Oct 13, 2021 @ 15:56

SC upholds proclamation of Nueva Ecija solon, junks quo warranto for lack of merit

The Supreme Court has affirmed the ruling of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) dismissing a quo warranto petition questioning the proclamation of Cong. Rosanna Vergara as representative of the 3rd congressional district of Nueva Ecija in the 2016 elections.

In a decision, the SC en banc dismissed for lack of merit the petition filed by Philip Hernandez Piccio who questioned the May 23, 2019 decision and June 27, 2019 resolution of the HRET, saying there was no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the tribunal in issuing the issuances.

The HRET’s May 23, 2019 decision dismissed for lack of merit Piccio’s petition for quo warranto and that of petitioner-intervenor Aurelio Matias Umali against Vergara, and affirmed the latter’s proclamation as duly-elected member of the House of Representatives representing the Third District of Nueva Ecija in the May 2016 National and Local Election. The June 27, 2019 Resolution denied Piccio’s motion for reconsideration.

According to Piccio, Vergara was ineligible to sit as a member of the House of Representatives as she allegedly remained an American citizen.

Vergara was born to Filipino parents on November 5, 1963 in the City of Manila. In 1994, she moved to Cabanatuan City where she married and later established a family home.

In 1998, she moved to the United States of America, obtained a Certificate of Naturalization as an American citizen, and was thereby issued an American passport.

In 2006, Vergara filed with the Philippine Bureau of Immigration a Petition for the Issuance of an Identification Certificate (IC) pursuant to RA 9225, or the Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003, for the retention/reacquisition of Philippine citizenship.

She also took her Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines as part of
the documentary requirements supporting her Petition. On November 30, 2006, she was issued IC No. 06-12955 having re-acquired her Philippine citizenship. She subsequently executed an Affidavit of Renunciation of Foreign Citizenship dated September 4, 2015.

In the petition, Piccio challenged the findings of the HRET on Vergara’s compliance with the requirements of RA 9225, alleging that the HRET gravely abused its discretion when it declared that she (Vergara) had duly re-acquired her Philippine citizenship, despite the fact that both Vergara and the BI only had photocopies of her RA 9225 documents.

“In sum, there is overwhelming competent evidence proving Vergara’s compliance with R.A. 9225 for the re-acquisition of her Philippine citizenship,” the SC held.

In order that a natural-born Filipino citizen, who has lost his Filipino citizenship by reason of naturalization abroad, may qualify to run for elective public office in Philippines, he or she must 1) re-acquire Philippine citizenship by taking an oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines; and 2) make a personal and sworn renunciation of his foreign citizenship, the SC said.

The Court agreed with the HRET that Vergara had complied with both requisites. As correctly found by the HRET, Vergara had duly re-acquired her Philippine citizenship by observing the requirements of the law, foremost of which is the taking of the Oath of Allegiance.

Contrary to Piccio’s contention, the Court clarified that the absence of the original documents is not fatal to Vergara’s case.

” To emphasize, the issue in the present case pertains to the existence and due execution of these documents — and not their contents. Hence, the Best Evidence Rule (under the old Rules on Evidence which were used by the HRET), requiring the production of the original document, does not apply, ” the SC said. #

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