First Instance of Iloilo, by virtue of an information which recites: .

That on or about April 22, 1964, in the Municipality of Batad, Province of Iloilo, Philippines,
and within the jurisdiction of this Court, the above-named defendant, with deliberate intent of
bringing Attorney Sixto Demaisip into discredit, disrepute and public contempt, did then and
there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously speak and utter in a loud voice and in the presence
of many persons against the said Attorney Demaisip the following insulting and defamatory
words and expressions to wit: "Tonto ka nga klase sang tao, quin pierde mo ang asunto ko,
nagastohan ako sing linibo sang ulihi nag pabakal ikaw kay Purita; pasuguiron ka P30.00
lang ang nabayad ko pero linibo ang gasto ko," which, translated into English runs as
follows: "You are a foolish class of person, you had to lose my case, I spent thousands of
pesos and later you allowed yourself to be sold to Purita; you had been telling people that I
paid you only P30.00 when I spent thousand of pesos for my case," and other similar words
of import.

Six days later, or on September 3, 1964, the same Doriquez was indicted before the same court for
discharge of firearm, committed, in the language of the information, as follows:

That on or about April 22, 1964, in the Municipality of Batad, Province of Iloilo, Philippines,
and within the jurisdiction of this Court, the said accused, armed with a revolver and without
intent to kill, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously discharge twice said
revolver at one Attorney Sixto Demaisip.

Upon arraignment, he pleaded not guilty to the two indictments. On December 3, 1964 he moved to
dismiss both informations, claiming that (1) the court a quo has no jurisdiction over the offense of
grave oral defamation in virtue of Republic Act 3828 which enlarged the original exclusive jurisdiction
of city and municipal courts; and (2) the institution of the criminal action for discharge of firearm
places him in double jeopardy or he had already been in jeopardy once in the municipal court of
Batad, Iloilo which dismissed, without his consent, the information charging him with the offense of
alarm and scandal, allegedly based on the self-same facts relied upon by Fiscal Simeon A. Barranco
in support of the aforesaid information for discharge of firearm.

In its order of March 8, 1965 the court a quo denied the motion to dismiss. The subsequent motion
for reconsideration was likewise denied by the trial court in its order of March 20, 1965. From these
two orders, the present appeal was interposed.

It is our view, in the first instance, that the appeal is premature.

Section 2 of Rule 41 of the Revised Rules of Court provides:

Only final judgments or orders shall be subject to appeal. No interlocutory or incidental


judgment or order shall stay the progress of an action, nor shall it be the subject of an appeal
until final judgment or order is rendered for one party or the other.

Construing the aforequoted section, this Court has repeatedly and uniformly held that a judgment or
order may be appealed only when it is final in the sense that it completely disposes of the cause
and definitively adjudicates the respective rights of the parties, leaving thereafter no substantial
proceeding to be had in connection with the case except the proper execution of the judgment or
order; and that, conversely, an interlocutory order or judgment is not appealable for it does not
decide the action with finality and leaves substantial proceedings still to be had.1 It is an elementary
rule of adjective law that an order denying a motion to dismiss is interlocutory, hence not appealable,
because it "does not terminate the proceedings, nor finally dispose of the contentions of the
parties."2 An order, for example, rejecting a motion to dismiss based on lack of jurisdiction3 is
interlocutory because after such denial proceedings of substance are still to be had by the trial court,
such as hearing of the case on the merits and rendition of final judgment.

The latest unequivocal restatement of the rule that interlocutory orders are not appealable was made
in Ramos vs. Ardant Trading Corporation.4 Concluding that the appeal therein was premature, Mr.
Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion emphasized that "the orders denying defendant's motion for
dismissal and its subsequent motion for reconsideration are interlocutory in nature, and hence, not
appealable until after the rendition of judgment on that, merits. Defendant's appeal contravenes the
explicit provisions of Rule 41, Section 2, of the Rules of Court ... which, moreover, incorporates a
well-established rule of practice and procedure, constituting one of the main tenets of our remedial
law." In order to stress its disapproval of appeals from interlocutory orders, this Court, in the
aforementioned case, assessed treble costs against the appellant therein, jointly and severally, with
its counsel.

The rationale underlying the rule that an interlocutory order is not appealable is, basically, the
avoidance of "multiplicity of appeals in a single case." If very interlocutory order or judgment may be
appealed, and the appeal stays the progress of the action, there could arise countless appeals in a
single case, and the magnitude and extent of the delay in the final disposition thereof will be such
that, conceivably, in a number of instances, the parties may not survive the case.5 This Court has
consistently frowned upon and has firmly stricken down piecemeal appeals, "because it [piece-
meal appeal] delays the speedy disposition of the case, and is often resorted to as a means of
draining the resources of the poorer party and of compelling it to submit out of sheer exhaustion,
even if its demands should be conformable to reason and justice."6
Two alternative remedies were forthwith available to Doriquez after the denial of his motion for
reconsideration, namely, (1) proceed immediately to trial on the merits and interpose as integral part
of his defense the grounds stated in his motion to dismiss, and, in the event of an adverse decision,
appeal to the proper Court for resolution of all pertinent issues, including those he has posed in the
present appeal; (2) interpose a petition for certiorari to enable this Court to dispose, on the merits,
the issues raised herein, anchoring said petition on the twin grounds that (a) the court a quo acted
without jurisdiction or in excess of its jurisdiction in taking cognizance of the offense of grave oral
defamation, and (b) the trial judge committed grave abuse of discretion in refusing to dismiss the
information for discharge of firearm in the face of his avowal that the said indictment places him in
peril of a second jeopardy. This latter action should of course be availed of with candor and absolute
absence of deviousness, with no intention (howsoever disguised) of causing undue delay.

Because, however, all the cogent issues are now before us, we will treat the instant appeal as a
petition for certiorari. This positive and pragmatic approach will definitively resolve the contentions of
Doriquez and thus dissipate any and all speculation on the part of all concerned as to the
correctness of their respective positions. 1wph1.t

1. Doriquez maintains that the municipal court of Batad, Iloilo, not the Court of First instance of Iloilo,
has original exclusive jurisdiction over the offense of grave oral defamation which, under article 358
of the Revised Penal Code, is punishable by arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision
correccional in its minimum period, reasoning that the exclusive original jurisdiction of municipal and
city courts has been enlarged by Republic Act No. 3828 to include offenses for which the penalty
provided by law is imprisonment for not more than three years, or a fine of not more than three
thousand pesos, or both such imprisonment and fine.

The appellant is in error.

The rule is now beyond all area of dispute that in view of the latest amendment to section 87(c) of
the Judiciary Act of 1948 and also taking into account the unaltered provisions of section 44(f) of the
same Act, the zone of concurrent jurisdiction of municipal and city courts and courts of first instance
has been considerably widened. This jurisdictional parity embraces all offenses for which the penalty
provided by law is imprisonment for more than six months but not exceeding three years (for six
years with respect to city courts and municipal courts in the capitals of provinces and sub-
provinces vis-a-vis the courts of first instance), or a fine of more than two hundred pesos but not
exceeding three thousand pesos (or six thousand pesos in the proper cases), or both such
imprisonment and fine. This confluence of jurisdiction was first clearly etched in Esperat vs. Avila, et
al,.7 and the rule in that case was affirmed in Le Hua Sia vs. Reyes,8 and Andico vs. Roan, et al.9

In Esperat vs. Avila, Mr. Justice J.B.L. Reyes delineated with specificity the respective jurisdictional
boundaries of the various trial courts. Said Mr. Justice Reyes:

The fallacy in petitioner's argument lies in his failure to consider section 44(f) of the same
Judiciary Act of 1948, in conjunction with its section 87(c). Note that notwithstanding the
various amendments received by section 87, section 44(f) remained unaltered, thereby
indicating the intention of the legislators to retain the original jurisdiction of the court of first
instance in certain cases. The fact that the jurisdiction of the municipal or city courts was
enlarged in virtue of the amendment of section 87(c), cannot be taken as a repeal or
withdrawal of the jurisdiction conferred on the court of first instance. Not only is implied
repeal disfavored by the law, but also, it is a cardinal principle that a statute must be so
construed as to harmonize all apparent conflict's, and give effect to all its provision whenever
possible.
Actually, there is nothing irreconcilable between sections 44(f) and 87(c) of the Judiciary Act.

As therein provided the court of first instance was given original jurisdiction over cases where
the penalty prescribed by law is imprisonment for fore more than 6 months or fine of more
than P200.00; the justices of the peace and municipal or city courts of chartered cities, over
cases where the penalty is imprisonment for not more than 3 years, and fine of not more
than P3,000.00. In other words, where the prescribed penalty is imprisonment for more than
6 months, but not exceeding 3 years, or fine of more than P200.00 but not exceeding
P3,000.00 the justice of the peace or municipal court only has concurrent (and not exclusive)
original jurisdiction with the court of first instance. And, it may be stated that this concurrent
jurisdiction between the inferior courts, and the court of first instance was not provided for the
first time in Republic Act No. 3828. Under Republic Act 2613, crimes the penalties for which
do not exceed 3 years, or fine of not more than P3,000.00, were specifically placed within the
jurisdiction of the justice of the peace and municipal courts, concurrent with the court of first
instance.

It follows, therefore, that the exclusive original jurisdiction of the justice of the peace and
municipal courts is confined only to cases where the prescribed penalty is imprisonment for 6
months or less, or fine of P200.00 or less, whereas, the exclusive original jurisdiction of the
court of first instance covers cases where the penalty is incarceration for more than 3 years
(or 6 years in the case of city courts and municipal courts in provincial capitals), or fine of
more than P3,000.00 (or P6,000.00 in proper cases), or both such imprisonment and fine.
Between these exclusive jurisdictions lies a zone where the jurisdiction is concurrent. This is
the proper construction to be placed on the provisions involved herein, regardless of what
may have been the prior rulings on the matter.

The offense of grave oral defamation which carries a maximum penalty of prision correccional in its
minimum period (or incarceration not exceeding 2 years and 4 months) falls within the above-
described zone of concurrent jurisdiction. Consequently, the court a quo did not err in assuming
jurisdiction.

2. Doriquez likewise contends that the filing of the information for discharge of firearm has placed
him in peril of double jeopardy as he had previously been charged with the offense of alarm and
scandal in a complaint filed in the municipal court of Batad, Iloilo, upon the same facts which
constitute the basis of the indictment for discharge of firearm. The said complaint, which was
allegedly dismissed without his consent, recites:

That on or about 12:00 p.m, April 21, 1964, at the gate in front of the Municipal Building,
Poblacion, Batad, Iloilo, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
above-named accused did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously with deliberate
intent to cause alarm in the public, discharge his License Revolver caliber .22 SN-368383
one on the ground and one into the air within the town limits and without any justifiable
purpose thus causing alarm upon the general public.

This plea of Doriquez is obviously untenable.

For double jeopardy to attach in his favor, the accused must prove, among other things, that there is
"identity of offenses," so that, in the language of section 9, Rule 117 of the Revised Rules of Court,
his "conviction or acquittal ... or the dismissal of the case (without his express consent) shall be a bar
to another prosecution for the same offense charged or for any attempt to, commit the same or
frustration thereof, or for any offense which necessarily includes or is necessarily included in the
offense charged in the former complaint or information." It is altogether evident, however, that the
offense of discharge of firearm is not the crime of alarm and scandal, nor is it an attempt or a
frustration of the latter felony. Neither may it be asserted that every crime of discharge of firearm
produces the offense of alarm and scandal. Nor could the reverse situation be true, for the less
grave felony of discharge of firearm does not include or subsume the offense of alarm and scandal
which is a light felony.

Although the indictment for alarm and scandal filed under article 155(1) of the Revised Penal Code
and the information for discharge of firearm instituted under article 258 of the same Code are closely
related in fact (as the two apparently arose from the same factual setting, the firing of a revolver by
the accused being a common element), they are definitely diverse in law. Firstly, the two indictments
do not describe the same felony - alarm and scandal is an offense against public order while
discharge of firearm is a crime against persons. Secondly, the indispensable element of the former
crime is the discharge of a firearm calculated to cause alarm or danger to the public, while the
gravamen of the latter is the discharge of a firearm against or at a certain person, without intent to
kill.

The plea of double jeopardy cannot therefore be accorded merit, as the two indictments are perfectly
distinct in point of law howsoever closely they may appear to be connected in fact.10

It is a cardinal rule that the protection against double jeopardy may be invoked only for the same
offense11 or identical offense.12 A single act may offend against two (or more) entirely distinct and
unrelated provisions of law, and if one provision requires proof of an additional fact or element which
the other does not, an acquittal or conviction or a dismissal of the information under one does not
bar prosecution under the other.13 Phrased elsewise, where two different laws (or articles of the
same code) define two crimes, prior jeopardy as to one of them is no obstacle to a prosecution of the
other, although both offenses arise from the same facts, if each crime involves some important act
which is not an essential element of the other.14

In the case at bar, granting that the two indictments arose from the same act a contention
traversed by the State they describe and constitute, nevertheless, essentially different felonies
having fundamentally diverse indispensable elements. Hence, there can be no such "identity of
offenses" as would support the suggestion that double jeopardy has ensued. The trial judge,
therefore, did not commit abuse of discretion in refusing to dismiss the information for discharge of
firearm.

In sum, we hold that the instant appeal is premature, and that even if it were treated as a petition
for certiorari the contentions and arguments of the appellant cannot be accorded credit.

ACCORDINGLY, the present appeal is dismissed. This case is hereby ordered remanded to the
court of origin for immediate trial on the merits. Costs against the appellant.

[G.R. No. 142675. July 22, 2005]

VICENTE AGOTE Y MATOL, petitioner, vs. HON. MANUEL F. LORENZO, Presiding Judge, RTC,
Branch 43, Manila and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,respondents.
DECISION
GARCIA, J.:

In this appeal by way of a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court,
petitioner Vicente Agote y Matol seeks to annul and set aside the following resolutions of the Court
of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 2991-UDK, to wit:
1. Resolution dated September 14, 1999,[1] dismissing the Petition for Certiorari with
Prayer for the Issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order filed by the petitioner against
the Honorable Manuel F. Lorenzo, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Manila, Branch
43 for refusing to retroactively apply in his favor Republic Act No. 8294[2]; and,
2. Resolution dated February 8, 2000,[3] denying petitioners motion for reconsideration.
As culled from the pleadings on record, the following are the undisputed factual antecedents:
Petitioner Vicente Agote y Matol was earlier charged before the sala of respondent judge with
Illegal Possession of Firearms under Presidential Decree No. 1866[4] and violation of COMELEC
Resolution No. 2826[5] (Gun Ban), docketed as Criminal Cases No. 96-149820 and 96-149821,
respectively, allegedly committed, as follows:

CRIMINAL CASE NO. 96-149820

That on or about April 27, 1996 in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused did then and there
willfully, unlawfully, knowingly have in possession and under his custody and control, One (1) .38 cal. Rev.
without serial no. with four (4) live bullets. Without first having secured from the proper authorities the
necessary license therefor.

CONTRARY TO LAW.

CRIMINAL CASE NO. 96-149821

That on or about April 27, 1996, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused did then and there,
willfully, unlawfully and knowingly have in his possession and under his custody and control one (1) .38 cal.
Rev. without serial number, with four (4) live ammunition/bullets in the chamber, by then and there carrying
the same along V. Mapa Ext. Sta. Mesa, this City, which is a public place on the aforesaid date which is
covered by an election period, without first securing the written authority from the COMELEC, as provided for
by the COMELEC Resolution No. 2828, in relation to RA No. 7166 (Gun Ban).

CONTRARY TO LAW.

On arraignment, petitioner pleaded Not Guilty to both charges. Thereafter, the two (2) cases were
tried jointly.
Eventually, in a decision dated May 18, 1999, the trial court rendered a judgment of conviction in
both cases, separately sentencing petitioner to an indeterminate penalty of ten (10) years and one (1)
day of prision mayor, as minimum, to eighteen (18) years eight (8) months and one (1) day of reclusion
temporal, as maximum, in accordance with PD. No. 1866 in Crim. Case No. 96-149820 (illegal
possession of firearm), and to a prison term of one (1) year in Crim. Case No. 96-149821 (violation
of the COMELEC Resolution on gun ban).
Meanwhile, on June 6, 1997, Republic Act No. 8294[6] was approved into law.
Pointing out, among others, that the penalty for illegal possession of firearms under P.D. No. 1866
has already been reduced by the subsequent enactment of Rep. Act No. 8294, hence, the latter law,
being favorable to him, should be the one applied in determining his penalty for illegal possession of
firearms, petitioner moved for a reconsideration of the May 18, 1999 decision of the trial court.
In its order dated July 15, 1999,[7] however, the trial court denied petitioners motion, saying:

While the law (R.A. 8294) is indeed favorable to the accused and therefore should be made retroactive we are
also guided by Art. 4 of the Civil Code which states that laws shall have no retroactive effect, unless the
contrary is provided. Republic Act 8294 did not so provide that it shall have a retroactive effect. The Supreme
Court likewise in the case of Padilla vs. CA declared: The trial court and the respondent court are bound to
apply the governing law at the time of the appellants commission of the offense for it is a rule that laws are
repealed only by subsequent ones. Indeed, it is the duty of judicial officers to respect and apply the law as it
stands.

Therefrom, petitioner went to the Court of Appeals on a petition for certiorari with prayer for a
temporary restraining order, thereat docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 2991-UDK.
In the herein assailed resolution dated September 14, 1999,[8] the appellate court dismissed
petitioners recourse on two (2) grounds, to wit: (a) the remedy of certiorari availed of by petitioner is
improper since he should have appealed from the July 15, 1999 order of the trial court; and (b) lack of
jurisdiction, as the issue involved is a pure question of law cognizable by the Supreme Court.
With his motion for reconsideration having been denied by the appellate court in its
subsequent resolution of February 8, 2000,[9] petitioner is now with us, submitting for resolution the
following issues: (1) whether the Court of Appeals erred in dismissing his petition for certiorari; and (2)
whether the courts below erred in not giving Rep. Act No. 8294 a retroactive application.
The petition is partly meritorious.
At the outset, it must be stressed that petitioner never put in issue the factual findings of the trial
court. What he questions is said courts legal conclusion that Rep. Act No. 8294 cannot be retroactively
applied to him. Unquestionably, the issue raised is one purely of law. As we have said
in Macawiwili Gold Mining and Development Co., Inc. v. Court of Appeals:[10]

For a question to be one of law, the same must not involve an examination of the probative value of the
evidence presented by the litigants or any one of them. And the distinction is well-known: there is a question
of law in a given case when the doubt or difference arises as to what the law is on a certain state of facts; there
is a question of fact when the doubt or difference arises as to the truth or the falsehood of the facts alleged.

Considering that judgments of regional trial courts in the exercise of their original jurisdiction are
to be elevated to the Court of Appeals in cases when appellant raises questions of fact or mixed
questions of fact and law, while appeals from judgments of the [same courts] in the exercise of their
original jurisdiction must be brought directly to the Supreme Court in cases where the appellant raises
only questions of law[11], petitioner should have appealed the trial courts ruling to this Court by way of
a petition for review on certiorari in accordance with Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as
amended,[12] pursuant to Rule 41, Section 2 (c) of the same Rules, viz:

SEC. 2. Modes of appeal.

(a) xxx xxx xxx


(b) xxx xxx xxx
(c) Appeal by certiorari. In all cases where only questions of law are raised or involved, the
appeal shall be to the Supreme Court by petition for review on certiorari in accordance
with Rule 45.
By reason, then, of the availability to petitioner of the remedy of a petition for review under Rule
45, his right to resort to a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 was effectively foreclosed, precisely
because one of the requirements for the availment of the latter remedy is that there should be no
appeal, or any plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law,[13] the remedies of
appeal and certiorari being mutually exclusive and not alternative or successive.[14]
As correctly observed by the Court of Appeals, what petitioner should have done was to take an
appeal from the trial courts order of July 15, 1999 which denied his motion for reconsideration of the
May 18, 1999 judgment of conviction.
Petitioners case is worse compounded by the fact that even his period for appeal had already
prescribed when he filed with the Court of Appeals his certiorari petition in CA-G.R. SP No. 2991-UDK.
The Rollo of said case reveals that petitioner received his copy of the trial courts order denying his
motion for reconsideration on July 20, 1999. As the same Rollo shows, it was only on August 23,
1999, or after more than fifteen (15) days when petitioner filed his wrong remedy of certiorari with the
appellate court.
Be that as it may, the Court feels that it must squarely address the issue raised in this case
regarding the retroactivity of Rep. Act No. 8294, what with the reality that the provisions thereof are
undoubtedly favorable to petitioner. For this purpose, then, we shall exercise our prerogative to set
aside technicalities in the Rules and hold the bull by its horns, so to speak. After all, the power of this
Court to suspend its own rules whenever the interest of justice requires is not without legal authority
or precedent. In Solicitor General, et. al. vs. The Metropolitan Manila Authority,[15] we held:

Unquestionably, the Court has the power to suspend procedural rules in the exercise of its inherent power, as
expressly recognized in the Constitution, to promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice and procedure in
all courts. In proper cases, procedural rules may be relaxed or suspended in the interest of substantial justice,
which otherwise may be miscarried because of a rigid and formalistic adherence to such rules. xxx

xxx xxx xxx

We have made similar rulings in other cases, thus:

Be it remembered that rules of procedure are but mere tools designed to facilitate the attainment of justice.
Their strict and rigid application, which would result in technicalities that tend to frustrate rather than promote
substantial justice, must always be avoided. xxx Time and again, this Court has suspended its own rules and
excepted a particular case from their operation whenever the higher interests of justice so require.

We shall now proceed to determine whether the provisions of Rep. Act No. 8294 amending P.D.
No. 1866 can be retroactively applied to this case.
Here, the two (2) crimes for which petitioner was convicted by the trial court, i.e., (1) illegal
possession of firearms under P.D. No. 1866 and (2) violation of COMELEC Resolution No. 2826 on
gun ban, were both committed by the petitioner on April 27, 1996. For the crime of illegal possession
of firearms in Crim. Case No. 96-149820, he was sentenced to suffer a prison term ranging from ten
(10) years and one (1) day of prision mayor, as minimum, to (18) eighteen years, eight (8) months and
one (1) day of reclusion temporal, as maximum, in accordance with P.D. No. 1866, Section 1 of which
reads:
SECTION 1. Unlawful Manufacture, Sale, Acquisition, Disposition or Possession of Firearms or Ammunition
or Instruments Used or Intended to be Used in the Manufacture of Firearms of Ammunition. The penalty of
reclusion temporal in its maximum period to reclusion perpetua shall be imposed upon any person who
shall unlawfully manufacture, deal in, acquire, dispose, or possess any firearm, part of firearm, ammunition or
machinery, tool or instrument used or intended to be used in the manufacture of any firearm or ammunition.
(Emphasis supplied)

When Rep. Act No. 8294 took effect on July 6, 1997,[16] the penalty for illegal possession of
firearms was lowered, depending on the class of firearm possessed, viz:

SECTION 1. Section 1 of Presidential Decree No. 1866, as amended, is hereby further amended to read as
follows:

SECTION 1. Unlawful Manufacture, Sale, Acquisition, Disposition or Possession of Firearms or Ammunition


or Instruments Used or Intended to be Used in the Manufacture of Firearms or Ammunition. The penalty of
prision correccional in its maximum period and a fine of not less than Fifteen thousand pesos (P15,000)
shall be imposed upon any person who shall unlawfully manufacture, deal in, acquire, dispose, or possess any
low powered firearm, such as rimfire handgun, .380 or .32 and other firearm of similar firepower, part of
firearm, ammunition, or machinery, tool or instrument used or intended to be used in the manufacture of any
firearm or ammunition: Provided, That no other crime was committed.

The penalty of prision mayor in its minimum period and a fine of Thirty thousand pesos (P30,000) shall be
imposed if the firearm is classified as high powered firearm which includes those with bores bigger in diameter
than .38 caliber and 9 millimeter such as caliber .40, .41, .44, .45 and also lesser calibered firearms but
considered powerful such as caliber .357 and caliber .22 center-fire magnum and other firearms with firing
capability of full automatic and by burst of two or three: Provided, however, That no other crime was
committed by the person arrested. (Emphasis supplied)

Based on the foregoing, petitioner contends that the reduced penalty under Rep. Act No. 8294
should be the one imposed on him. Significantly, in its Manifestation In Lieu of Comment,[17] the
Office of the Solicitor General agrees with the petitioner, positing further that the statement made by
this Court in People vs. Jayson[18] to the effect that the provisions for a lighter penalty under Rep. Act
No. 8294 does not apply if another crime has been committed, should not be applied to this case
because the proviso in Section 1 of said law that no other crime was committed must refer only to
those crimes committed with the use of an unlicensed firearm and not when the other crime is not
related to the use thereof or where the law violated merely criminalizes the possession of the same,
like in the case of election gun ban, as here.
As early as August 1997, the month after Rep. Act No. 8294 took effect,[19] this Court has
pronounced in Gonzales vs. Court of Appeals[20] that said law must be given retroactive effect in favor
of those accused under P.D. No. 1866. Since then, this Court had consistently adhered to
the Gonzales ruling.[21]
For sure, in People vs. Valdez,[22] where the accused was charged with the complex crime of
multiple murder with double frustrated murder and illegal possession of firearms and ammunitions
under two separate informations, this Court even took a bolder stance by applying Rep. Act No. 8294
retroactively so that the accused therein may not be convicted of the separate crime of illegal
possession of firearms, but refused to apply the same retroactively so as to aggravate the crime of
murder. The Valdez ruling had been applied in a host of subsequent cases.[23]
Yet, in other cases,[24] although the Court had given Rep. Act No. 8294 retroactive effect so as to
prevent the conviction of an accused of the separate crime of illegal possession of firearm when the
said unlicensed firearm was used to commit the crime of murder or homicide, the Court did
not appreciate this use of such unlicensed firearm as an aggravating circumstance as provided therein,
when the use of an unlicensed firearm was not specifically alleged in the information, as required by
the Rules on Criminal Procedure.
In the light of the existing rulings and jurisprudence on the matter, the present case takes center
stage presenting, this time, another twist, so to speak. Petitioner, who was charged of illegal
possession of firearms was also charged of another offense: Violation of COMELEC Resolution No.
2826 (Gun Ban), but the unlicensed firearm was not used or discharged in this case. The question
then which appears to be of first impression, is whether or not the unlicensed firearm should be actually
used and discharged in the course of committing the other crime in order that Sec. 1, Rep. Act No.
8294 will apply so that no separate crime of illegal possession of firearms may be charged.
Let us take a look at the jurisprudence once again. In Cupcupin vs. People,[25] the accused was
charged and convicted for two (2) separate crimes of illegal possession of firearms, and illegal
possession of prohibited drugs. In the more recent case of People vs. Almeida,[26] however, although
the accused was acquitted of the separate charge of illegal possession of firearm for lack of evidence,
the Court nevertheless made the following clear pronouncement:

Furthermore, in any event, the Court has ruled in previous cases that in view of the enactment of Republic Act
No. 8294, there can be no separate offense of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition if there is
another crime committed such as, in this case, that of illegal possession of dangerous drugs. (Emphasis
supplied)

In Almeida, it should be noted that the unlicensed firearm was merely found lying around, together
with the prohibited drugs, and therefore, was not being used in the commission of an offense.
Given this Courts aforequoted pronouncement in Almeida, can the accused in the present case
still be separately convicted of two (2) offenses of illegal possession of firearms and violation of gun
ban, more so because as in Almeida, the unlicensed firearm was not actually used or discharged in
committing the other offense?
In People vs. Walpan M. Ladjaalam,[27] this Court, interpreting the subject proviso in Section 1 of
Rep. Act No. 8294, applied the basic principles in criminal law, and categorically held:

xxx A simple reading thereof shows that if an unlicensed firearm is used in the commission of any crime,
there can be no separate offense of simple illegal possession of firearms. Hence, if the other crime is
murder or homicide, illegal possession of firearms becomes merely an aggravating circumstance, not a
separate offense. Since direct assault with multiple attempted homicide was committed in this case, appellant
can no longer be held liable for illegal possession of firearms.

Moreover, penal laws are construed liberally in favor of the accused. In this case, the plain meaning of RA
8294s simple language is most favorable to herein appellant. Verily, no other interpretation is justified, for the
language of the new law demonstrates the legislative intent to favor the accused. Accordingly, appellant cannot
be convicted of two separate offenses of illegal possession of firearms and direct assault with attempted
homicide. xxx

xxx xxx xxx

xxx The law is clear: the accused can be convicted of simple illegal possession of firearms, provided that no
other crime was committed by the person arrested. If the intention of the law in the second paragraph were to
refer only to homicide and murder, it should have expressly said so, as it did in the third paragraph. Verily,
where the law does not distinguish, neither should we.(Emphasis supplied).

The aforementioned ruling was reiterated and applied in the subsequent cases of People vs.
Garcia,[28] where the judgment of conviction of the accused-appellants for illegal possession of
firearms was set aside there being another crime kidnapping for ransom which they were perpetrating
at the same time; People vs. Bernal,[29] where the Court retroactively applied Rep. Act No. 8294 in
accused-appellants favor because it would mean his acquittal from the separate offense of illegal
possession of firearms; and People vs. Bustamante,[30]where, in refusing to convict the accused-
appellant of the separate offense of illegal possession of firearms, the Court declared that insofar as
it is favorable to the appellant, the provisions of Rep. Act No. 8294 should be applied liberally and
retroactively in that appellant must be acquitted of the charge of illegal possession of firearms.
Guided by the foregoing, the Court cannot but set aside petitioners conviction in Criminal Case
No. 96-149820 for illegal possession of firearm since another crime was committed at the same
time, i.e., violation of COMELEC Resolution No. 2826 or the Gun Ban.
Admittedly, this ruling is not without misgivings considering that it would mean petitioners acquittal
of the more serious offense of illegal possession of firearms which carries a much heavier penalty than
violation of the COMELEC gun-ban resolution. However, as we have rationalized in Ladjaalam:[31]

xxx Indeed, the accused may evade conviction for illegal possession of firearms by using such weapons in
committing an even lighter offense, like alarm and scandal or slight physical injuries, both of which are
punishable by arresto menor. This consequence, however, necessarily arises from the language of RA 8294,
whose wisdom is not subject to the Courts review. Any perception that the result reached here appears unwise
should be addressed to Congress. Indeed, the Court has no discretion to give statutes a new meaning detached
from the manifest intendment and language of the legislature. Our task is constitutionally confined only to
applying the law and jurisprudence to the proven facts, and we have done so in this case.

The solemn power and duty of the Court to interpret and apply the law does not include the power
to correct by reading into the law what is not written therein. While we understand
respondent Peoples contention that the use of the firearm seemed to have been the main
consideration during the deliberations of the subject provision of Rep. Act No. 8294, the fact remains
that the word use never found its way into the final version of the bill which eventually became Rep.
Act No. 8294. The Courts hands are now tied and it cannot supply the perceived deficiency in the final
version without contravening the most basic principles in the interpretation of penal laws which had
always leaned in favor of the accused. Under our system of government where powers are allocated
to the three (3) great branches, only the Legislature can remedy such deficiency, if any, by proper
amendment of Sec. 1 of Rep. Act No. 8294.
As written, Sec. 1, Rep. Act No. 8294 restrains the Court from convicting petitioner of the separate
crime of illegal possession of firearm despite the fact that, as in Almeida, the unlicensed firearm was
not actually used. For sure, there is, in this case, closer relation between possession of unlicensed
firearm and violation of the COMELEC gun-ban than the illegal possession of unlicensed firearm to
the crime of illegal possession of prohibited drugs in Almeida.
WHEREFORE, Criminal Case No. 96-149820 for illegal possession of firearms is hereby
DISMISSED while the judgment of conviction in Criminal Case No. 96-149821 for violation of
COMELEC Resolution No. 2826 in relation to Rep. Act No. 7166 (Gun Ban), is AFFIRMED.
Since petitioner has already served more than the penalty imposed upon him by the trial court in
Criminal Case No. 96-149821, his immediate release from custody is hereby ORDERED unless
detained for some other lawful cause.
SO ORDERED.

[G.R. Nos. 136149-51. September 19, 2000]


PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee, vs. WALPAN LADJAALAM y MIHAJIL alias
WARPAN, appellant.

DECISION
PANGANIBAN, J.:

Republic Act No. 8294 penalizes simple illegal possession of firearms, provided that the person
arrested committed no other crime. Furthermore, if the person is held liable for murder or homicide,
illegal possession of firearms is an aggravating circumstance, but not a separate offense. Hence,
where an accused was convicted of direct assault with multiple attempted homicide for firing an
unlicensed M-14 rifle at several policemen who were about to serve a search warrant, he cannot be
held guilty of the separate offense of illegal possession of firearms.Neither can such unlawful act be
considered to have aggravated the direct assault.

The Case

Walpan Ladjaalam y Mihajil, also known as Warpan, appeals before us the September 17, 1998
Decision[1] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Zamboanga City (Branch 16), which found him guilty
of three out of the four charges lodged against him.
Filed against appellant were four Informations,[2] all signed by Assistant Regional State
Prosecutor Ricardo G. Cabaron and dated September 25, 1997. The first Information[3] was for
maintaining a den for the use of regulated drugs. It reads as follows:

That on or about September 24, 1997, in the City of Zamboanga, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, Walpan Ladjaalam being then the owner of a residential house
located at Rio Hondo,[4] this City, conspiring and confederating together, mutually aiding and assisting
x x x his co-accused wife Nur-in Ladjaalam and Ahmad Sailabbi y Hajaraini, did then and there
wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously, maintain said house as a den, where regulated drug [was] used in
any form.[5]

The second Information[6] charged appellant with illegal possession of firearms and
ammunition. We quote it below:

That on or about September 24, 1997, in the City of Zamboanga, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring and confederating together, mutually aiding and
assisting with one another, without any justifiable reason or purpose other than to use it in the commission of
crime, did then and there, wilfully, unlawfully, and feloniously have in their possession and under their
custody and control, the following weapons, to wit: one (1) M14 rifle with SN 1555225 with magazines and
seven (7) rounds of live ammunition; two (2) magazines with twenty (20) and twenty[-one] (21) rounds of live
[ammunition]; one (1) homemade caliber .38 revolver with five (5) live ammunition; one (1) M-79 (single)
rifle with pouch and with five (5) empty shell[s]; one (1) home made caliber .38 with SN-311092 with five live
ammunition and one empty shell of [a] cal. 38 x x x Smith and Wesson; two (2) .38 Caliber paltik revolver
with Serial Number 311092 and one defaced M79 grenade launcher paltik, without first having obtained the
necessary license and or permit therefor from authorities concerned, in flagrant violation of the aforementioned
law.[7]

The third Information,[8] for multiple attempted murder with direct assault, was worded thus:
That on or about September 24, 1997, in the City of Zamboanga, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused being then armed with M-14 Armalite Rifles, M-16 Armalite
Rifles and other assorted firearms and explosives, conspiring and confederating together, mutually aiding and
assisting x x x one another and with intent to kill, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously try
and attempt to kill SPO1 WILLIAM B. JONES, JR., PO3 ENRIQUE C. RIVERA[,] SPO1 AMADO A.
MIRASOL, JR., and SPO1 RICARDO J. LACASTESANTOS, in the following manner, to wit: by then and
there firing their M-14 x x x Armalite Rifles, M-16 Armalite Rifles and other assorted firearms and explosives,
aimed and directed at the fatal parts of the bodies of the above-named police officers, well known to the
accused as members of the Philippine National Police, Zamboanga City Police Office, and as such, agents of a
person in authority, who at the time of the attack were engaged in the performance of their duties, that is, on
the occasion when said officers were about to serve the Search Warrant legally issued by the Regional Trial
Court, this City, to the person of the accused thus commencing the commission of crime of multiple murder
directly by overt acts, and if the accused did not accomplish their unlawful purpose, that is, to kill the above-
named Police Officers, it was not by reason of their own voluntary desistance but rather because of the fact
that all the above-named police officers were able to seek cover during the firing and were not hit by the
bullets and explosives fired by the accused and also by the fact said police officers were able to wrestle with
two (2) of the accused namely: Walpan Ladjaalam y Mihajil a.k.a. Warpan and Ahmad Sailabbi y Hajairani,
who were subdued and subsequently placed under arrest; whereas accused PO2 Nurhakim T. Hadjula was able
to make good his escape and has remained at-large.[9]

In the fourth Information, appellant was charged with illegal possession of drugs.[10]
On December 21, 1997, the cases against Nur-in Ladjaalam and Ahmad Sailabbi y Hajaraini were
dismissed upon motion of the Office of the City Prosecutor, which had conducted a reinvestigation of
the cases as ordered by the lower court. The accused were consequently released from jail.
The arraignment of appellant on all four (4) charges took place on January 6, 1998, during which
he entered a plea of not guilty.[11] After pretrial, the assailed Decision was rendered, the dispositive
part of which reads:

WHEREFORE, the Court finds accused WALPAN LADJAALAM y MIHAJIL a.k.a. WARPAN -

1. in Criminal Case No. 14636, GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT of Violation of Section 15-A,
Article III, of Republic Act No. 6425, otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as amended, and
SENTENCES said accused to the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA and to pay a fine of FIVE
HUNDRED THOUSAND (P500,000.00) and to pay the costs;

2. In Criminal Case No. 14637, NOT GUILTY of Violation of Section 16, Article III, in relation to Section
21, Article IV, of Republic Act No. 6425, otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as amended,
and ACQUITS him of said crime with costs de oficio;

3. in Criminal Case No. 14638, GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT of the crime of Illegal
Possession of Firearm and Ammunition penalized under Presidential Decree No. 1866, as amended by
Republic Act. No. 8294, and SENTENCES said accused to suffer an indeterminate penalty of SIX (6)
YEARS of prision correccional as minimum to EIGHT (8) YEARS of prision mayor as maximum and to pay
a fine [of] THIRTY THOUSAND (P30,000.00) and pay the costs;

4. in Criminal Case No. 14639, GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT of the crime of Direct Assault
with Multiple Attempted Homicide and SENTENCES said accused to an indeterminate penalty of TWO (2)
YEARS and FOUR (4) MONTHS of prision correccional as minimum to SIX (6) YEARS of prision
correccional as maximum and to pay a fine of ONE THOUSAND (P1,000.00) and to pay the costs. (emphasis
in the original)
Hence, this appeal.[12]

The Facts
Prosecutions Version

In its Brief,[13] the Office of the Solicitor General presents the facts in this wise:

At 1:45 p.m. of September 24, 1997, PO3 Allan Marcos Obut filed an application for the issuance of a search
warrant against appellant, his wife and some John Does (Exh. C). After the search warrant was issued about
2:30 p.m. of the same day, a briefing was conducted inside the office of the Anti-Vice/Narcotics Unit of the
Zamboanga City Police Office in connection with the service of the search warrant.The briefing was conducted
by SPO2 Felipe Gaganting, Chief of the Anti-Vice/Narcotics Unit. During the briefing, PO3 Renato Dela Pea
was assigned as presentor of the warrant. SPO1 Ricardo Lacastesantos and PO3 Enrique Rivera were
designated to conduct the search. Other policemen were assigned as perimeter guards (TSN, March 3, 1998,
pp. 33-36).

After the briefing, more than thirty (30) policemen headed by Police Superintendent Edwin Soledad proceeded
to the house of appellant and his wife at Rio Hondo on board several police vehicles (TSN, March 4, 1998, p.
32; April 22, 1998, p. 54). Before they could reach appellants house, three (3) persons sitting at a nearby store
ran towards the house shouting, [P]olice, raid, raid (Ibid., March 3, 1998, pp. 41, 43-44; April 23, 1998, p.
4). When the policemen were about ten (10) meters from the main gate of the house, they were met by a rapid
burst of gunfire coming from the second floor of the house. There was also gunfire at the back of the house
(Ibid., March 5, 1998, pp. 14-16).

SPO1 Mirasol, SPO2 Lacastesantos, PO3 Rivera, and PO3 Dela Pea who were with the first group of
policemen saw appellant fire an M14 rifle towards them. They all knew appellant. When they were fired upon,
the group, together with SPO2 Gaganting, PO3 Obut and Superintendent Soledad, sought cover at the concrete
fence to observe the movements at the second floor of the house while other policemen surrounded the house
(Ibid., March 4, 1998, pp. 50-51).

In front of the house was an extension building connected to the concrete fence (Ibid., pp. 45-46, 57-59, 73-
76). Gaganting, Mirasol, Lacastesantos, Gregorio, and Obut entered the door of the extension
building. Gaganting opened the main (steel) gate of the house. The other members of the team then
entered. Lacastesantos and Mirasol entered the house through the main door and went inside the sala of the
ground floor while other policemen surrounded the house. Two (2) old women were in the sala together with a
young girl and three (3) children. One of the old women took the children to the second floor while the young
girl remained seated at the corner (Ibid., pp. 19-21).

Lacastesantos and Mirasol proceeded to the second floor where they earlier saw appellant firing an M14 rifle at
them through the window. While they were going upstairs, appellant noticed their presence. He went inside the
bedroom and, after breaking and removing the jalousies, jumped from the window to the roof of a neighboring
house. Seeing this, Mirasol rushed downstairs and asked help from the other members of the raiding team to
arrest appellant. Lacastesantos went to the second floor and shouted to the policemen outside not to fire in the
direction of the second floor because there were children. Mirasol and SPO1 Cesar Rabuya arrested appellant
at the back of his house after a brief chase (Ibid., pp. 21-23).

At the second floor, Lacastesantos saw an M14 rifle (Exh. B-3) with magazine on top of the sofa at the sala on
the second floor (Ibid., P. 27). The rifle bore Serial No. 1555225. He removed the magazine from the rifle and
the bullet inside the chamber of the rifle. He counted seventeen (17) live ammunition inside the magazine. He
saw two (2) more M14 rifle magazines on the sofa, one with twenty (20) live ammunition (Exh. G-3) and
another with twenty-one (21) live ammunition (Exh. G-4). He likewise saw three (3) M16 rifle magazines
(Exh. G-2) in a corner at the second floor (TSN, March 5, 1998, pp. 23-32, 53-57).

After Lacastesantos and Mirasol entered appellants house, Rivera, Dela Pea, Gregorio and Obut followed and
entered the house. After identifying themselves as members of the PNP Anti-Vice/Narcotics Unit, Obut
presented to the old women a copy of the search warrant. Dela Pea and Rivera then searched appellants room
on the ground floor in the presence of Punong Barangay Elhano (TSN, March 3, 1998, pp. 41-43). On top of a
table was a pencil case (Exh. J) with fifty (50) folded aluminum foils inside (Exhs. J-1 to J-50), each
containing methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu.

Other items were found during the search, namely, assorted coins in different denominations (Exh. W; TSN,
April 28, 1998, pp. 23-25), one (1) homemade .38 caliber revolver (Exh. B-2) with five (5) live [ammunition],
one (1) M79 single rifle with [a] pouch containing five (5) empty shells of an M79 rifle (Exh. B-4), and one (1)
empty shell of an M14 rifle (TSN, April 23, 1998, pp. 30-32).

Rino Bartolome Locson was an informer of the Anti-Vice/Narcotics Unit of the Zamboanga Police. [O]n the
morning of September 24, 1997, he was instructed by SPO2 Gaganting to go to appellants house to buy
shabu. Locson knew appellant as a seller of shabu (TSN, April 22, 1998, p. 5) and had been to appellants
house about fifteen (15) times before. He went to Rio Hondo and arrived at appellants house at 3:20 p.m. He
bought P300.00 worth of shabu from appellant. The latter got three (3) decks of shabu from his waist
bag. Appellant instructed Locson to go behind the curtain where there was a table. There were six (6) persons
already smoking. There was a lighted kerosene lamp made of a medicine bottle placed on the table. They asked
Locson to smoke shabu and Locson obliged. He placed the three (3) decks of shabu he bought on the table
(Ibid., pp. 8-15).

While they were smoking shabu, Locson heard gunfire coming from appellants house. They all stood and
entered appellants compound but were instructed to pass [through] the other side. They met appellant at the
back of his house. Appellant told them to escape because the police are already here. They scampered and ran
away because there were already shots. Locson jumped over the fence and ran towards the seashore. Upon
reaching a place near the Fisheries School, he took a tricycle and went home (Ibid., pp. 17-19).

The following day, September 25, 1997, he went to the police station and executed an affidavit (Exh. M)
narrating what transpired at appellants house [o]n the afternoon of September 24, 1997.

After the search and before returning to the police station, P03 Dela Pea prepared a Receipt for Property Seized
(Exh. P & 3) listing the properties seized during the search. The receipt was signed by Dela Pea as the seizure
officer, and by Punong Barangay Hadji Hussin Elhano and radio reporter Jun Cayona as witnesses. A copy of
the receipt was given to appellant but he refused to acknowledge the properties seized (TSN, April 23, 1998,
pp. 11-12).

An examination conducted by Police Inspector Mercedes D. Diestro, Forensic Chemist of the PNP Crime
Laboratory Service Office 9, on the paraffin casts taken from both hands of appellant yielded positive for
gunpowder nitrates (Exh. A-3), giving rise to the possibility that appellant had fired a gun before the
examination (TSN, March 3, 1998, p. 11). Gunpowder residue examinations conducted on September 26, 1997
showed that the following firearms were fired (Exh. B-5): a .38 caliber revolver (homemade) with Serial No.
311092 (Exh. B-1), another .38 caliber revolver (homemade) without a serial number (Exh. B-2), a Cal. 7.62
mm M14 U.S. rifle with Serial No. 1555225 (Exh. B-3), and an M79 rifle without a serial number (Exh. B-
4). They were fired within five (5) days prior to the examination (TSN, March 3, 1998, pp. 16-21).

With respect to the crystalline substances, an examination conducted by Police Inspector Susan M. Cayabyab,
likewise a Forensic Chemist of the PNP Crime Laboratory Service Office 9, on the fifty (50) pieces of folded
aluminum foils each containing white crystalline granules with a total weight of 1.7426 grams (Exh. J-1 to J-
50) yielded positive results for the presence of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) (Exh. L). However,
the examination of one (1) crystalline stone weighing 83.2674 grams (Exh. K) yielded negative results for the
presence of methamphetamine hydrochloride (Exh. L).

The records of the Regional Operation and Plans Division of the PNP Firearm and Explosive Section show
that appellant had not applied/filed any application for license to possess firearm and ammunition or x x x been
given authority to carry [a] firearm outside of his residence (Exh. X)[14]

Defenses Version

Appellant Ladjaalam agrees with the narration of facts given by the lower court.[15] Hence, we
quote the pertinent parts of the assailed Decision:

Accused Walpan Ladjaalam y Mihajil a.k.a. Warpan, 30 years old, married, gave his occupation as smuggling
(tsn, p. 2, May 4, 1998). He used to go to Labuan in Malaysia and bring cigarettes to the Philippines without
paying taxes (tsn, pp. 40-41, id). He said that his true name [was] Abdul Nasser Abdurakman and that Warpan
or Walpan Ladjaalam [was] only his alias. However, he admitted that more people kn[e]w him as Walpan
Ladjaalam rather than Abdul Nasser Abdurakman (tsn. pp. 39-40; 46-47, id). He testified that [o]n the
afternoon of September 24, 1997, when he was arrested by the police, he was sleeping in the house of Dandao,
a relative of his wife. He was alone. He slept in Dandaos house and not in his house because they ha[d] a sort
of a conference as Dandaos daughter was leaving for Saudi Arabia. He noticed the presence of policemen in
his neighborhood at Aplaya, Rio Hondo when he heard shots. He woke up and went out of the house and that
was the time that he was arrested. He said he was arrested xxx [at] the other side of my house; at the other side
of the fence where I was sleeping. xxx. At the back of my house (tsn, p. 7, id.). He does not know who arrested
him considering that the one who arrested me does not have nameplate. He was arrested by four (4)
persons. Not one of those who arrested him testified in Court. He was handcuffed and placed inside a jeep
parked at Rio Hondo Elementary School. According to him, he did not fire a gun at the policemen from [t]he
second floor of his house. He said the policemen [were] the one[s] who fire[d] at us (tsn, p. 5, id.). If he fired a
gun at the policemen for sure they [would] die [b]ecause the door is very near x x x the vicinity of my
house. He does not own the M14 rifle (Exh. B-3) which according to policemen, he used in firing at them. The
gun does not belong to him. He does not have a gun like that (tsn, p. 15, id.). A policeman also owns an M14
rifle but he does not know the policeman (tsn, pp. 16-17, id). He said that the M79 rifle (Exh. B-4), the three
(3) empty M16 rifle magazines (Exh. G; G-1 to G-2), the two (2) M14 magazines with live ammunition (Exh.
G-3; G-4); the two (2) caliber .38 revolvers (Exhs. B-1; B-2), the fifty (50) aluminum foils each containing
shabu (Exhs. J-1 to J-50) placed inside a pencil case (Exh. J, the assorted coins placed inside a blue bag (Exh.
W) and the white crystalline stone (Exh. K) all do not belong to him. He said that the policemen just produced
those things as their evidence. The firearms do not belong to him. They were brought by the policemen (tsn, p.
43, May 4, 1998). Regarding the blue bag containing assorted coins, he said: that is not ours, I think this (is)
theirs, xxx they just brought that as their evidence (tsn, pp. 15-24, id.)

Walpan Ladjaalam declared there were occupants who were renting his extension house. He affirmed that he
owns that house. Four (4) persons were staying in the extension house. He could only recognize the husband
whose name is Momoy. They are from Jolo. They left the place already because they were afraid when the
police raided the place. (tsn, pp. 8-10, May 4, 1998). He does not know prosecution witness Rino Locson y
Bartolome. Although Locson recognized him, in his case he does not know Locson and he does not recognize
him (tsn, p.11, id). He did not sell anything to Locson and did not entertain him. He is not selling shabu but he
knows for a fact that there are plenty of person who are engaged in selling shabu in that place, in that area
known as Aplaya, Rio Hondo. One of them is Hadji Agbi (tsn, pp.11-14, id).
After his arrest Walpan Ladjaalam was brought to the police station where he stayed for one day and one night
before he was transferred to the City jail. While at the police station, he was not able to take a bath. He smokes
two packs of cigarette a day. While he was at the police station, he smoked [a] cigarette given to him by his
younger sister. He lighted the cigarettes with [a] match. From the police station, he was brought to the PNP
Regional Office at R.T. Lim Boulevard where he was subject to paraffin examination (tsn, pp. 24-26, May 4,
1998).

During the raid conducted on his house, his cousin Boy Ladjaalam, Ating Sapadi, and Jecar (Sikkal) Usman,
the younger brother of his wife were killed. Walpan Ladjaalam said that he saw that it was the policeman who
shot them[,] only I do not know his name. They were killed at the back of his house. He said that no charges
were filed against the one responsible for their death (tsn, pp. 30-33- May 4, 1998).

Anilhawa Ahamad, more or less 80 years old, a widow was in the house of Walpan Ladjaalam whom he
calls Hadji Id at the time the police raided the house. She is the mother of Ahma Sailabbi. She was together
with Babo Dandan, two small children and a helper when soldiers entered the house. (W)hen they arrived, they
kept on firing (their guns) even inside the house (tsn, p.5, May 5, 1998). They were armed with short and long
firearms. They searched the house and scattered things and got what they wanted. They entered the room of
Walpan Ladjaalam. They tried to open a bag containing jewelry. When Anilhawa tried to bring the bag outside
the room, they grabbed the bag from her and poked a gun at her. At that time Walpan Ladjaalam was not in the
house. Ahamad Sailabbi was also not in the house. A Search Warrant was shown to Anilhawa after the search
was conducted and just before the policemen left the place. Anilhawa Ahamad said that it was already late in
the afternoon[;] before they left that was the time the Search Warrant (was) given to us by xxx Barangay
Captain Hussin Elhano (tsn, pp.6-8, May 5, 1998). Barangay Chairman Elhano arrived already late in the
afternoon, almost sundown (tsn, p. 9, id). Anilhaw declared that aside from a bag containing jewelry and a bag
full of money, she had not seen anything else that was taken from Walpan Ladjaalams house (tsn, pp. 9-12, id).

Akmad (Ahmad) Sailabbi, 37 years old, married testified that about 4:00 oclock [o]n the afternoon of
September 24, 1997, ha was standing in front of his house when policemen arrived and immediately arrested
him. He was about to go to the City Proper to buy articles he was intending to bring to Sabah. He had around
P50,000.00 placed inside a waist bag tied around his waist. The policemen told him to lie down in prone
position and a policeman searched his back. They pulled his waist bag and took his DiaStar wrist watch. He
was shot three times and was hit on the forehead leaving a scar. His injury was not treated. He was taken to the
police station where he was detained for one day and one night. He was detained at the City Jail for three
months and five days after which he was released (tsn, pp. 25-29, May 5, 1998).

Melba Usma, 20 years old, a widow, testified that [o]n the afternoon of September 24, 1997, she was in the
house of her parents lying together with her husband Sikkal Usma. There is only one house between her
parents house and the house of Walpan Ladjaalam. Her husband Sikkal Usman is the brother of Nur-in
Ladjaalam, Walpans wife. When Melba heard shots, she went downstairs. A policeman was looking for her
husband. The policeman called her husband. When her husband went down, he was instructed by the
policeman to lie down in prone position. Then the policeman shot her husband. The policeman had two other
companions who also shot her husband while he was lying down in prone position (tsn, pp.2-7, May 5, 1998).

Murkisa Usman, 30 years old, married, declared that [o]n the afternoon of September 24, 1997, she was sitting
at the door of her house watching her children playing when a motorcyle, driven by a person, stopped near her
house. The driver was Gaganting whom she called a soldier. He went down from his motorcycle, pulled a gun
and poked it at Murkisa. Murkisa stood up and raised her hands. She got her children and when she was about
to enter the room of her house, Gaganting again poked a gun at her and there was a shot. As a result of firing,
three persons died, namely, Sikkal Usman, Boy Ladjaalam and Atip Sapali Sali (tsn, pp. 8-10, May 5, 1998).

Barangay Captain Hadji Hussin Elhano, 51 years old, testified that about 4:00 o clock [o]n the afternoon of
September 24, 1997, he was fetched by two policemen at Catabangan where he was attending a
seminar. Because of traffic along the way, they arrived at the Rio Hondo already late in the afternoon. He saw
policemen were already inside the house. Upon entering the gate, he saw Walpan at the gate already
handcuffed. Walpan called him but the police advised him not to approach Walpan. The search was already
over and things were already taken inside the house. When he went inside the house, he saw the things that
they (policemen) searched, the firearms and the shabu (tsn, p. 17. May 8, 1998). He did not see the Search
Warrant. What was shown to him were the things recovered during the search which were being listed. They
were being counted and placed on a table. Upon seeing the things that were recovered during the search, I just
signed the receipt (Exh. P; P-1) of the things x x x taken during the search (tsn, pp. 17-18. May 8, 1998). He
saw three dead bodies at the side of the fence when he went to the other side of the house. The three persons
were killed outside the fence of Walpan Ladjaalam (tsn, p. 18, id).[16]

The Trial Courts Ruling

The trial court observed that the house of appellant was raided on September 24, 1997 by virtue
of Search Warrant No. 20 issued on the same day. However, the lower court nullified the said Warrant
because it had been issued for more than one specific offense,[17] in violation of Section 3, Rule 126
of the Rules of Court.[18] The court a quo ruled:

It should be stated at the outset that Search Warrant No. 20 is totally null and void because it was issued for
more than one specific offense x x x contrary to Section 3, Rule 1[2]6 of the Rules of Court which provides
that A search warrant shall not issue but upon probable cause in connection with one specific offense xxx. In
Tambasan vs. People, 246 SCRA 184 (1995), the Supreme Court ruled that a search warrant for more than one
offense - a scatter shot warrant - violates Section 3, Rule 126 of the [R]evised Rules of Court and is totally null
and void.[19] (emphasis in the original)

Nevertheless, the trial court deemed appellants arrest as valid. It emphasized that he had shot at
the officers who were trying to serve the void search warrant. This fact was established by the
testimonies of several police officers,[20] who were participants in the raid, and confirmed by the
laboratory report on the paraffin tests conducted on the firearms and appellant.[21]Additionally, the
judge noted that Appellant Ladjaalam, based on his statements in his Counter Affidavit, impliedly
contradicted his assertions in open court that there had been no exchange of gunfire during the
raid.[22] The trial court concluded that the testimonies of these officers must prevail over appellants
narration that he was not in his house when the raid was conducted.
Prescinding from this point, the court a quo validated the arrest of appellant, reasoning thus:

Under the circumstances, the policemen had authority to pursue and arrest Walpan Ladjaalam and confiscate
the firearm he used in shooting at the policemen and to enter his house to effect said arrest and confiscation of
the firearm. Under Rule 113, Section 5 (a), of the Rules of Court, A peace officer or a private person may,
without a warrant, arrest a person xxx (w)hen in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is
actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense. An offense is committed in the presence or within
the view of an officer, within the meaning of the rule authorizing an arrest without a warrant, when the officer
sees the offense, although at a distance, or hears the disturbances created thereby and proceeds at once to the
scene thereof. At the time the policemen entered the house of accused Walpan Ladjaalam after he had fired
shots at the policemen who intended to serve the Search Warrant to him, the accused was engaged in the
commission of a crime, and was pursued and arrested after he committed the crime of shooting at the
policemen who were about to serve the Search Warrant.[23]

As a consequence of the legal arrest, the seizure of the following was also deemed valid: the M14
rifle (with a magazine containing seventeen live ammunition)[24] used by appellant against the police
elements, two M14 magazines, and three other M16 rifle magazines.[25] The trial court observed that
these items were in plain view of the pursuing police officers.Moreover, it added that these same items
were evidence [of] the commission of a crime and/or contraband and therefore, subject to
seizure[26] since appellant had not applied for a license to possess firearm and had not been given
authority to carry firearm outside his residence.[27]
For being incredible and unsupported by evidence, appellants claim that the items that were
seized by the police officers had been planted was disbelieved by the trial court. It ruled that if the
police officers wanted to plant evidence to incriminate him, they could have done so during the
previous raids or those conducted after his arrest. To its mind, it was unbelievable that they would
choose to plant evidence, when they were accompanied by the barangay chairman and a radio
reporter who might testify against them. It then dismissed these allegations, saying that frame-up, like
alibi, was an inherently weak defense.[28]
The trial court also convicted the accused of the crime of maintaining a drug den. It reasoned as
follows:

The testimony of Rino Bartolome Locson, corroborated by SPO1 Ricardo Lacastesantos and SPO1 Amado
Mirasol, Jr. clearly established that Walpan Ladjaalam operated and maintained a drug den in his extension
house where shabu or methamphetamine hydrochloride, a regulated drug, was sold, and where persons or
customers bought and used shabu or methamphetamine hydrochloride by burning the said regulated drug and
sniffing its smoke with the use of an aluminum foil tooter. A drug den is a lair or hideaway where prohibited or
regulated drugs are used in any form or are found. Its existence [may be] proved not only by direct evidence
but may also be established by proof of facts and circumstances, including evidence of the general reputation
of the house, or its general reputation among police officers.The uncorroborated testimony of accused Walpan
Ladjaalam a.k.a. Warpan that he did not maintain an extension house or a room where drug users who
allegedly buy shabu from him inhales or smokes shabu cannot prevail over the testimonies of Locson, SPO1
Lacastesantos, and SPO1 Mirasol. He admitted that he is the owner of the extension house but he alleged that
there were four (4) occupants who rented that extension house. He knew the name of only one of the four
occupants who are allegedly from Jolo, a certain Momoy, the husband. Aside from being uncorroborated,
Walpans testimony was not elaborated by evidence as to when or for how long was the extension house rented,
the amount of rental paid, or by any other document showing that the extension house was in fact rented. The
defense of denial put up by accused Walpan Ladjaalam a.k.a. 'Warpan is a weak defense. Denial is the weakest
defense and cannot prevail over the positive and categorical testimonies of the prosecution witnesses.Denials,
if unsubstantiated by clear and convincing evidence, are negative and self-serving evidence which deserve no
weight in law and cannot be given evidentiary weight over the testimony of credible witnesses who testify on
affirmative matters. As between the positive declaration of the prosecution witnesses and the negative
statements of the accused, the former deserve more credence.[29]

In conclusion, the trial court explained appellants liability in this manner:

x x x. The act of the accused in firing an M14 rifle to the policemen who were about to enter his house to serve
a search warrant constitutes the crime of direct assault with multiple attempted homicide[,] not multiple
attempted murder with direct assault[,] considering that no policeman was hit and injured by the accused and
no circumstance was proved to qualify the attempted killing to attempted murder.

The accused Walpan Ladjaalam a.k.a. Warpan cannot be held liable [for] the crime of Violation of Section 16,
Article III, in relation to Section 21, Article IV, of Republic Act 6425 otherwise known as the Dangerous
Drugs Act of 1992, as amended, because the fifty (50) pieces of folded aluminum foils having a total weight of
1.7426 grams all containing methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu allegedly found in his house are
inadmissible as evidence against him considering that they were seized after [a] search conducted by virtue of
Search Warrant No. 20 which is totally null and void as it was issued for more than one offense, and were not
found in plain view of the police officers who seized them. Neither could the accused be held liable for illegal
possession of firearms and ammunition except for the (1) M14 rifle with Serial Number 1555225 and with
magazine containing fifteen (15) live ammunition and two more M14 rifle magazines with twenty (20) and
twenty-one (21) live ammunition respectively considering that the policemen who recovered or seized the
other firearms and ammunition did not testify in court. The blue bag containing assorted coins cannot be
returned to the accused Walpan Ladjaalam a.k.a. Warpan because according to the accused the blue bag and
assorted coins do not belong to him[;] instead the said assorted coins should be turned over to the National
Treasury.[30]

The Issues

In his Brief, appellant submits the following Assignment of Errors:


I

The trial court erred when it concluded that appellant Walpan Ladjaalam y Mihajil [had] fired first at the police
officers who went to his house to serve a search warrant upon him which led to an exchange of fire between
Ladjaalam and the police officer.

II

The trial court erred when it denied the appellant the right and opportunity for an ocular inspection of the scene
of the firefight and where the house of the appellant [was] located.

III

The trial court erred when it ruled that the presumption of regularity in the performance of their duties
[excluded] the claim of the appellant that the firearms and methamphetamine hydrochloride (i.e. shabu) were
planted by the police.[31]

In the interest of simplicity, we shall take up these issues seriatim: (a) denial of the request for
ocular inspection, (b) credibility of the prosecution witnesses, and (c) the defense of frame-up. In
addition, we shall also discuss the proper crimes and penalties to be imposed on appellant.

The Courts Ruling

The appeal has no merit.

First Issue: Denial of Request for Ocular Inspection

Appellant insists that the trial court erred in denying his request for an ocular inspection of the
Ladjaalam residence. He argues that an ocular inspection would have afforded the lower court a better
perspective and an idea with respect to the scene of the crime.[32] We do not agree.
We fail to see the need for an ocular inspection in this case, especially in the light of the clear
testimonies of the prosecution witnesses.[33] We note in particular that the defense had even requested
SPO1 Amado Mirasol Jr. to sketch the subject premises to give the lower court a fairly good idea of
appellants house.[34] Viewing the site of the raid would have only delayed the
proceedings.[35] Moreover, the question whether to view the setting of a relevant event has long been
recognized to be within the discretion of the trial judge.[36] Here, there is no reason to disturb the
exercise of that discretion.[37]

Second Issue: Credibility of Prosecution Witnesses

Appellant, in essence, questions the credibility of the prosecution witnesses.[38] Suffice it to state
that the trial courts assessment of their credibility is generally accorded respect, even finality.[39] After
carefully examining the records and finding no material inconsistencies to support appellants claim,
we cannot exempt this case from the general rule.[40] Quite the contrary, the testimonies of these
witnesses positively showed that appellant had fired upon the approaching police elements, and that
he had subsequently attempted to escape. SPO1 Amado Mirasol Jr.[41] testified thus:
PROSECUTOR NUVAL:
Q: And, this trail is towards the front of the house of the accused?
A: Yes.
Q: And its there where you were met by a volley of fire?
A: Yes, Your Honor.
COURT:
Q: How far were you from the concrete fen[c]e when you were met by a volley of fire? ... You said
you were fired upon?
A: More or less, five (5) meters.
xxxxxxxxx
PROSECUTOR NUVAL:
Q: Now, you said you were able to enter the house after the gate was opened by your colleague
Felipe Gaganting ... I will reform that question.
Q: Who opened the gate Mr. Witness?
A: SPO2 Felipe Gaganting, Efren Gregorio and Allan Marcos Obut.
Q: And, at that time you were hiding at the concrete fence?
A: Yes.
Q: Now, when this gate was opened, you said you went inside the house, right?
A: Yes.
Q: What did you see inside the house?
A: I, together with SPO1 Ricardo Lacastesantos, entered the main door of the house of Walfran
[sic] Ladjaalam at the ground floor. We went inside the sala on the ground floor of his house[;]
I saw two old woman.
xxxxxxxxx
PROSECUTOR NUVAL:
Q: Now, what did you do with these two old women?
A: I did not mind those two old women because those two women were sitting on the ground floor. I
was concentrating on the second floor because Ladjaalam was firing towards our group so, I,
together with Ricardo Lacastesantos, went upstairs to the second floor of the house.
Q: Were you able to go to the second floor of the house?
A: Yes.
Q: What happened when you were already on the second floor?
A: While we were proceeding to the second floor, Walfan [sic] Ladjaalam, noticed our presence
and immediately went inside the bedroom [o]n the second floor and he went immediately and
jumped from the window of his house x x x leading to the roof of the neighbors house.
xxxxxxxxx
COURT:
Reform. That is leading
Q: What happened when you entered and he jumped to the roofing of the neighbors house?
A: Immediately, I myself, we immediately went downstairs and asked the assistance of the
members of the raiding team to arrest Walfan Ladjaalam.
xxxxxxxxx
PROSECUTOR NUVAL:
Q: Were you able to go down?
A: Yes.
Q: What happened when you were there?
A: We immediately went out and I asked the assistance of the members of the raiding team and
the investigator of the unit especially SPO1 Cesar Rabuya. I was able to manage to arrest
Walfan Ladjaalam.[42]
What happened thereafter was narrated by Senior Police Officer Ricardo Lacastesantos,[43] as
follows:
Q: What did you notice [o]n the second floor?
A: I went where the firing came from, so, I saw [an] M14 rifle and I shouted from the outside, do not
fire at the second floor because there [are] a lot of children here.
Q: Now, that rifle you said [was an] M14, where did you find this?
A: At the sala set.
Q: This sala set where is this located?
A: Located [on] the second floor of the house.
Q: Is there a sala [o]n the second floor?
A: Yes.
Q: Can you still identify that M14 rifle which you said you recovered from the sale set?
A: Yes.
Q: Why can you identify that?
A: The Serial No. of M14 is 1555225 and I marked it with my initial.
Q: Now, I have here M14 rifle[;] will you please tell us where is the Serial No. of this?
A: 1555225 and I put my initial, RJL.
FISCAL NUVAL:
This is already marked as our Exhibit B-3 with magazine, one magazine and seven round
[ammunition].
Q: After recovering this, what did you do with this firearm?
A: When I recovered it I removed the bullets inside the chamber[.] I removed the magazine and I
turned it over to the investigator.
Q: Where did you turn it over?
A: At the crime scene.
Q: Now, that magazine, can you still identify this?
A: Yes.
Q: Why?
A: I put x x x markings.
xxxxxxxxx
COURT:
So, a[si]de from the magazine attached to the M14 rifle you found six more magazines?
A: Yes, so, all in all six magazines, three empty M16 rifle magazines and three M14.
Q: The M16 magazines [were] empty?
A: Empty.
Q: How about the M14?
A: Found with [ammunition].
xxxxxxxxx
Q: So, where are the three M16 magazines?
A: In the corner.
Q: What did you do with [these] three magazines of M16?
A: I turned [them] over to the investigator.
Q: Can you identify them?
A: Yes, because of my initials[.]
Q: Where are your initials?
A: On the magazines.
Q: RJL?
A: RJL.[44]
These were confirmed by the results of the paraffin tests conducted on appellant and on the
weapons seized during the raid. Both of his hands as well as the weapons, particularly the M-14 which
he had used, were positive for gunpowder nitrate. Police Inspector Mercedes Delfin-Diestro explained
in open court:
Q: Okay. Now, what was the result of your examination, Madam Witness?
A: The result of the examination [was] that both hands of the subject person, ha[d] presence of gun
powder nitrates.
Q: What do you mean Madam Witness, what does that indicate?
A: It indicates there is presence of powder nitrates.
Q: Can we conclude that he fired a gun?
A: I cannot conclude that he fired a gun because there are so many circumstances [why] a person
[would be] positive on his hands for gun powder nitrates.
Q: But, most likely, he fired a gun?
A: Yes.
xxxxxxxxx
PROSECUTOR NUVAL:
Q: What about, Madam Witness this Exhibit B-3, which is the M14 rifle. What did you do with this?
A: SPO3 Abu did the swabbing both in the chamber and the barrel wherein I observed there [were]
black and traces of brown residue on the bolt, chamber and in the barrel.
Q: And, that indicates Madam Witness...?
A: It indicates that the gun was fired.
Q: Recently?
A: Because of the traces of brown residue, it could be possible that the gun was fired before the
incident x x x.
COURT:
Q: There is also black residue?
A: Yes.
Q: What does it indicate?
A: It indicates that the firearm was recently fired.
Q: And, where is this swab used at the time of the swabbing of this Exhibit?
A: This one.
PROSECUTOR NUVAL:
May we ask that this be marked as Exhibit B-3-A.
COURT:
Q: The firing there indicates that the gun was recently fired, during the incident?
A: Yes.
Q: And also before the incident it was fired because of the brown residue?
A: Yes, Your Honor.[45] (emphasis supplied)
Duly proven from the foregoing were the two elements[46] of the crime of illegal possession of
firearms. Undoubtedly, the established fact that appellant had fired an M-14 rifle upon the approaching
police officers clearly showed the existence of the firearm or weapon and his possession
thereof. Sufficing to satisfy the second element was the prosecutions Certification[47]stating that he
had not filed any application for license to possess a firearm, and that he had not been given authority
to carry any outside his residence.[48] Further, it should be pointed out that his possession and use of
an M-14 rifle were obviously unauthorized because this weapon could not be licensed in favor of, or
carried by, a private individual.[49]

Third Issue: Defense of Frame-up

From the convoluted arguments strewn before us by appellant, we gather that the main defense
he raises is frame-up. He claims that the items seized from his house were planted, and that the entire
Zamboanga police force was out to get him at all cost.
This Court has invariably held that the defense of frame-up is inherently weak, since it is easy to
fabricate, but terribly difficult to disprove.[50] Absent any showing of an improper motive on the part of
the police officers,[51] coupled with the presumption of regularity in the performance of their duty, such
defense cannot be given much credence.[52] Indeed, after examining the records of this case, we
conclude that appellant has failed to substantiate his claim. On the contrary, his statements in his
Counter Affidavit are inconsistent with his testimony during the trial.[53] He testified thus:
Q Now, Mr. Witness, do you remember having executed an Affidavit/ a Counter-Affidavit?
A I could not remember.
Q I have here a Counter-Affidavit and it was signed before this representation on the 8th day of
December 1997[;] tell us whose signature is this appearing above the typewritten name
FISCAL NUVAL:
Q . . . . Walpan Ladjaalam, whose signature is this?
(Showing)
A Yes, Sir. This is mine.
Q Now, in paragraph[s] 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 and 8; you stated in this Counter-Affidavit which I quote: that
I was resting and sleeping when I heard the gunshots and I noticed that the shots were directed
towards our house.. and I inspected and x x x we were attacked by armed persons.. and I was
apprehended by the persons who attacked x x x our house; [the] house you are referring to
[in] this paragraph, whose house [are you] referring to, is this [what] you are referring to [as]
your house or the house of your neighbors [from] which you said you heard gunshots?
A Our house.
Q Now, in paragraph 6 of your Counter-Affidavit you stated and I quote: that [o]n that afternoon of
September 24, 1997, I was at home in my house Aplaya, Riohondo, Bo. Campo Muslim, my
companions in my house [were] the two old women and my children, is this correct?
A They were not there.
Q Now, in that statement Mr. Witness, you said that you were at home in [your] house at Aplaya,
Riohondo, Bo. Campo Muslim[;] which is which now, you were in your house or you were in
your neighbors[] house at that time when you heard gunshots?
A I was in the house near my house.
Q So, your statement particularly paragraph 6 of your Counter-Affidavit that you were at home in
[your] house at Aplaya Riohondo Bo. Campo Muslim, is x x x not correct?
A Yes, Sir. This is not correct.[54]

Crime and Punishment

The trial court convicted appellant of three crimes: (1) maintenance of a drug den, (2) direct
assault with attempted homicide, and (3) illegal possession of firearms. We will discuss each of these.

Maintenance of a Drug Den

We agree with the trial court that appellant was guilty of maintenance of a drug den, an offense
for which he was correctly sentenced to reclusion perpetua. His guilt was clearly established by the
testimony of Prosecution Witness Rino Bartolome Locson, who himself had used the extension house
of appellant as a drug den on several occasions, including the time of the raid. The formers testimony
was corroborated by all the raiding police officers who testified before the court. That appellant did not
deny ownership of the house and its extension lent credence to the prosecutions story.

Direct Assault with Multiple Attempted Homicide

The trial court was also correct in convicting appellant of direct assault[55] with multiple counts of
attempted homicide. It found that [t]he act of the accused [of] firing an M14 rifle [at] the policemen[,]
who were about to enter his house to serve a search warrant x x x constituted such complex crime.[56]
We note that direct assault with the use of a weapon carries the penalty of prision correccional in
its medium and maximum periods, while attempted homicide carries the penalty of prision
correccional.[57] Hence, for the present complex crime, the penalty for direct assault, which constitutes
the most serious crime, should be imposed and applied in its maximum period.[58]

Illegal Possession of Firearms

Aside from finding appellant guilty of direct assault with multiple attempted homicide, the trial court
convicted him also of the separate offense of illegal possession of firearms under PD 1866, as
amended by RA 8294, and sentenced him to 6 years of prision correccional to 8 years of prision
mayor.
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) disagrees, on the ground that the trial court should not
have applied the new law. It contends that under the facts of the case, the applicable law should have
been PD 1866, as worded prior to its amendment by RA 8294.
The trial courts ruling and the OSGs submission exemplify the legal communitys difficulty in
grappling with the changes brought about by RA 8294. Hence, before us now are opposing views on
how to interpret Section 1 of the new law, which provides as follows:

SECTION 1. Section 1 of Presidential Decree No. 1866, as amended, is hereby further amended to read as
follows:

Section 1. Unlawful Manufacture, Sale, Acquisition, Disposition or Possession of Firearms or


Ammunition Instruments Used or Intended to be Used in the Manufacture of Firearms or Ammunition. -- The
penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period and a fine of not less than Fifteen thousand pesos
(P15,000) shall be imposed upon any person who shall unlawfully manufacture, deal in, acquire, dispose, or
possess any low powered firearm, such as rimfire handgun, .380 or .32 and other firearm of similar firepower,
part of firearm, ammunition, or machinery, tool or instrument used or intended to be used in the manufacture
of any firearm or ammunition: Provided, That no other crime was committed.

The penalty of prision mayor in its minimum period and a fine of Thirty thousand pesos (P30,000) shall be
imposed if the firearm is classified as high powered firearm which includes those with bores bigger in diameter
than .30 caliber and 9 millimeter such as caliber .40, .41, .44, .45 and also lesser calibered firearms but
considered powerful such as caliber .357 and caliber .22 centerfire magnum and other firearms with firing
capability of full automatic and by burst of two or three: Provided, however, That no other crime was
committed by the person arrested.

If homicide or murder is committed with the use of an unlicensed firearm, such use of an unlicensed firearm
shall be considered as an aggravating circumstance.

If the violation of this Section is in furtherance of or incident to, or in connection with the crime of rebellion or
insurrection, sedition, or attempted coup detat, such violation shall be absorbed as an element of the crime of
rebellion or insurrection, sedition, or attempted coup detat.

The same penalty shall be imposed upon the owner, president, manager, director or other responsible officer of
any public or private firm, company, corporation or entity, who shall willfully or knowingly allow any of the
firearms owned by such firm, company, corporation or entity to be used by any person or persons found guilty
of violating the provisions of the preceding paragraphs or willfully or knowingly allow any of them to use
unlicensed firearms or firearms without any legal authority to be carried outside of their residence in the course
of their employment.

The penalty of arresto mayor shall be imposed upon any person who shall carry any licensed firearm outside
his residence without legal authority therefor.

Citing People v. Jayson,[59] the OSG argues that the foregoing provision does not cover the
specific facts of this case. Since another crime -- direct assault with multiple unlawful homicide -- was
committed, appellant cannot be convicted of simple illegal possession of firearms under the second
paragraph of the aforecited provision. Furthermore, since there was no killing in this case, illegal
possession cannot be deemed as an aggravating circumstance under the third paragraph of the
provision. Based on these premises, the OSG concludes that the applicable law is not RA 8294, but
PD 1866 which, as worded prior the new law, penalizes simple illegal possession of firearms even if
another crime is committed at the same time.[60]
Applying a different interpretation, the trial court posits that appellant should be convicted of illegal
possession of firearms, in addition to direct assault with multiple attempted homicide.It did not explain
its ruling, however. Considering that it could not have been ignorant of the proviso[61] in the second
paragraph, it seemed to have construed no other crime as referring only to homicide and murder, in
both of which illegal possession of firearms is an aggravating circumstance. In other words, if a crime
other than murder or homicide is committed, a person may still be convicted of illegal possession of
firearms. In this case, the other crime committed was direct assault with multiple attempted homicide;
hence, the trial court found appellant guilty of illegal possession of firearms.
We cannot accept either of these interpretations because they ignore the plain language of the
statute. A simple reading thereof shows that if an unlicensed firearm is used in the commission of any
crime, there can be no separate offense of simple illegal possession of firearms. Hence, if the other
crime is murder or homicide, illegal possession of firearms becomes merely an aggravating
circumstance, not a separate offense. Since direct assault with multiple attempted homicide was
committed in this case, appellant can no longer be held liable for illegal possession of firearms.
Moreover, penal laws are construed liberally in favor of the accused.[62] In this case, the plain
meaning of RA 8294s simple language is most favorable to herein appellant. Verily, no other
interpretation is justified, for the language of the new law demonstrates the legislative intent to favor
the accused.[63] Accordingly, appellant cannot be convicted of two separate offenses of illegal
possession of firearms and direct assault with attempted homicide. Moreover, since the crime
committed was direct assault and not homicide or murder, illegal possession of firearms cannot be
deemed an aggravating circumstance.
We reject the OSGs contention that PD 1866, as worded prior to its amendment by RA 8294,
should be applied in this case. When the crime was committed on September 24, 1997, the original
language of PD 1866 had already been expressly superseded by RA 8294 which took effect on July
6, 1997.[64] In other words, no longer in existence was the earlier provision of PD 1866, which justified
a conviction for illegal possession of firearms separate from any other crime. It was replaced by RA
8294 which, among other amendments to PD 1866, contained the specific proviso that no other crime
was committed.
Furthermore, the OSGs reliance on People v. Jayson[65] is misplaced. True, this Court sustained
the conviction of appellant for illegal possession of firearms, although he had also committed
homicide. We explained, however, that the criminal case for homicide [was] not before us for
consideration.
Just as unacceptable is the interpretation of the trial court. We find no justification for limiting
the proviso in the second paragraph to murder and homicide. The law is clear: the accused can be
convicted of simple illegal possession of firearms, provided that no other crime was committed by the
person arrested. If the intention of the law in the second paragraph were to refer only to homicide and
murder, it should have expressly said so, as it did in the third paragraph. Verily, where the law does
not distinguish, neither should we.
The Court is aware that this ruling effectively exonerates appellant of illegal possession of an M-
14 rifle, an offense which normally carries a penalty heavier than that for direct assault.While the
penalty for the first is prision mayor, for the second it is only prision correccional. Indeed, the accused
may evade conviction for illegal possession of firearms by using such weapons in committing an even
lighter offense,[66] like alarm and scandal[67] or slight physical injuries,[68] both of which are punishable
by arresto menor.[69] This consequence, however, necessarily arises from the language of RA 8294,
whose wisdom is not subject to the Courts review. Any perception that the result reached here appears
unwise should be addressed to Congress. Indeed, the Court has no discretion to give statutes a new
meaning detached from the manifest intendment and language of the legislature. Our task is
constitutionally confined only to applying the law and jurisprudence[70] to the proven facts, and we have
done so in this case.
WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision is hereby AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that
appellant is found guilty only of two offenses: (1) direct assault and multiple attempted homicide with
the use of a weapon, for which he is sentenced to 2 years and 4 months to 6 years of prision
correccional; and (2) maintaining a drug den, for which he was correctly sentenced by the trial court
to reclusion perpetua. Costs against appellant.
Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Congress of the Philippines for a possible review, at
its sound discretion, of RA 8294.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 221697

MARY GRACE NATIVIDAD S. POE-LLAMANZARES, Petitioners,


vs.
COMELEC AND ESTRELLA C. ELAMPARO Respondents.

x-----------------------x

G.R. No. 221698-700

MARY GRACE NATIVIDAD S. POE-LLAMANZARES, Petitioners,


vs.
COMELEC, FRANCISCO S. TATAD, ANTONIO P. CONTRERAS AND AMADO D.
VALDEZ Respondents.

DECISION

PEREZ, J.:

Before the Court are two consolidated petitions under Rule 64 in relation to Rule 65 of the Rules of
Court with extremely urgent application for an ex parte issuance of temporary
restraining order/status quo ante order and/or writ of preliminary injunction assailing the following: (1)
1 December 2015 Resolution of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Second Division; (2) 23
December 2015 Resolution of the COMELEC En Banc, in SPA No. 15-001 (DC); (3) 11 December
2015 Resolution of the COMELEC First Division; and ( 4) 23 December 2015 Resolution of the
COMELEC En 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.

The Facts

Mary Grace Natividad S. Poe-Llamanzares (petitioner) was found abandoned as a newborn infant in
the Parish Church of Jaro, Iloilo by a certain Edgardo Militar (Edgardo) on 3 September 1968.
Parental care and custody over petitioner was passed on by Edgardo to his relatives, Emiliano
Militar (Emiliano) and his wife. Three days after, 6 September 1968, Emiliano reported and
registered petitioner as a foundling with the Office of the Civil Registrar of Iloilo City (OCR-Iloilo). In
her Foundling Certificate and Certificate of Live Birth, the petitioner was given the name "Mary Grace
Natividad Contreras Militar." 1

When petitioner was five (5) years old, celebrity spouses Ronald Allan Kelley Poe (a.k.a. Fenando
Poe, Jr.) and Jesusa Sonora Poe (a.k.a. Susan Roces) filed a petition for her adoption with the
Municipal Trial 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 "Mary Grace Natividad Contreras Militar" to
"Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe." Although necessary notations were made by OCR-Iloilo on
petitioner's foundling certificate reflecting the court decreed adoption,2 the petitioner's adoptive
mother discovered only 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 name of her adoptive parents. 3 Without delay, petitioner's mother executed an
affidavit attesting to the lawyer's omission which she submitted to the OCR-Iloilo. On 4 May 2006,
OCR-Iloilo issued a new Certificate of Live Birth in the name of Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe.4

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

On 4 April 1988, petitioner applied for and was issued Philippine Passport No. F9272876 by the
Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). Subsequently, on 5 April 1993 and 19 May 1998, she renewed
her Philippine passport and respectively secured Philippine Passport Nos. L881511 and DD156616.7

Initially, the petitioner enrolled and pursued a degree in Development Studies at the University of the
Philippines8 but she 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 Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Studies.9

On 27 July 1991, petitioner married Teodoro Misael Daniel V. Llamanzares (Llamanzares), a citizen
of both the Philippines and the U.S., at Sanctuario de San Jose Parish in San Juan City. 10 Desirous
of being with her husband who was then based in the U.S., the couple flew back to the U.S. two
days after the wedding ceremony or on 29 July 1991. 11

While in the U.S., the petitioner gave birth to her eldest child Brian Daniel (Brian) on 16 April
1992.12 Her two daughters Hanna MacKenzie (Hanna) and Jesusa Anika (Anika) were both born in
the Philippines on 10 July 1998 and 5 June 2004, respectively. 13

On 18 October 2001, petitioner became a naturalized American citizen. 14 She obtained U.S.
Passport No. 017037793 on 19 December 2001. 15

On 8 April 2004, the petitioner came back to the Philippines together with Hanna to support her
father's candidacy for President in the May 2004 elections. It was during this time that she gave birth
to her youngest daughter Anika. She returned to the U.S. with her two daughters on 8 July 2004. 16

After a few months, specifically on 13 December 2004, petitioner rushed back to the Philippines
upon learning of her father's deteriorating medical condition. 17 Her father slipped into a coma and
eventually expired. The petitioner stayed in the country until 3 February 2005 to take care of her
father's funeral arrangements as well as to assist in the settlement of his estate.18

According to the petitioner, the untimely demise of her father was a severe blow to her entire family.
In her earnest desire to be with her grieving mother, the petitioner and her husband decided to move
and reside permanently in the Philippines sometime in the first quarter of 2005.19 The couple began
preparing for their resettlement including notification of their children's schools that they will be
transferring to Philippine schools for the next semester;20coordination with property movers for the
relocation of their household goods, furniture and cars from the U.S. to the Philippines;21 and inquiry
with Philippine authorities as to the proper procedure to be followed in bringing their pet dog into the
country.22 As early as 2004, the petitioner already quit her job in the U.S.23
Finally, petitioner came home to the Philippines on 24 May 200524 and without delay, secured a Tax
Identification Number from the Bureau of Internal Revenue. Her three (3) children immediately
followed25 while her husband was forced to stay in the U.S. to complete pending projects as well as
to arrange the sale of their family home there.26

The petitioner and her children briefly stayed at her mother's place until she and her husband
purchased a condominium unit with a parking slot at One Wilson Place Condominium in San Juan
City in the second half of 2005.27 The corresponding Condominium 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 20 February 2006.28 Meanwhile, her children of school age began attending Philippine
private schools.

On 14 February 2006, the petitioner made a quick trip to the U.S. to supervise the disposal of some
of the family's remaining household belongings.29 She travelled back to the Philippines on 11 March
2006.30

In late March 2006, petitioner's husband officially informed the U.S. 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
April 2006.32 Petitioner's husband resigned from his job in the U.S. in April 2006, arrived in the
country on 4 May 2006 and started working for a major Philippine company in July 2006.33

In early 2006, petitioner and her husband acquired a 509-square meter lot in Corinthian Hills,
Quezon City where they built their family home34 and to this day, is where the couple and their
children have been residing.35 A Transfer Certificate of Title covering said property was issued in the
couple's name by the Register of Deeds of Quezon City on 1June 2006.

On 7 July 2006, petitioner took her Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines pursuant to
Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9225 or the Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003.36 Under
the same Act, she filed with the Bureau of Immigration (BI) a sworn petition to reacquire Philippine
citizenship together with petitions for derivative citizenship on behalf of her three minor children on
10 July 2006.37 As can be gathered from its 18 July 2006 Order, the BI acted favorably on
petitioner's petitions and declared that she is deemed to have reacquired her Philippine citizenship
while her children are considered as citizens of the Philippines.38 Consequently, the BI issued
Identification Certificates (ICs) in petitioner's name and in the names of her three (3) children. 39

Again, petitioner registered as a voter of Barangay Santa Lucia, San 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 renewed on 18 March 2014 and she was issued Philippine
Passport No. EC0588861 by the DFA.42

On 6 October 2010, President Benigno S. Aquino III appointed petitioner as Chairperson of the
Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB).43 Before assuming her post,
petitioner executed an "Affidavit of Renunciation of Allegiance to the United States of America and
Renunciation of American Citizenship" before a notary public in Pasig City on 20 October 2010,44 in
satisfaction of the legal requisites stated in Section 5 of R.A. No. 9225.45 The following day, 21
October 2010 petitioner submitted the said affidavit to the BI46 and took her oath of office as
Chairperson of the MTRCB.47 From then on, petitioner stopped using her American passport.48

On 12 July 2011, the petitioner executed before the Vice Consul of the U.S. Embassy in Manila an
"Oath/Affirmation of Renunciation of Nationality of the United States."49 On that day, she
accomplished a sworn questionnaire before the U.S. Vice Consul wherein she stated that she had
taken her oath as MTRCB Chairperson on 21 October 2010 with the intent, among others, of
relinquishing her American citizenship.50 In the same questionnaire, the petitioner stated that she
had resided outside of the U.S., specifically in the Philippines, from 3 September 1968 to 29 July
1991 and from May 2005 to present.51

On 9 December 2011, the U.S. Vice Consul issued to petitioner a "Certificate of Loss of Nationality
of the United States" effective 21 October 2010.52

On 2 October 2012, the petitioner filed with the COMELEC her Certificate of Candidacy (COC) for
Senator for the 2013 Elections wherein she answered "6 years and 6 months" to the question
"Period of residence in the Philippines before May 13, 2013."53 Petitioner obtained the highest
number of votes and was proclaimed Senator on 16 May 2013. 54

On 19 December 2013, petitioner obtained Philippine Diplomatic Passport No. DE0004530. 55

On 15 October 2015, petitioner filed her COC for the Presidency for the May 2016 Elections. 56 In
her COC, the petitioner declared that she is a natural-born citizen and that her residence in the
Philippines up to the day before 9 May 2016 would be ten (10) years and eleven (11) months
counted from 24 May 2005.57 The petitioner attached to her COC an "Affidavit Affirming
Renunciation of U.S.A. Citizenship" subscribed and sworn to before a notary public in Quezon City
on 14 October 2015. 58

Petitioner's filing of her COC for President in the upcoming elections triggered the filing of several
COMELEC cases against her which were the subject of these consolidated cases.

Origin of Petition for Certiorari in G.R. No. 221697

A day after petitioner filed her COC for President, Estrella Elamparo (Elamparo) filed a petition to
deny due course or cancel said COC which was docketed as SPA No. 15-001 (DC) and raffled to
the COMELEC Second Division.59She is convinced that the COMELEC has jurisdiction over her
petition.60 Essentially, Elamparo's contention is that petitioner committed material misrepresentation
when she stated in her COC that she is a natural-born Filipino citizen and that she is a resident of
the Philippines for at least ten (10) years and eleven (11) months up to the day before the 9 May
2016 Elections.61

On the issue of citizenship, Elamparo argued that petitioner cannot be considered as a natural-born
Filipino on account of the fact that 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 qualified to apply for reacquisition of Filipino citizenship under R.A. No.
9225 for she is not a natural-born Filipino citizen to begin with.64Even assuming arguendo that
petitioner was a natural-born Filipino, she is deemed to have lost that status when she became a
naturalized American citizen.65 According to Elamparo, natural-born citizenship must be continuous
from birth.66

On the matter of petitioner's residency, Elamparo pointed out that petitioner was bound by the sworn
declaration she made in her 2012 COC for Senator wherein she indicated that she had resided in
the country for only six ( 6) years and six ( 6) months as of May 2013 Elections. Elamparo likewise
insisted that assuming arguendo that petitioner is qualified to regain her natural-born status under
R.A. No. 9225, she still fell short of the ten-year residency requirement of the Constitution as her
residence could only be counted at the earliest from July 2006, when she reacquired Philippine
citizenship under the said Act. Also on the assumption that petitioner is qualified to reacquire lost
Philippine Citizenship, Elamparo is of the belief that she failed to reestablish her domicile in the
Philippines.67
Petitioner seasonably filed her Answer wherein she countered that:

(1) the COMELEC did not have jurisdiction over Elamparo's petition as it was actually a
petition for quo warranto which could only be filed if Grace Poe wins in the Presidential
elections, and that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has primary jurisdiction to revoke the
BI's July 18, 2006 Order;

(2) the petition failed to state a cause of action because it did not contain allegations which, if
hypothetically admitted, would make false the statement in her COC that she is a natural-
born Filipino citizen nor was there any allegation that there was a willful or deliberate intent to
misrepresent on her part;

(3) she did not make any material misrepresentation in the COC regarding her citizenship
and residency qualifications for:

a. the 1934 Constitutional Convention deliberations show that foundlings were


considered citizens;

b. foundlings are presumed under international law to have been born of citizens of
the place where they are found;

c. she reacquired her natural-born Philippine citizenship under the provisions of R.A.
No. 9225;

d. she executed a sworn renunciation of her American citizenship prior to the filing of
her COC for President in the May 9, 2016 Elections and that the same is in full force
and effect and has not been withdrawn or recanted;

e. the burden was on Elamparo in proving that she did not possess natural-born
status;

f. residence is a matter of evidence and that she reestablished her domicile in the
Philippines as early as May 24, 2005;

g. she could reestablish residence even before she reacquired natural-born


citizenship under R.A. No. 9225;

h. statement regarding the period of residence in her 2012 COC for Senator was an
honest mistake, not binding and should give way to evidence on her true date of
reacquisition of domicile;

i. Elamparo's petition is merely an action to usurp the sovereign right of the Filipino
people to decide a purely political question, that is, should she serve as the country's
next leader.68

After the parties submitted their respective Memoranda, the petition was deemed submitted for
resolution.

On 1 December 2015, the COMELEC Second Division promulgated a Resolution finding that
petitioner's COC, filed for the purpose of running for the President of the Republic of the Philippines
in the 9 May 2016 National and Local Elections, contained material representations which are false.
The fallo of the aforesaid Resolution reads:

WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing considerations, the instant Petition to Deny Due Course
to or Cancel Certificate of Candidacy is hereby GRANTED. Accordingly, the Certificate of Candidacy
for President of the Republic of the Philippines in the May 9, 2016 National and Local Elections filed
by respondent Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe Llamanzares is hereby CANCELLED.69

Motion for Reconsideration of the 1 December 2015 Resolution was filed by petitioner which the
COMELEC En Banc resolved in its 23 December 2015 Resolution by denying the same.70

Origin of Petition for Certiorari in G.R. Nos. 221698-700

This case stemmed from three (3) separate petitions filed by Francisco S. Tatad (Tatad), Antonio P.
Contreras (Contreras) and Amado D. Valdez (Valdez) against petitioner before the COMELEC which
were consolidated and raffled to its First Division.

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


Procedure,71 docketed as SPA No. 15-002 (DC), Tatad alleged that petitioner lacks the requisite
residency and citizenship to qualify her for the Presidency.72

Tatad theorized that since the Philippines adheres to the principle of jus sanguinis, persons of
unknown parentage, particularly foundlings, cannot be considered natural-born Filipino citizens since
blood relationship is determinative of natural-born status.73 Tatad invoked the rule of statutory
construction that what is not included is excluded. He averred that the fact that foundlings were not
expressly included in the categories of citizens in the 193 5 Constitution is indicative of the framers'
intent to exclude them.74 Therefore, the burden lies on petitioner to prove that she is a natural-born
citizen.75

Neither can petitioner seek refuge under international conventions or treaties to support her claim
that foundlings have a nationality.76 According to Tatad, international conventions and treaties are
not self-executory and that local legislations are necessary in order to give effect to treaty obligations
assumed by the Philippines.77 He also stressed that there is no standard state practice that
automatically confers natural-born status to foundlings.78

Similar to Elamparo's argument, Tatad claimed that petitioner cannot avail of the option to reacquire
Philippine citizenship under R.A. No. 9225 because it only applies to former natural-born citizens
and petitioner was not as she was a foundling.79

Referring to petitioner's COC for Senator, Tatad concluded that she did not comply with the ten (10)
year residency requirement.80 Tatad opined that petitioner acquired her domicile in Quezon City only
from the time she renounced her American citizenship which was sometime in 2010 or
2011.81 Additionally, Tatad questioned petitioner's lack of intention to abandon her U.S. domicile as
evinced by the fact that her husband stayed thereat and her frequent trips to the U.S.82

In support of his petition to deny due course or cancel the COC of petitioner, docketed as SPA No.
15-139 (DC), Valdez alleged that her repatriation under R.A. No. 9225 did not bestow upon her the
status of a natural-born citizen.83 He advanced the view that former natural-born citizens who are
repatriated under the said Act reacquires only their Philippine citizenship and will not revert to their
original status as natural-born citizens.84
He further argued that petitioner's own admission in her COC for 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
Elections operates against her. Valdez rejected petitioner's claim that she could have validly
reestablished her domicile in the Philippines prior to her reacquisition of Philippine citizenship. In
effect, his position was that petitioner did not meet the ten (10) year residency requirement for
President.

Unlike the previous COMELEC cases filed against petitioner, Contreras' petition,85 docketed as SPA
No. 15-007 (DC), limited the 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 and that she made false entry in her COC when she stated
that she is a legal resident of the Philippines for ten (10) years and eleven (11) months by 9 May
2016.86 Contreras contended that the reckoning period for computing petitioner's residency in the
Philippines should be from 18 July 2006, the date when her petition to reacquire Philippine
citizenship was approved by the BI.87 He asserted that petitioner's physical presence in the country
before 18 July 2006 could not be valid evidence of reacquisition of her Philippine domicile since she
was then living here as an American citizen and as such, she was governed by the Philippine
immigration laws.88

In her defense, petitioner raised the following arguments:

First, Tatad's petition should be dismissed outright for failure to state a cause of action. His petition
did not invoke grounds proper for a disqualification case as enumerated under Sections 12 and 68 of
the Omnibus Election Code.89 Instead, Tatad completely relied on the alleged lack of residency and
natural-born status of petitioner which are not among the recognized grounds for the disqualification
of a candidate to an elective office.90

Second, the petitions filed against her are basically petitions for quo warranto as they focus on
establishing her ineligibility for the Presidency.91 A petition for quo warranto falls within the exclusive
jurisdiction of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) and not the COMELEC.92

Third, the burden to prove that she is not a natural-born Filipino citizen is on the
respondents.93 Otherwise stated, she has a presumption in her favor that she is a natural-born
citizen of this country.

Fourth, customary international law dictates that foundlings are entitled to a nationality and are
presumed to be citizens of the country where they are found.94 Consequently, the petitioner is
considered as a natural-born citizen of the Philippines.95

Fifth, she claimed that as a natural-born citizen, she has every right to be repatriated under R.A. No.
9225 or the right to reacquire her natural-born status.96 Moreover, the official acts of the Philippine
Government enjoy the presumption of regularity, to wit: the issuance 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
decree of adoption of San Juan RTC.97 She believed that all these acts reinforced her position that
she is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines.98

Sixth, she maintained that as early as the first quarter of 2005, she started reestablishing her
domicile of choice in the Philippines as demonstrated by her children's resettlement and schooling in
the country, purchase of a condominium unit in San Juan City and the construction of their family
home in Corinthian Hills.99
Seventh, she insisted that she could legally reestablish her domicile of choice in the Philippines even
before she renounced her American citizenship as long as the three determinants for a change of
domicile are complied with.100She reasoned out that there was no requirement that renunciation of
foreign citizenship is a prerequisite for the acquisition of a new domicile of choice.101

Eighth, she reiterated that the period appearing in the residency portion of her COC for Senator was
a mistake made in good faith.102

In a Resolution103 promulgated on 11 December 2015, the COMELEC First Division ruled that
petitioner is not a natural-born citizen, that she failed to complete the ten (10) year residency
requirement, and that she committed material misrepresentation in her COC when she declared
therein that she has been a resident of the Philippines for a period of ten (10) years and eleven (11)
months as of the day of the elections on 9 May 2016. The COMELEC First Division concluded that
she is not qualified for the elective position of President of the Republic of the Philippines. The
dispositive portion of said Resolution reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Commission RESOLVED, as it hereby RESOLVES,


to GRANT the Petitions and cancel the Certificate of Candidacy of MARY GRACE NATIVIDAD
SONORA POE-LLAMANZARES for the elective position of President of the Republic of the
Philippines in connection with the 9 May 2016 Synchronized Local and National Elections.

Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration seeking a reversal of the COMELEC First Division's
Resolution. On 23 December 2015, the COMELEC En Banc issued a Resolution denying petitioner's
motion for reconsideration.

Alarmed by the adverse rulings of the COMELEC, petitioner instituted the present petitions
for certiorari with urgent prayer for the issuance of an ex parte temporary restraining order/status
quo ante order and/or writ of preliminary injunction. On 28 December 2015, temporary restraining
orders were issued by the Court enjoining the COMELEC and its representatives from implementing
the assailed COMELEC Resolutions until further orders from the Court. The Court also ordered the
consolidation of the two petitions filed by petitioner in its Resolution of 12 January 2016. Thereafter,
oral arguments were held in these cases.

The Court GRANTS the petition of Mary Grace Natividad S. Poe-Llamanzares and to ANNUL and
SET ASIDE the:

1. Resolution dated 1 December 2015 rendered through its Second Division, in SPA No. 15-
001 (DC), entitled Estrella C. Elamparo, petitioner, vs. Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe-
Llamanzares.

2. Resolution dated 11 December 2015, rendered through its First Division, in the
consolidated cases SPA No. 15-002 (DC) entitled Francisco S. Tatad, petitioner, vs. Mary
Grace Natividad Sonora Poe-Llamanzares, respondent; SPA No. 15-007 (DC)
entitled Antonio P. Contreras, petitioner, vs. Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe-Llamanzares,
respondent; and SPA No. 15-139 (DC) entitled Amado D. Valdez, petitioner, v. Mary Grace
Natividad Sonora Poe-Llamanzares, respondent.

3. Resolution dated 23 December 2015 of the Commission En Banc, upholding the 1


December 2015 Resolution of the Second Division.

4. Resolution dated 23 December 2015 of the Commission En Banc, upholding the 11


December 2015 Resolution of the First Division.
The procedure and the conclusions from which the questioned Resolutions emanated are tainted
with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction. The petitioner is a QUALIFIED
CANDIDATE for President in the 9 May 2016 National Elections.

The issue before the COMELEC is whether or not the COC of petitioner should be denied due
course or cancelled "on the exclusive ground" that she made in the certificate a false material
representation. The exclusivity of the ground should hedge in the discretion of the COMELEC and
restrain it from going into the issue of the qualifications of the candidate for the position, if, as in this
case, such issue is yet undecided or undetermined by the proper authority. The COMELEC cannot
itself, in the same cancellation case, decide the qualification or lack thereof of the candidate.

We rely, first of all, on the Constitution of our Republic, particularly its provisions in Article IX, C,
Section 2:

Section 2. The Commission on Elections shall exercise the following powers and functions:

(1) Enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election,
plebiscite, initiative, referendum, and recall.

(2) Exercise exclusive original jurisdiction over all contests relating to the elections, returns,
and qualifications of all elective regional, provincial, and city officials, and appellate
jurisdiction over all contests involving elective municipal officials decided by trial courts of
general jurisdiction, or involving elective barangay officials decided by trial courts of limited
jurisdiction.

Decisions, final orders, or rulings of the Commission on election contests involving elective
municipal and barangay offices shall be final, executory, and not appealable.

(3) Decide, except those involving the right to vote, all questions affecting elections, including
determination of the number and location of polling places, appointment of election officials
and inspectors, and registration of voters.

(4) Deputize, with the concurrence of the President, law enforcement agencies and
instrumentalities of the Government, including the Armed Forces of the Philippines, for the
exclusive purpose of ensuring free, orderly, honest, peaceful, and credible elections.

(5) Register, after sufficient publication, political parties, organizations, or coalitions which, in
addition to other requirements, must present their platform or program of government; and
accredit citizens' arms of the Commission on Elections. Religious denominations and sects
shall not be registered. Those which seek to achieve their goals through violence or unlawful
means, or refuse to uphold and adhere to this Constitution, or which are supported by any
foreign government shall likewise be refused registration.

Financial contributions from foreign governments and their agencies to political parties,
organizations, coalitions, or candidates related to elections constitute interference in national
affairs, and, when accepted, shall be an additional ground for the cancellation of their
registration with the Commission, in addition to other penalties that may be prescribed by
law.

(6) File, upon a verified complaint, or on its own initiative, petitions in court for inclusion or
exclusion of voters; investigate and, where appropriate, prosecute cases of violations of
election laws, including acts or omissions constituting election frauds, offenses, and
malpractices.

(7) Recommend to the Congress effective measures to minimize election spending, including
limitation of places where propaganda materials shall be posted, and to prevent and penalize
all forms of election frauds, offenses, malpractices, and nuisance candidacies.

(8) Recommend to the President the removal of any officer or employee it has deputized, or
the imposition of any other disciplinary action, for violation or disregard of, or disobedience to
its directive, order, or decision.

(9) Submit to the President and the Congress a comprehensive report on the conduct of
each election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum, or recall.

Not any one of the enumerated powers approximate the exactitude of the provisions of Article VI,
Section 17 of the same basic law stating that:

The Senate and the House of Representatives shall each have an Electoral Tribunal which
shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of
their respective Members. Each Electoral Tribunal shall be composed of nine Members,
three of whom shall be Justices of the Supreme Court to be 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 on the basis of proportional representation from the
political parties and the parties or organizations registered under the party-list system
represented therein. The senior Justice in the Electoral Tribunal shall be its Chairman.

or of the last paragraph of Article VII, Section 4 which provides that:

The Supreme Court, sitting en banc, shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to the
election, returns, and qualifications of the President or Vice-President, and may promulgate
its rules for the purpose.

The tribunals which have jurisdiction over the question of the qualifications of the President, the
Vice-President, Senators and the Members of the House of Representatives was made clear by the
Constitution. There is no such provision for candidates for these positions.

Can the COMELEC be such judge?

The opinion of Justice Vicente V. Mendoza in Romualdez-Marcos v. Commission on


Elections,104 which was affirmatively cited in the En Banc decision in Fermin v. COMELEC105 is our
guide. The citation in Fermin reads:

Apparently realizing the lack of an authorized proceeding for declaring the ineligibility of candidates,
the COMELEC amended its rules on February 15, 1993 so as to provide in Rule 25 1, the
following:

Grounds for disqualification. - Any candidate who does not possess all the qualifications of a
candidate as provided for by the Constitution or by existing law or who commits any act
declared by law to be grounds for disqualification may be disqualified from continuing as a
candidate.
The lack of provision for declaring the ineligibility of candidates, however, cannot be supplied by a
mere rule. Such an act is equivalent to the creation of a cause of action which is a substantive
matter which the COMELEC, in the exercise of its rule-making power under Art. IX, A, 6 of the
Constitution, cannot do it. It is noteworthy that the Constitution withholds from the COMELEC even
the power to 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)]

The assimilation in Rule 25 of the COMELEC rules of grounds for ineligibility into grounds for
disqualification is contrary to the evident intention of the law. For not only in their grounds but also in
their consequences are proceedings for "disqualification" different from those for a declaration of
"ineligibility." "Disqualification" proceedings, as already stated, are based on grounds specified in
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
public office. In a word, their purpose is to eliminate a candidate from the race either from the start or
during its progress. "Ineligibility," on the other hand, refers to the lack of the qualifications prescribed
in the Constitution or the statutes for holding public office and the purpose of the proceedings for
declaration of ineligibility is to remove the incumbent from office.

Consequently, that an individual possesses the qualifications for a public office does not imply that
he is not disqualified from becoming a candidate or continuing as a candidate for a public office and
vice versa. We have this sort of dichotomy in our Naturalization 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.

Before we get derailed by the distinction as to grounds and the consequences of the respective
proceedings, the importance of the opinion is in its statement that "the lack of provision for declaring
the ineligibility of candidates, however, cannot be supplied by a mere rule". Justice Mendoza
lectured in Romualdez-Marcos that:

Three reasons may be cited to explain the absence of an authorized proceeding for
determining before election the qualifications of a candidate.

First is the fact that unless a candidate wins and is proclaimed elected, there is no necessity for
determining his eligibility for the office. In contrast, whether an individual should be disqualified as a
candidate for acts constituting election offenses (e.g., vote buying, over spending, commission of
prohibited acts) is a prejudicial question which should be determined lest he wins because of the
very acts for which his disqualification is being sought. That is why it 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 his favor will not be counted; and if for some reason he has been voted for and he has won,
either he will not be proclaimed or his proclamation will be set aside.

Second is the fact that the determination of a candidates' eligibility, e.g., his citizenship or, as in this
case, his domicile, may take a long time to make, extending beyond the beginning of the term of the
office. This is amply demonstrated in the companion case (G.R. No. 120265, Agapito A. Aquino v.
COMELEC) where the determination of Aquino's residence was still pending in the COMELEC even
after the 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 COMELEC and its officers. The law is satisfied if candidates state in their
certificates of candidacy that they are eligible for the position which they seek to fill, leaving the
determination of their qualifications to be made after the election and only in the event they are
elected. Only in cases involving charges of false representations made in certificates of candidacy is
the COMELEC given jurisdiction.
Third is the policy underlying the prohibition against pre-proclamation cases in elections for
President, Vice President, Senators and members of the House of Representatives. (R.A. No. 7166,
15) The purpose is to preserve the prerogatives of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal
and the other Tribunals as "sole judges" under the Constitution of the election,
returns and qualifications of members of Congress of the President and Vice President, as the case
may be.106

To be sure, the authoritativeness of the Romualdez pronouncements as reiterated in Fermin, led to


the amendment through COMELEC Resolution No. 9523, on 25 September 2012 of its Rule 25.
This, the 15 February1993 version of Rule 25, which states that:

Grounds for disqualification. -Any candidate who does not possess all the qualifications of a
candidate as provided for by the Constitution or by existing law or who commits any act declared by
law to be grounds for disqualification may be disqualified from continuing as a candidate.107

was in the 2012 rendition, drastically changed to:

Grounds. - Any candidate who, in action or protest in which he is a party, is declared by final
decision of a competent court, guilty of, or found by the Commission to be suffering from any
disqualification provided by law or the Constitution.

A Petition to Disqualify a Candidate invoking grounds for a Petition to Deny to or Cancel a Certificate
of Candidacy or Petition to Declare a Candidate as a Nuisance Candidate, or a combination thereof,
shall be summarily dismissed.

Clearly, the amendment done in 2012 is an acceptance of the reality of absence of an authorized
proceeding for determining before election the qualifications of candidate. Such that, as presently
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 from any disqualification provided by law or the Constitution."

Insofar as the qualification of a candidate is concerned, Rule 25 and Rule 23 are flipsides of one to
the other. Both do not allow, are not authorizations, are not vestment of jurisdiction, for the
COMELEC to determine the qualification of a candidate. The facts of qualification must beforehand
be established in a prior proceeding before an authority properly vested with jurisdiction. The prior
determination of qualification may be by statute, by executive order or by a judgment of a competent
court or tribunal.

If a candidate cannot be disqualified without a prior finding that he or she is suffering from a
disqualification "provided by law or the Constitution," neither can the certificate of candidacy be
cancelled or denied due course on grounds of false representations regarding his or her
qualifications, without a prior authoritative finding that he or she is not qualified, such prior authority
being the necessary measure by which the falsity of the representation can be found. The only
exception that can be conceded are self-evident facts of unquestioned or unquestionable veracity
and judicial confessions. Such are, anyway, bases equivalent to prior decisions against which the
falsity of representation can be determined.

The need for a predicate finding or final pronouncement in a proceeding under Rule 23 that deals
with, as in this case, alleged false representations regarding the candidate's citizenship and
residence, forced the COMELEC to rule essentially that since foundlings108 are not mentioned in the
enumeration of citizens under the 1935 Constitution,109 they then cannot be citizens. As the
COMELEC stated in oral arguments, when petitioner admitted that she is a foundling, she said it all.
This borders on bigotry. Oddly, in an effort at tolerance, the COMELEC, after saying that it cannot
rule that herein petitioner possesses blood relationship with a Filipino citizen when "it is certain that
such relationship is indemonstrable," proceeded to say that "she now has the burden to present
evidence to prove her natural filiation with a Filipino parent."

The fact is that petitioner's blood relationship with a Filipino citizen is DEMONSTRABLE.

At the outset, it must be noted that presumptions regarding paternity is neither unknown nor
unaccepted in Philippine Law. The Family Code of the Philippines has a whole chapter on Paternity
and Filiation.110 That said, there is more than sufficient evider1ce that petitioner has Filipino parents
and is therefore a natural-born Filipino. Parenthetically, the burden of proof was on private
respondents 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 because such status did not exclude the possibility that her parents were Filipinos,
especially as in this case where there is a high probability, if not certainty, that her parents are
Filipinos.

The factual issue is not who the parents of petitioner are, as their identities are unknown, but
whether such parents are Filipinos. Under Section 4, Rule 128:

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-existence. Evidence on collateral matters shall not be allowed,
except when it tends in any reasonable degree to establish the probability of improbability of the fact
in issue.

The Solicitor General offered official statistics from the Philippine 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 statistical probability that any child born
in the Philippines in that decade is natural-born Filipino was 99.83%. For her part, petitioner
presented census statistics for Iloilo Province for 1960 and 1970, also from the PSA. In 1960, there
were 962,532 Filipinos and 4,734 foreigners in the province; 99.62% of the population were Filipinos.
In 1970, the figures were 1,162,669 Filipinos and 5,304 foreigners, or 99.55%. Also presented were
figures for the child producing ages (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 Filipino males and 886 male
aliens, or 99.58%. In 1970, there were 270,299 Filipino females versus 1, 190 female aliens,
or 99.56%. That same year, there were 245,740 Filipino males as against only 1,165 male aliens
or 99.53%. COMELEC did not dispute these figures. Notably, Commissioner Arthur Lim admitted,
during the oral arguments, that at the time petitioner was found in 1968, the majority of the
population in Iloilo was Filipino.112

Other circumstantial evidence of the nationality of petitioner's parents are the fact that she was
abandoned as an infant in a Roman Catholic Church in Iloilo City.1wphi1 She also has typical
Filipino features: height, flat nasal bridge, straight black hair, almond shaped eyes and an oval face.

There is a disputable presumption that things have happened according to the ordinary course of
nature and the ordinary habits of life.113 All of the foregoing evidence, that a person with typical
Filipino features is abandoned in Catholic Church in a municipality where the population of the
Philippines is overwhelmingly Filipinos such that there would be more than a 99% chance that a
child born in the province would be a Filipino, would indicate more than ample probability if not
statistical certainty, that petitioner's parents are Filipinos. That probability and the evidence on which
it is based are admissible under Rule 128, Section 4 of the Revised Rules on Evidence.
To assume otherwise is to accept the absurd, if not the virtually impossible, as the norm. In the
words of the Solicitor General:

Second. It is contrary to common sense because foreigners do not come to the Philippines so they
can get pregnant and leave their newborn babies behind. We do not face a situation where the
probability is such that every foundling would have a 50% chance of 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 of anyone born in the Philippines would be foreigners? Almost zero. What are the
chances that the parents of anyone born in the Philippines would be Filipinos? 99.9%.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, from 2010 to 2014, on a yearly average, there were
1,766,046 children born in the Philippines to Filipino parents, as opposed to 1,301 children in the
Philippines of foreign parents. Thus, for that sample period, the ratio of non-Filipino children to
natural born Filipino children is 1:1357. This means that the statistical probability that any child born
in the Philippines would be a natural born Filipino is 99.93%.

From 1965 to 1975, the total number of foreigners born in the Philippines is 15,986 while the total
number of Filipinos born in the 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 Filipino is 99.83%.

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 not be affected by whether or not the parents are known. If at all, the likelihood that a
foundling would have a Filipino parent might even be higher than 99.9%. Filipinos abandon their
children out of poverty or perhaps, shame. We do not imagine foreigners abandoning their children
here in the Philippines thinking those infants would have better economic opportunities or believing
that this country is a tropical paradise suitable for raising abandoned children. I certainly doubt
whether a foreign couple has ever considered their child excess baggage that is best left behind.

To deny full Filipino citizenship to all foundlings and render them stateless just because there may
be a theoretical chance that one among the thousands of these foundlings might be the child of not
just one, but two, foreigners is downright discriminatory, irrational, and unjust. It just doesn't make
any sense. Given the statistical certainty - 99.9% - that any child born in the Philippines would be a
natural born citizen, a decision denying foundlings such status is effectively a denial of their
birthright. There is no reason why this Honorable Court should use an improbable hypothetical to
sacrifice the fundamental political rights of an entire class of human beings. Your Honor,
constitutional interpretation and the use of common sense are not separate disciplines.

As a matter of law, foundlings are as a class, natural-born citizens. While the 1935 Constitution's
enumeration is silent as to foundlings, there is no restrictive language which would definitely exclude
foundlings either. Because of silence and ambiguity in the enumeration with respect to foundlings,
there is a need to examine the intent of the framers. In Nitafan v. Commissioner of Internal
Revenue,114 this Court held that:

The ascertainment of that intent is but in keeping with the fundamental principle of
constitutional construction that the intent of the framers of the organic law and of the people
adopting it should be given effect. The primary task in constitutional construction is to
ascertain and thereafter assure the realization of the purpose of the framers and of the
people in the adoption of the Constitution. It may also be safely assumed that the people in
ratifying the Constitution were guided mainly by the explanation offered by the framers.115
As pointed out by petitioner as well as the Solicitor General, the deliberations of the 1934
Constitutional Convention show that the framers intended foundlings to be covered by the
enumeration. The following exchange is recorded:

Sr. Rafols: For an amendment. I propose that after subsection 2, the following is inserted: "The
natural children of a foreign father and a Filipino mother not recognized by the father.

xxxx

President:
[We] would like to request a clarification from the proponent of the amendment. The gentleman
refers to natural children or to any kind of illegitimate children?

Sr. Rafols:
To all kinds of illegitimate children. It also includes natural children of unknown parentage, natural or
illegitimate children of unknown parents.

Sr. Montinola:
For clarification. The gentleman said "of unknown parents." Current codes consider them Filipino,
that is, I refer to the Spanish Code wherein all children of unknown parentage born in Spanish
territory are considered Spaniards, because the presumption is that a child of unknown parentage is
the son of a Spaniard. This may be applied in the Philippines in that a child of unknown parentage
born in the Philippines is deemed to be Filipino, and there is no need ...

Sr. Rafols:
There is a need, because we are relating the conditions that are [required] to be Filipino.

Sr. Montinola:
But that is the interpretation of the law, therefore, there is no [more] need for amendment.

Sr. Rafols:
The amendment should read thus:
"Natural or illegitimate of a foreign father and a Filipino mother recognized by one, or the children of
unknown parentage."

Sr. Briones:
The amendment [should] mean children born in the Philippines of unknown parentage.

Sr. Rafols:
The son of a Filipina to a Foreigner, although this [person] does not recognize the child, is not
unknown.

President:
Does the gentleman accept the amendment or not?

Sr. Rafols:
I do not accept the amendment because the amendment would exclude the children of a Filipina
with a foreigner who does not recognize the child. Their parentage is not unknown and I think those
of overseas Filipino mother and father [whom the latter] does not recognize, should also be
considered as Filipinos.
President:
The question in order is the amendment to the amendment from the Gentleman from Cebu, Mr.
Briones.

Sr. Busion:
Mr. President, don't you think it would be better to leave this matter in the hands of the Legislature?

Sr. Roxas:
Mr. President, my humble opinion is that these cases are few and far in between, that the
constitution need [not] refer to them. By international law the principle that children or people born in
a country of unknown parents are citizens in this nation is recognized, and it is not necessary to
include a provision on the subject exhaustively.116

Though the Rafols amendment was not carried out, it was not because there was any objection to
the notion that persons of "unknown parentage" are not citizens but only because their number was
not enough to merit specific mention. Such was the account,117 cited by petitioner, of delegate and
constitution law author Jose Aruego who said:

During the debates on this provision, Delegate Rafols presented an amendment to include
as Filipino citizens the illegitimate children with a foreign father of a mother who was a citizen
of the Philippines, and also foundlings; but this amendment was defeated primarily because
the Convention believed that the cases, being too few to warrant the inclusion of a provision
in the Constitution to apply to them, should be governed by statutory legislation. Moreover, it
was believed that the rules of international law were already clear to the effect that
illegitimate children followed the citizenship of the mother, and that foundlings followed the
nationality of the place where they were found, thereby making unnecessary the inclusion in
the Constitution of the proposed amendment.

This explanation was likewise the position of the Solicitor General during the 16 February 2016 Oral
Arguments:

We all know that the Rafols proposal was rejected. But note that what was declined was the
proposal for a textual and explicit recognition of foundlings as Filipinos. And so, the way to explain
the constitutional silence is by saying that it was the view of Montinola and Roxas which prevailed
that there is no more need to expressly declare foundlings as Filipinos.

Obviously, it doesn't matter whether Montinola's or Roxas' views were legally correct. Framers of a
constitution can constitutionalize rules based on assumptions that are imperfect or even wrong. They
can even overturn existing rules. This is basic. What matters here is that Montinola and Roxas were
able to convince their colleagues in the convention that there is no more need to expressly declare
foundlings as Filipinos because they are already impliedly so recognized.

In other words, the constitutional silence is fully explained in terms of linguistic efficiency and the
avoidance of redundancy. The policy is clear: it is to recognize foundlings, as a class, as Filipinos
under Art. IV, Section 1 (3) of the 1935 Constitution. This inclusive policy is carried over into the
1973 and 1987 Constitution. It is appropriate to invoke a famous scholar as he was paraphrased by
Chief Justice Fernando: the constitution is not silently silent, it is silently vocal. 118

The Solicitor General makes the further point that the framers "worked to create a just and humane
society," that "they were 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-born Filipinos, the Court must search the records of the
1935, 1973 and 1987 Constitutions "for an express intention to deny foundlings the status of
Filipinos. The burden is on those who wish to use the constitution to discriminate against foundlings
to show that the constitution really intended to take this path to the dark side and inflict this across
the board marginalization."

We find no such intent or language permitting discrimination against foundlings. On the contrary, all
three Constitutions guarantee the basic right to equal protection of the laws. All exhort the State to
render social justice. Of special consideration are several provisions in the present charter: Article II,
Section 11 which provides that the "State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees
full respect for human rights," Article XIII, Section 1 which mandates Congress to "give highest
priority to the enactment of measures that protect and enhance the right of all the people to human
dignity, reduce social, economic, and political inequalities x x x" and Article XV, Section 3 which
requires the State to defend the "right of children to assistance, including proper care and nutrition,
and special protection from all forms of neglect, abuse, cruelty, exploitation, and other conditions
prejudicial to their development." Certainly, these provisions contradict an intent to discriminate
against foundlings on account of their unfortunate status.

Domestic laws on adoption also support the principle that foundlings are Filipinos. These laws do not
provide that adoption confers citizenship upon the adoptee. Rather, the adoptee must be a Filipino in
the first place to be adopted. The most basic of such laws is Article 15 of the Civil Code which
provides that "[l]aws relating to family rights, duties, status, conditions, legal capacity of persons are
binding on citizens of the Philippines even though living abroad." Adoption deals with status, and a
Philippine adoption court will have jurisdiction only if the adoptee is a Filipino. In Ellis and Ellis v.
Republic,119 a child left by an unidentified mother was sought to be adopted by aliens. This Court
said:

In this connection, it should be noted that this is a proceedings in rem, which no court may entertain
unless it has jurisdiction, not only over the subject matter of the case and over the parties, but also
over the res, which is the personal status of Baby Rose as well as that of petitioners herein. Our Civil
Code (Art. 15) adheres to the theory that 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 over the status of the petitioners, who are
foreigners.120 (Underlining supplied)

Recent legislation is more direct. R.A. No. 8043 entitled "An Act Establishing the Rules to Govern
the Inter-Country Adoption of Filipino Children and For Other Purposes" (otherwise known as the
"Inter-Country Adoption Act of 1995"), R.A. No. 8552, entitled "An Act Establishing the Rules and
Policies on the Adoption of Filipino Children and For Other Purposes" (otherwise known as the
Domestic Adoption Act of 1998) and this Court's A.M. No. 02-6-02-SC or the "Rule on Adoption," all
expressly refer to "Filipino children" and include foundlings as among Filipino children who may be
adopted.

It has been argued that the process to determine that the child is a foundling leading to the issuance
of a foundling certificate under these laws and the issuance of said certificate are acts to acquire or
perfect Philippine citizenship which make the foundling a naturalized Filipino at best. This is
erroneous. Under Article IV, Section 2 "Natural-born citizens are those who are citizens of the
Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their Philippine
citizenship." In the first place, "having to perform an act" means that the act must be personally done
by the citizen. In this instance, the determination of foundling status is done not by the child but by
the authorities.121 Secondly, the object of the process is the determination of the whereabouts of the
parents, not the citizenship of the child. Lastly, the process is certainly not analogous to
naturalization proceedings to acquire Philippine citizenship, or the 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.

In this instance, such issue is moot because there is no dispute that 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 and Ronald Allan Kelley
Poe, expressly refers to Emiliano and his wife, Rosario Militar, as her "foundling parents," hence
effectively affirming petitioner's status as a foundling.123

Foundlings are likewise citizens under international law. Under the 1987 Constitution, an
international law can become part of the sphere of domestic law either by transformation or
incorporation. The transformation method requires that an international law be transformed into a
domestic law through a constitutional mechanism such as local legislation.124 On the other hand,
generally accepted principles of international law, by virtue of the incorporation clause of the
Constitution, form part of the laws of the land even if they do not 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 recognized by civilized
nations.125 International customary rules are accepted as binding as a result from the combination of
two elements: the established, widespread, and consistent practice on the part of States; and a
psychological element known as the opinionjuris sive necessitates (opinion as to law or necessity).
Implicit in the latter element is a belief that the practice in question is rendered obligatory by the
existence of a rule of law requiring it.126 "General principles of law recognized by civilized nations"
are principles "established by a process of reasoning" or judicial logic, based on principles which are
"basic to legal systems generally,"127 such as "general principles of equity, i.e., the general principles
of fairness and justice," and the "general principle against discrimination" which is embodied in the
"Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights, the International Convention 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 Occupation."128 These are the same core principles
which underlie the Philippine Constitution itself, as embodied in the due process and equal
protection clauses of the Bill of Rights.129

Universal Declaration of Human Rights ("UDHR") has been interpreted by this Court as part of the
generally accepted principles of international law and binding on the State.130 Article 15 thereof
states:

1. Everyone has the right to a nationality.

2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his
nationality.

The Philippines has also ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Article 7 of
the UNCRC imposes the following obligations on our country:

Article 7

1. The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name,
the right to acquire a nationality and as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or
her parents.
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 child would otherwise be stateless.

In 1986, the country also ratified the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
(ICCPR). Article 24 thereof provide for the right of every child "to acquire a nationality:"

Article 24

1. Every child shall have, without any discrimination as to race, colour, sex, language, religion,
national or social origin, property or birth, the right, to such measures of protection as are required
by his status as a minor, on the part of his family, society and the State.

2. Every child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have a name.

3. Every child has the right to acquire a nationality.

The common thread of the UDHR, UNCRC and ICCPR is to obligate the Philippines to grant
nationality from birth and ensure that no child is stateless. This grant of nationality must be at the
time of birth, and it cannot be accomplished by the application of our present naturalization laws,
Commonwealth Act No. 473, as amended, and R.A. No. 9139, both of which require the applicant to
be at least eighteen (18) years old.

The principles found in two conventions, while yet unratified by the Philippines, are generally
accepted principles of international law. The first is Article 14 of the 1930 Hague Convention on
Certain Questions Relating to the Conflict of Nationality Laws under which a foundling is presumed
to have the "nationality of the country of birth," to wit:

Article 14

A child whose parents are both unknown shall have the nationality of the country of birth. If the
child's parentage is established, its nationality shall be determined by the rules applicable in cases
where the parentage is known.

A foundling is, until the contrary is proved, presumed to have been born on the territory of the State
in which it was found. (Underlining supplied)

The second is the principle that a foundling is presumed born of citizens of the country where he is
found, contained in Article 2 of the 1961 United Nations Convention on the Reduction of
Statelessness:

Article 2

A foundling found in the territory of a Contracting State shall, in the absence of proof to the contrary,
be considered to have been born within the territory of parents possessing the nationality of that
State.

That the Philippines is not a party to the 1930 Hague Convention nor to the 1961 Convention on the
Reduction of Statelessness does not 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 Universal Declaration on Human
Rights, Article 15(1) ofwhich131effectively affirms Article 14 of the 1930 Hague Convention. Article 2
of the 1961 "United Nations Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness" merely "gives effect" to
Article 15(1) of the UDHR.132 In Razon v. Tagitis, 133 this Court noted that the Philippines had not
signed or ratified the "International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced
Disappearance." Yet, we ruled that the proscription against enforced disappearances in the said
convention was nonetheless binding as a "generally accepted principle of international law." Razon
v. Tagitis is likewise notable for declaring the ban as a generally accepted principle of international
law although the convention had been ratified by only sixteen states and had not even come into
force and which needed the ratification of a minimum of twenty states. Additionally, as petitioner
points out, the 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.

Another case where the number of ratifying countries was not determinative is Mijares v.
Ranada, 134 where only four countries had "either ratified or acceded to"135 the 1966 "Convention on
the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil and 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 Court also cited U.S.
laws and jurisprudence on recognition of foreign judgments. In all, only the practices of fourteen
countries were considered and yet, there was pronouncement that recognition of foreign judgments
was widespread practice.

Our approach in Razon and Mijares effectively takes into account the fact that "generally accepted
principles of international law" are based not only on international custom, but also on "general
principles of law recognized by civilized nations," as the phrase is understood in Article 38.1
paragraph (c) of the ICJ Statute. Justice, fairness, equity and the policy against discrimination, which
are fundamental principles underlying the Bill of Rights and which are "basic to legal systems
generally,"136 support the notion that the right against enforced disappearances and the recognition
of foreign judgments, were correctly considered as "generally accepted principles of international
law" under the incorporation clause.

Petitioner's evidence137 shows that at least sixty countries in Asia, North and South America, and
Europe have passed legislation recognizing foundlings as its citizen. Forty-two (42) of those
countries follow the jus sanguinis regime. Of the sixty, only thirty-three (33) are parties to the 1961
Convention on Statelessness; twenty-six (26) are not signatories to the Convention. Also, the Chief
Justice, at the 2 February 2016 Oral Arguments pointed out that in 166 out of 189 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 presume foundlings as having been born of nationals of the country in which the foundling is
found.

Current legislation reveals the adherence of the Philippines to this generally accepted principle of
international law. In particular, R.A. No. 8552, R.A. No. 8042 and this Court's Rules on Adoption,
expressly refer to "Filipino children." In all of them, foundlings are among the Filipino children who
could be adopted. Likewise, it has been pointed that the DFA issues passports to foundlings.
Passports are by law, issued only to citizens. This shows that even the executive department, acting
through the DFA, considers foundlings as Philippine citizens.

Adopting these legal principles from the 1930 Hague Convention and the 1961 Convention on
Statelessness is rational and reasonable and consistent with the jus sanguinis regime in our
Constitution. The presumption of natural-born citizenship of foundlings stems from the presumption
that their parents are nationals of the Philippines. As the empirical data provided by the PSA show,
that presumption is at more than 99% and is a virtual certainty.
In sum, all of the international law conventions and instruments on the matter of nationality of
foundlings were designed to address the plight of a defenseless class which suffers from a
misfortune not of their own making. We cannot be restrictive as to their application if we are a
country which calls itself civilized and a member of the community of nations. The Solicitor General's
warning in his opening statement is relevant:

.... 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
renders them legally invisible. It would be tragically ironic if this Honorable Court ended up using the
international instruments which seek to protect and uplift foundlings a tool to deny them political
status or to accord them second-class citizenship.138

The COMELEC also ruled139 that petitioner's repatriation in July 2006 under the provisions of R.A.
No. 9225 did not result in the reacquisition of natural-born citizenship. The COMELEC reasoned that
since the applicant must perform an act, what is reacquired is not "natural-born" citizenship but only
plain "Philippine citizenship."

The COMELEC's rule arrogantly disregards consistent jurisprudence on the matter of repatriation
statutes in general and of R.A. No. 9225 in particular.

In the seminal case of Bengson Ill v. HRET, 140 repatriation was explained as follows:

Moreover, repatriation results in the recovery of the original nationality. This means that a
naturalized Filipino who lost his citizenship will be restored to his prior status as a naturalized Filipino
citizen. On the other hand, if he was originally a natural-born citizen before he lost his Philippine
citizenship, he will be restored to his former status as a natural-born Filipino.

R.A. No. 9225 is a repatriation statute and has been described as such in several cases. They
include Sobejana-Condon v. COMELEC141 where we described it as an "abbreviated repatriation
process that restores one's Filipino citizenship x x x." Also included is Parreno v. Commission on
Audit,142 which cited Tabasa v. Court of Appeals,143where we said that "[t]he repatriation of the
former Filipino will allow him to recover his natural-born citizenship. Parreno v. Commission on
Audit144 is categorical that "if petitioner reacquires his Filipino citizenship (under R.A. No. 9225), he
will ... recover his natural-born citizenship."

The COMELEC construed the phrase "from birth" in the definition of natural citizens as implying "that
natural-born citizenship must begin at birth and remain uninterrupted and continuous from birth."
R.A. No. 9225 was obviously passed in line with Congress' sole prerogative to determine how
citizenship may be lost or reacquired. Congress saw it fit to decree that natural-born citizenship may
be reacquired even if it had been once lost. It is not for the COMELEC to disagree with the
Congress' determination.

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 person who at the time of his birth, is a citizen of a particular country, is a natural-born
citizen thereof." Neither is "repatriation" an act to "acquire or perfect" one's citizenship. In Bengson III
v. HRET, this Court pointed out that there are only two types of citizens under the 1987 Constitution:
natural-born citizen and naturalized, and that there is no third category for repatriated citizens:

It is apparent from the enumeration of who are citizens under the present Constitution that there are
only two classes of citizens: (1) those who are natural-born and (2) those who are naturalized in
accordance with law. A citizen who is not a naturalized Filipino, ie., did not have to undergo the
process of naturalization to obtain Philippine citizenship, necessarily is a natural-born Filipino.
Noteworthy is the absence in said enumeration of a separate category for persons who, after losing
Philippine citizenship, 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 prescribed by the applicable law for the reacquisition thereof. As
respondent Cruz was not required by law to go through naturalization proceedings in order to
reacquire his citizenship, he is perforce a natural-born Filipino. As such, he possessed all the
necessary qualifications to be elected as member of the House of Representatives.146

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 Morales v. Court of Appeals and Jejomar Erwin S. Binay, Jr.,147 where we decreed reversed the
condonation doctrine, we cautioned that it "should be prospective in application for the reason that
judicial decisions applying or interpreting the laws of the Constitution, until reversed, shall form part
of the legal system of the Philippines." This Court also said that "while the future may ultimately
uncover a doctrine's error, it should be, as a general rule, recognized as good law prior to its
abandonment. Consequently, the people's reliance thereupon should be respected."148

Lastly, it was repeatedly pointed out during the oral arguments that petitioner committed a falsehood
when she put in the spaces for "born to" in her application for repatriation under R.A. No. 9225 the
names of her adoptive parents, and this misled the BI to presume that she was a natural-born
Filipino. It has been contended that the data required were the names of her biological parents which
are precisely unknown.

This position disregards one important fact - petitioner was legally adopted. One of the effects of
adoption is "to sever all legal ties between the biological parents and the adoptee, except when the
biological parent is the spouse of the adoptee."149 Under R.A. No. 8552, petitioner was also entitled
to an amended birth certificate "attesting to the fact that the adoptee is the child of the adopter(s)"
and which certificate "shall not bear any notation that it is an amended issue."150 That law also
requires that "[a]ll records, books, and papers relating to the adoption cases in the files of the court,
the Department [of Social Welfare and Development], or any other agency or institution participating
in the adoption proceedings shall be kept strictly confidential."151 The law therefore allows petitioner
to state that her adoptive parents were her birth parents as that was 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.

Clearly, to avoid a direct ruling on the qualifications of petitioner, which it cannot make in the same
case for cancellation of COC, it resorted to opinionatedness which is, moreover, erroneous. The
whole process undertaken by COMELEC is wrapped in grave abuse of discretion.

On Residence

The tainted process was repeated in disposing of the issue of whether or not petitioner committed
false material representation when she stated in her COC that she has before and until 9 May 2016
been a resident of the Philippines for ten (10) years and eleven (11) months.

Petitioner's claim that she will have been a resident for ten (10) years and eleven (11) months on the
day before the 2016 elections, is true.

The Constitution requires presidential candidates to have ten (10) years' residence in the Philippines
before the day of the elections. Since the forthcoming elections will be held on 9 May 2016,
petitioner must have been a resident of the Philippines prior to 9 May 2016 for ten (10) years. In
answer to the requested information of "Period of Residence in the Philippines up to the day before
May 09, 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.

When petitioner immigrated to the U.S. in 1991, she lost her original domicile, which is the
Philippines. There are three requisites to acquire a new domicile: 1. Residence or bodily presence in
a new locality; 2. an intention to remain there; and 3. an intention to abandon the old domicile.152 To
successfully effect a change of domicile, one must demonstrate an actual removal or an actual
change of domicile; a bona fide intention of abandoning the former place of residence and
establishing a new one and definite acts which correspond with the purpose. In other words, there
must basically be 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 residence at the place chosen for the new domicile must be actual.153

Petitioner presented voluminous evidence showing that she and her family abandoned their U.S.
domicile and relocated to the Philippines for good. These evidence include petitioner's former U.S.
passport showing her arrival on 24 May 2005 and her return to the Philippines every time she
travelled abroad; e-mail correspondences starting in March 2005 to September 2006 with a freight
company to arrange for the shipment of their household items weighing about 28,000 pounds to the
Philippines; e-mail with the Philippine Bureau of Animal Industry inquiring how to ship their dog to
the Philippines; school records of her children showing enrollment in Philippine schools starting June
2005 and for succeeding years; tax identification card for petitioner issued on July 2005; titles for
condominium and parking slot issued in February 2006 and their corresponding tax declarations
issued in April 2006; receipts dated 23 February 2005 from the Salvation Army in the U.S.
acknowledging donation of items from petitioner's family; March 2006 e-mail to the U.S. Postal
Service confirming request for change of address; final statement from the First American Title
Insurance Company showing sale of their U.S. home on 27 April 2006; 12 July 2011 filled-up
questionnaire submitted to the U.S. Embassy where petitioner indicated that she had been a
Philippine resident since May 2005; affidavit from Jesusa Sonora Poe (attesting to the return of
petitioner on 24 May 2005 and that she and her family stayed with affiant until the condominium was
purchased); and Affidavit from petitioner's husband (confirming that the spouses jointly decided to
relocate to the Philippines in 2005 and that he stayed behind in the U.S. only to finish some work
and to sell the family home).

The foregoing evidence were undisputed and the facts were even listed by the COMELEC,
particularly in its Resolution in the Tatad, Contreras and Valdez cases.

However, the COMELEC refused to consider that petitioner's domicile had been timely changed as
of 24 May 2005. At the oral arguments, COMELEC Commissioner Arthur Lim conceded the
presence of the first two requisites, namely, physical presence and animus manendi, but maintained
there was no animus non-revertendi.154 The COMELEC disregarded the import of all the evidence
presented by petitioner on the basis of the position that the earliest date that petitioner could have
started residence in the Philippines was in July 2006 when her application under R.A. No. 9225 was
approved by the BI. In this regard, COMELEC relied on Coquilla v. COMELEC,155 Japzon v.
COMELEC156 and Caballero v. COMELEC. 157 During the oral arguments, the private respondents
also added Reyes v. COMELEC.158 Respondents contend that these cases decree that the stay of
an alien former Filipino cannot be counted until he/she obtains a permanent resident visa or
reacquires Philippine citizenship, a visa-free entry under a balikbayan stamp being insufficient. Since
petitioner was still an American (without any resident visa) until her reacquisition of citizenship under
R.A. No. 9225, her stay from 24 May 2005 to 7 July 2006 cannot be counted.
But as the petitioner pointed out, the facts in these four cases are very different from her situation.
In Coquilla v. COMELEC,159 the only evidence presented was a community tax certificate secured by
the candidate and his declaration that he would be running in the elections. Japzon v.
COMELEC160 did not involve a candidate who wanted to count residence prior to his reacquisition of
Philippine citizenship. With the Court decreeing that residence is distinct from citizenship, the issue
there was whether the candidate's acts after reacquisition sufficed to establish residence.
In Caballero v. COMELEC, 161 the candidate admitted that his place of work was abroad and that he
only visited during his frequent vacations. In Reyes v. COMELEC,162 the candidate was found to be
an American citizen who had not even reacquired Philippine citizenship under R.A. No. 9225 or had
renounced her U.S. citizenship. She was disqualified on the citizenship issue. On residence, the only
proof she offered was a seven-month stint as provincial officer. The COMELEC, quoted with
approval by this Court, said that "such fact alone is not sufficient to prove her one-year residency."

It is obvious that because of the sparse evidence on residence in the four cases cited by the
respondents, the Court had no choice but to hold that residence could be counted only from
acquisition of a permanent resident visa or from reacquisition of Philippine citizenship. In contrast,
the evidence of petitioner is overwhelming and taken together leads to no other conclusion that she
decided to permanently abandon her U.S. residence (selling the house, taking the children from U.S.
schools, getting quotes from the freight company, notifying the U.S. Post Office of the abandonment
of their address in the U.S., donating excess items to the Salvation Army, her husband resigning
from U.S. employment right after selling the U.S. house) and permanently relocate to the Philippines
and actually re-established her residence here on 24 May 2005 (securing T.I.N, enrolling her
children in Philippine schools, buying property here, constructing a residence here, returning to the
Philippines after all trips abroad, her husband getting employed here). Indeed, coupled with her
eventual application to reacquire Philippine citizenship and her family's actual continuous stay in the
Philippines over the years, it is clear that when petitioner returned on 24 May 2005 it was for good.

In this connection, the COMELEC also took it against petitioner that she had entered the Philippines
visa-free as a balikbayan. A closer look at R.A. No. 6768 as amended, otherwise known as the "An
Act Instituting a Balikbayan Program," shows that there is no overriding intent to treat balikbayans as
temporary visitors who must leave after one year. Included in the law is a former Filipino who has
been naturalized abroad and "comes or returns to the Philippines." 163 The law institutes
a balikbayan program "providing the opportunity to avail of the necessary training to enable
the balikbayan to become economically self-reliant members of society upon their return to the
country"164in line with the government's "reintegration program."165 Obviously, balikbayans are not
ordinary transients.

Given the law's express policy to facilitate the return of a balikbayan and help him reintegrate into
society, it would be an unduly harsh conclusion to say in absolute terms that the balikbayan must
leave after one year. That visa-free period is obviously granted him to allow him to re-establish his
life and reintegrate himself into the community before he attends to the necessary formal and legal
requirements of repatriation. And that is exactly what petitioner did - she reestablished life here by
enrolling her children and buying property while awaiting the return of her husband and then
applying for repatriation shortly thereafter.

No case similar to petitioner's, where the former Filipino's evidence of change in domicile is
extensive and overwhelming, has as yet been decided by the Court. Petitioner's evidence of
residence is unprecedented. There is no judicial precedent that comes close to the facts of
residence of petitioner. There is no indication in Coquilla v. COMELEC,166 and the other cases cited
by the respondents that the Court intended to have its rulings there apply to a situation where the
facts are different. Surely, the issue of residence has been decided particularly on the facts-of-the
case basis.
To avoid the logical conclusion pointed out by the evidence of residence of petitioner, the COMELEC
ruled that petitioner's claim of residence of ten (10) years and eleven (11) months by 9 May 2016 in
her 2015 COC was false because she put six ( 6) years and six ( 6) months as "period of residence
before May 13, 2013" in her 2012 COC for Senator. Thus, according to the COMELEC, she started
being a Philippine resident only in November 2006. In doing so, the COMELEC automatically
assumed as true the statement in the 2012 COC and the 2015 COC as false.

As explained by petitioner in her verified pleadings, she 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 she
reckoned residency from April-May 2006 which was the period when the U.S. house was sold and
her husband returned to the Philippines. In that regard, she was advised by her lawyers in 2015 that
residence could be counted from 25 May 2005.

Petitioner's explanation that she misunderstood the query in 2012 (period of residence before 13
May 2013) as inquiring about residence as of the time she submitted the COC, is bolstered by the
change which the COMELEC itself introduced in the 2015 COC which 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 did not acknowledge that the first version was vague.

That petitioner could have reckoned residence from a date earlier 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.
Such evidence, to repeat, would include her passport and the school records of her children.

It was grave abuse of discretion for the COMELEC to treat the 2012 COC as a binding and
conclusive admission against petitioner. It could be given in evidence against her, yes, but it was by
no means conclusive. There is precedent after all where a candidate's mistake as to period of
residence made in a COC was overcome by evidence. In Romualdez-Marcos v. COMELEC,167 the
candidate mistakenly put 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 residence, not a statement in a certificate
of candidacy which ought to be decisive in determining whether or not an individual has satisfied the
constitutions residency qualification requirement." The COMELEC ought to have looked at the
evidence presented and see if petitioner was telling the truth that she was in the Philippines from 24
May 2005. Had the COMELEC done its duty, it would have seen that the 2012 COC and the 2015
COC both correctly stated the pertinent period of residency.

The COMELEC, by its own admission, disregarded the evidence that petitioner actually and
physically returned here on 24 May 2005 not because it was false, but only because COMELEC took
the position that domicile could be established only from petitioner's repatriation under R.A. No. 9225
in July 2006. However, it does not take away the fact that in reality, petitioner had returned from the
U.S. and was here to stay permanently, on 24 May 2005. When she claimed to have been a resident
for ten (10) years and eleven (11) months, she could do so in good faith.

For another, it could not be said that petitioner was attempting to hide anything. As already stated, a
petition for quo warranto had been filed against her with the SET as early as August 2015. The event
from which the COMELEC pegged the commencement of residence, petitioner's repatriation in July
2006 under R.A. No. 9225, was an established fact to repeat, for purposes of her senatorial
candidacy.

Notably, on the statement of residence of six (6) years and six (6) months in the 2012 COC,
petitioner recounted that this was first brought up in the media on 2 June 2015 by Rep. Tobias
Tiangco of the United Nationalist Alliance. Petitioner appears to have answered the issue
immediately, also in the press. Respondents have not disputed petitioner's evidence on this point.
From that time therefore when Rep. Tiangco discussed it in the media, the stated period of
residence in the 2012 COC and the circumstances that surrounded the statement were already
matters of public record and were not hidden.

Petitioner likewise proved that the 2012 COC was also brought up in the SET petition for quo
warranto. Her Verified Answer, which was filed on 1 September 2015, admitted that she made a
mistake in the 2012 COC when she put in six ( 6) years and six ( 6) months as she misunderstood
the question and could have truthfully indicated a longer period. Her answer in the SET case was a
matter of public record. Therefore, when petitioner accomplished her COC for President on 15
October 2015, she could not be said to have been attempting to hide her erroneous statement in her
2012 COC for Senator which was expressly mentioned in her Verified Answer.

The facts now, if not stretched to distortion, do not show or even hint at an intention to hide the 2012
statement and have it covered by the 2015 representation. Petitioner, moreover, has on her side this
Court's pronouncement that:

Concededly, a candidate's disqualification to run for public office does not necessarily constitute
material misrepresentation which is the sole ground for denying due course to, and for the
cancellation of, a COC. Further, as already discussed, the candidate's misrepresentation in his COC
must not only refer to a material fact (eligibility and qualifications for elective office), but should
evince a deliberate intent to mislead, misinform or hide a fact which would otherwise render a
candidate ineligible. It must be made with an intention to deceive the electorate as to one's
qualifications to run for public office.168

In sum, the COMELEC, with the same posture of infallibilism, virtually ignored a good number of
evidenced dates all of which can evince animus manendi to the Philippines and animus non
revertedi to the United States of America. The veracity of the events of coming and staying home
was as much as dismissed as inconsequential, the focus having been fixed at the petitioner's "sworn
declaration in her COC for Senator" which the COMELEC said "amounts to a declaration and
therefore an admission that her residence in the Philippines only commence sometime in November
2006"; such that "based on this declaration, [petitioner] fails to meet the residency requirement for
President." This conclusion, as already shown, ignores the standing jurisprudence that it is the fact
of residence, not the statement of the person that determines residence for purposes of compliance
with the constitutional requirement of residency for election as President. It ignores the easily
researched matter that cases on questions of residency have been decided favorably for the
candidate on the basis of facts of residence far less in number, weight and substance than that
presented by petitioner.169 It ignores, above all else, what we 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. When petitioner made the
declaration in her COC for Senator that she has been a resident for a period of six (6) years and six
(6) months counted up to the 13 May 2013 Elections, she naturally had as reference the residency
requirements for election as Senator which was satisfied by her declared years of residence. It was
uncontested 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 vie for the Presidency in 2016 and that the
general public was never made aware by petitioner, by word or action, that she would run for
President in 2016. Presidential candidacy has a length-of-residence different from that of a
senatorial candidacy. There are facts of residence other than that which was mentioned in the COC
for Senator. Such other facts of residence have never been proven to be false, and these, to repeat
include:

[Petitioner] returned to the Philippines on 24 May 2005. (petitioner's] husband however stayed in the
USA to finish pending projects and arrange the sale of their family home.
Meanwhile [petitioner] and her children lived with her mother in San Juan City. [Petitioner] enrolled
Brian in Beacon School in Taguig City in 2005 and Hanna in Assumption College in Makati City in
2005. Anika was enrolled in Learning Connection in San Juan in 2007, when she was already old
enough to go to school.

In the second half of 2005, [petitioner] and her husband acquired Unit 7F of One Wilson Place
Condominium in San Juan. [Petitioner] and her family lived in Unit 7F until the construction of their
family home in Corinthian Hills was completed.

Sometime in the second half of 2005, [petitioner's] mother discovered that her former lawyer who
handled [petitioner's] 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 name and stating that her parents are
"Ronald Allan K. Poe" and "Jesusa L. Sonora."

In February 2006, [petitioner] travelled briefly to the US in order to supervise the disposal of some of
the family's remaining household belongings.1a\^/phi1 [Petitioner] returned to the Philippines on 11
March 2006.

In late March 2006, [petitioner's] husband informed the United States Postal Service of the family's
abandonment of their address in the US.

The family home in the US was sole on 27 April 2006.

In April 2006, [petitioner's] husband resigned from his work in the US. He returned to the Philippines
on 4 May 2006 and began working for a Philippine company in July 2006.

In early 2006, [petitioner] and her husband acquired a vacant lot in Corinthian Hills, where they
eventually built their family home.170

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
petitioner in her COC for Senator.

All put together, in the matter of the citizenship and residence of petitioner for her candidacy as
President of the Republic, the questioned Resolutions of the COMELEC in Division and En
Banc are, one and all, deadly diseased with grave abuse of discretion from root to fruits.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Resolutions, to wit:

1. dated 1 December 2015 rendered through the COMELEC Second Division, in SPA No. 15-001
(DC), entitled Estrella C. Elamparo, petitioner, vs. Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe-Llamanzares,
respondent, stating that:

[T]he Certificate of Candidacy for President of the Republic of the Philippines in the May 9, 2016
National and Local Elections filed by respondent Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe-Llamanzares is
hereby GRANTED.

2. dated 11 December 2015, rendered through the COMELEC First Division, in the consolidated
cases SPA No. 15-002 (DC) entitled Francisco S. Tatad, petitioner, vs. Mary Grace Natividad
Sonora Poe-Llamanzares, respondent; SPA No. 15-007 (DC) entitled Antonio P. Contreras,
petitioner, vs. Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe-Llamanzares, respondent; and SPA No. 15-139
(DC) entitled Amado D. Valdez, petitioner, v. Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe-
Llamanzares, respondent; stating that:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Commission RESOLVED, as it hereby RESOLVES, to


GRANT the petitions and cancel the Certificate of Candidacy of MARY GRACE NATIVIDAD
SONORA POE-LLAMANZARES for the elective position of President of the Republic of the
Philippines in connection with the 9 May 2016 Synchronized Local and National Elections.

3. dated 23 December 2015 of the COMELEC En Banc, upholding the 1 December 2015 Resolution
of the Second Division stating that:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Commission RESOLVED, as it hereby RESOLVES, to


DENY the Verified Motion for Reconsideration of SENATOR MARY GRACE NATIVIDAD SONORA
POE-LLAMANZARES. The Resolution dated 11 December 2015 of the Commission First Division is
AFFIRMED.

4. dated 23 December 2015 of the COMELEC En Banc, upholding the 11 December 2015
Resolution of the First Division.

are hereby ANNULED and SET ASIDE. Petitioner MARY GRACE NATIVIDAD SONORA POE-
LLAMANZARES is DECLARED QUALIFIED to be a candidate for President in the National and
Local Elections of 9 May 2016.

SO ORDERED.