SC: Poll bets with dual citizenship should give up foreign citizenship
Politicians with dual citizenship who plan to seek public office, take note: the Supreme Court has ruled that aspiring candidates should first renounce their foreign citizenship under oath before running for any elective post.
In a 24-page decision penned by Justice Bienvenido Reyes and promulgated Thursday, the SC junked a petition for certiorari filed by Caba, La Union Vice Mayor Teodora Sobejana-Condon over a local court's decision that made her ineligible to hold public office.
A regional trial court in Bauang, La Union on Oct. 22, 2010 ruled that Condon was not qualified for the post because she did not renounce her Australian citizenship under oath. The Commission on Elections (Comelec) affirmed the ruling the following year, on Sept. 6, 2011.
Condon was born in the Philippines on August 8, 1944 but became a naturalized Australian citizen when she married Kevin Thomas Condon on Dec. 13, 1984.
In December 2005, she re-acquired her Filipino citizenship through the Philippine Embassy in Canberra, Australia in accordance with Republic Act No. 9225 or the Citizenship Retention and Re-Acquisition Act of 2003.
A year later, on Sept. 18, 2006, she filed an unsworn Declaration of Renunciation of Australian Citizenship before the Department of Immigration and Indigenous Affairs in Canberra, Australia, which eventually issued an order dated Sept. 27, 2006 certifying that she has ceased to be an Australian citizen.
She ran but lost in the 2007 mayoral elections in Caba, La Union. In the 2010 elections, she ran again, this time for vice mayor, and won.
Her victory, however, was contested by registered Caba voters Luis M. Bautista and several others, who insisted her renunciation of foreign citizenship was not done under oath. In its October 2010 ruling, the RTC sided with the petitioners and rendered Condon ineligible to hold public office.
Condon appealed the ruling before the Comelec but the poll body rejected it, forcing her to elevate the matter before the Supreme Court. In Thursday's ruling, however, the high court junked Condon's petition and affirmed the Comelec resolution in toto.
The high court said while Condon renounced her citizenship, she did not do so under oath, in violation of Section 5(2) of the dual citizenship law.
“The language of the provision is plain and unambiguous. It expresses a single, definite, and sensible meaning and must thus be read literally. The foreign citizenship must be formally rejected through an affidavit duly sworn before an officer authorized to administer oath,” the court said.
Prior to the enactment of RA 9225, the Supreme Court had ruled that a person with dual citizenship automatically renounces his or her foreign citizenship once he or she files a certificate of candidacy. The high court acknowledged that the 2003 dual citizenship law had superseded that ruling.
“Failure to renounce foreign citizenship in accordance with the exact tenor of Section 5(2) of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9225 [Citizenship Retention and Re-Acquisition Act of 2003] renders a dual citizen ineligible to run for and thus hold any elective public office,” the court said.
“The fact that petitioner won the elections can not cure the defect of her candidacy... [since] garnering the most number of votes does not validate the election of a disqualified candidate because the application of the constitutional and statutory provisions on disqualification is not a matter of popularity,” the court further said.
The high court also said the Comelec did not commit grave abuse of discretion when it resolved Condon's appeal after it was reinstated before the poll body. — LBG, GMA News
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