Anti-Money Laundering Cases

RP vs. Hon. Velasco Jr. (GR: 174629)

Money laundering has been generally defined by the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) `as any act or attempted act to conceal or disguise the identity of illegally obtained proceeds so that they appear to have originated from legitimate sources.

Section 4 of the AMLA states that money laundering is a crime whereby the proceeds of an unlawful activity as defined in the law are transacted, thereby making them appear to have originated from legitimate sources.

Respondents posit that a bank inquiry order under Section 11 may be obtained only upon the pre-existence of a money laundering offense case already filed before the courts. The conclusion is based on the phrase upon order of any competent court in cases of violation of this Act, the word cases generally understood as referring to actual cases pending with the courts.

We are unconvinced by this proposition, and agree instead with the then Solicitor General who conceded that the use of the phrase in cases of was unfortunate, yet submitted that it should be interpreted to mean in the event there are violations of the AMLA, and not that there are already cases pending in court concerning such violations. If the contrary position is adopted, then the bank inquiry order would be limited in purpose as a tool in aid of litigation of live cases, and wholly inutile as a means for the government to ascertain whether there is sufficient evidence to sustain an intended prosecution of the account holder for violation of the AMLA.

Section 11 also allows the AMLC to inquire into bank accounts without having to obtain a judicial order in cases where there is probable cause that the deposits or investments are related to kidnapping for ransom, certain violations of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, hijacking and other violations under R.A. No. 6235, destructive arson and murder. Since such special circumstances do not apply in this case, there is no need for us to pass comment on this proviso. Suffice it to say, the proviso contemplates a situation distinct from that which presently confronts us, and for purposes of the succeeding discussion, our reference to Section 11 of the AMLA excludes said proviso.

GSIS Vs. CA (GR 189206)

Republic Act No. 1405 provides for four (4) exceptions when records of deposits may be disclosed. These are under any of the following instances: a) upon written permission of the depositor, (b) in cases of impeachment, (c) upon order of a competent court in the case of bribery or dereliction of duty of public officials or, (d) when the money deposited or invested is the subject matter of the litigation, and e) in cases of violation of the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA), the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) may inquire into a bank account upon order of any competent court.  On the other hand, the lone exception to the non-disclosure of foreign currency deposits, under Republic Act No. 6426, is disclosure upon the written permission of the depositor.

These two laws both support the confidentiality of bank deposits. There is no conflict between them. Republic Act No. 1405 was enacted for the purpose of giving encouragement to the people to deposit their money in banking institutions and to discourage private hoarding so that the same may be properly utilized by banks in authorized loans to assist in the economic development of the country.  It covers all bank deposits in the Philippines and no distinction was made between domestic and foreign deposits. Thus, Republic Act No. 1405 is considered a law of general application. On the other hand, Republic Act No. 6426 was intended to encourage deposits from foreign lenders and investors.  It is a special law designed especially for foreign currency deposits in the Philippines. A general law does not nullify a specific or special law. Generalia specialibus non derogant.  Therefore, it is beyond cavil that Republic Act No. 6426 applies in this case.

 

 

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Philippine Bank Secrecy law Cases

GSIS vs. CA (GR: 189206)

Republic Act No. 1405 provides for four (4) exceptions when records of deposits may be disclosed. These are under any of the following instances:

a) upon written permission of the depositor,

(b) in cases of impeachment,

(c) upon order of a competent court in the case of bribery or dereliction of duty of public officials or,

(d) when the money deposited or invested is the subject matter of the litigation, and

(e) in cases of violation of the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA), the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) may inquire into a bank account upon order of any competent court. On the other hand, the lone exception to the non-disclosure of foreign currency deposits, under Republic Act No. 6426, is disclosure upon the written permission of the depositor.

These two laws both support the confidentiality of bank deposits. There is no conflict between them. Republic Act No. 1405 was enacted for the purpose of giving encouragement to the people to deposit their money in banking institutions and to discourage private hoarding so that the same may be properly utilized by banks in authorized loans to assist in the economic development of the country.  It covers all bank deposits in the Philippines and no distinction was made between domestic and foreign deposits.

Thus, Republic Act No. 1405 is considered a law of general application. On the other hand, Republic Act No. 6426 was intended to encourage deposits from foreign lenders and investors.  It is a special law designed especially for foreign currency deposits in the Philippines. A general law does not nullify a specific or special law. Generalia specialibus non derogant. Therefore, it is beyond cavil that Republic Act No. 6426 applies in this case.

Intengan v. Court of Appeals affirmed the above-cited principle and categorically declared that for foreign currency deposits, such as U.S. dollar deposits, the applicable law is Republic Act No. 6426.

Ricardo Bangayan vs. RCBC (GR: 149193)

Petitioner Bangayan claims that respondent Saria divulged confidential information through the Affidavit he submitted to the BOC.  However, nothing in respondent Sarias Affidavit before the BOC showed that details of petitioner Bangayans bank accounts with respondent bank was disclosed. If at all, respondent Saria merely discussed his functions as an account officer in respondent bank and identified petitioner as the one who had guaranteed the payment or obligations of the importers under the Surety Agreement.

According to petitioner Bangayan, the responses of respondent RCBCs officers in relation to the BOCs actions led to unsavory news reports that disparaged petitioners good character and reputation and exposed him to public ridicule and contempt. However, as the appellate court correctly found, the humiliation and embarrassment that petitioner Bangayan suffered in the business community was not brought about by the alleged violation of the Bank Secrecy Act; it was due to the smuggling charges filed by the Bureau of Customs which found their way in the headlines of newspapers.

Both the trial and appellate courts correctly found that petitioner Bangayan did not satisfactorily introduce evidence to substantiate his claim that defendant bank gave any classified information in violation of the Bank Secrecy Act. Failing to adduce further evidence in the instant Petition with respect to the banks purported disclosure of confidential information as regards his accounts, petitioner cannot be awarded any damages arising from an unsubstantiated and unproved violation of the Bank Secrecy Act.

PSBank vs. Senate Impeachment Court (GR: 200238)

Justice Brion, concurring opinion;

RA No. 6426 guarantees a clear right to the depositors and demands an exacting obligation from banks to maintain the absolute confidentiality of the foreign currency deposits. The failure of a bank to fulfill its obligation under the law subjects the bank and its officials to criminal liability under Section 10 of RA No. 6426, and its authority to accept new foreign currency deposits may be revoked or suspended by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas under Section 87 of the Manual of Regulations on Foreign Exchange Transactions.  More than this, the banks failure in its obligation given media coverage and the non-legal slant it can give gives rise to a real danger that the banks reputation may suffer. In a very bad situation, the effect goes beyond the banks reputation and can adversely affect the economy.

The only exception provided by the law is when there is a written permission by the depositor. Jurisprudence declares that there is only a single exception to the secrecy of foreign currency deposits, that is, disclosure is allowed only upon the written permission of the depositor. This single excepting circumstance, however, does not obtain in the present case; hence, the banks petition.

RA No. 6426, by its plain terms, is clear that all foreign currency deposits are considered to be absolutely confidential. The law expressly refers to deposits not to the identity, nationality, or residence of the depositors. Thus, to claim that the depositors must be considered is misplaced. Also, to so claim is to read into the clear words of the law exemptions that its literal wording does not support. To so claim may even amount to judicial legislation.

Joseph Victor \Ejercito VS. Sandiganbayan (GR: 157294-95)

Raised as issues are:

  1. Whether petitioners Trust Account No. 858 is covered by the term deposit as used in R.A. 1405;
  1. Whether petitioners Trust Account No. 858 and Savings Account No. 0116-17345-9 are excepted from the protection of R.A. 1405; and
  1. Whether the extremely-detailed information contained in the Special Prosecution Panels requests for subpoena was obtained through a prior illegal disclosure of petitioners bank accounts, in violation of the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine.

If the money deposited under an account may be used by banks for authorized loans to third persons, then such account, regardless of whether it creates a creditor-debtor relationship between the depositor and the bank, falls under the category of accounts which the law precisely seeks to protect for the purpose of boosting the economic development of the country.

Trust Account No. 858 is, without doubt, one such account. The Trust Agreement between petitioner and Urban Bank provides that the trust account covers deposit, placement or investment of funds by Urban Bank for and in behalf of petitioner. The money deposited under Trust Account No. 858, was, therefore, intended not merely to remain with the bank but to be invested by it elsewhere. To hold that this type of account is not protected by R.A. 1405 would encourage private hoarding of funds that could otherwise be invested by banks in other ventures, contrary to the policy behind the law.

SECTION 2. All deposits of whatever nature with banks or banking institutions in the Philippines including investments in bonds issued by the Government of the Philippines, its political subdivisions and its instrumentalities, are hereby considered as of an absolutely confidential nature and may not be examined, inquired or looked into by any person, government official, bureau or office, except upon written permission of the depositor, or in cases of impeachment, or upon order of a competent court in cases of bribery or dereliction of duty of public officials, or in cases where the money deposited or invested is the subject matter of the litigation.

Clearly, therefore, R.A. 1405 is broad enough to cover Trust Account No. 858.

Petitioner contends that since plunder is neither bribery nor dereliction of duty, his accounts are not excepted from the protection of R.A. 1405. Philippine National Bank v. Gancayco holds otherwise:

Cases of unexplained wealth are similar to cases of bribery or dereliction of duty and no reason is seen why these two classes of cases cannot be excepted from the rule making bank deposits confidential. The policy as to one cannot be different from the policy as to the other. This policy expresses the notion that a public office is a public trust and any person who enters upon its discharge does so with the full knowledge that his life, so far as relevant to his duty, is open to public scrutiny.

The fruit of the poisonous tree principle, which states that once the primary source (the tree) is shown to have been unlawfully obtained, any secondary or derivative evidence (the fruit) derived from it is also inadmissible, does not apply in this case. In the first place, R.A. 1405 does not provide for the application of this rule. Moreover, there is no basis for applying the same in this case since the primary source for the detailed information regarding petitioners bank accounts the investigation previously conducted by the Ombudsman was lawful.

 

 

 

Citizenship

Tecson vs. COMELEC (GR. 161434)

Section 2, Article VII, of the 1987 Constitution:

“No person may be elected President unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, a registered voter, able to read and write, at least forty years of age on the day of the election, and a resident of the Philippines for at least ten years immediately preceding such election.”

Section 1, Article III, 1935 Constitution. The following are citizens of the Philippines –

(1) Those who are citizens of the Philippine Islands at the time of the adoption of this Constitution

(2) Those born in the Philippines Islands of foreign parents who, before the adoption of this Constitution, had been elected to public office in the Philippine Islands.

(3) Those whose fathers are citizens of the Philippines.

(4) Those whose mothers are citizens of the Philippines and upon reaching the age of majority, elect Philippine citizenship.

(5) Those who are naturalized in accordance with law.

Section 1, Article III, 1973 Constitution – The following are citizens of the Philippines:

(1) Those who are citizens of the Philippines at the time of the adoption of this Constitution.

(2) Those whose fathers or mothers are citizens of the Philippines.

(3) Those who elect Philippine citizenship pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution of nineteen hundred and thirty-five.

(4) Those who are naturalized in accordance with law.

The 1987 Constitution generally adopted the provisions of the 1973 Constitution, except for subsection (3) thereof that aimed to correct the irregular situation generated by the questionable proviso in the 1935 Constitution.

Section I, Article IV, 1987 Constitution now provides:

The following are citizens of the Philippines:

(1) Those who are citizens of the Philippines at the time of the adoption of this Constitution.

(2) Those whose fathers or mothers are citizens of the Philippines.

(3) Those born before January 17, 1973 of Filipino mothers, who elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority; and

(4) Those who are naturalized in accordance with law.

Documentary evidence adduced by petitioner would tend to indicate that the earliest established direct ascendant of FPJ was his paternal grandfather Lorenzo Pou, married to Marta Reyes, the father of Allan F. Poe. While the record of birth of Lorenzo Pou had not been presented in evidence, his death certificate, however, identified him to be a Filipino, a resident of San Carlos, Pangasinan, and 84 years old at the time of his death on 11 September 1954. The certificate of birth of the father of FPJ, Allan F. Poe, showed that he was born on 17 May 1915 to an Espaol father, Lorenzo Pou, and a mestiza Espaol mother, Marta Reyes. Introduced by petitioner was an uncertified copy of a supposed certificate of the alleged marriage of Allan F. Poe and Paulita Gomez on 05 July 1936. The marriage certificate of Allan F. Poe and Bessie Kelley reflected the date of their marriage to be on 16 September 1940. In the same certificate, Allan F. Poe was stated to be twenty-five years old, unmarried, and a Filipino citizen, and Bessie Kelley to be twenty-two years old, unmarried, and an American citizen. The birth certificate of FPJ, would disclose that he was born on 20 August 1939 to Allan F. Poe, a Filipino, twenty-four years old, married to Bessie Kelly, an American citizen, twenty-one years old and married.

Petitioner would have it that even if Allan F. Poe were a Filipino citizen, he could not have transmitted his citizenship to respondent FPJ, the latter being an illegitimate child. According to petitioner, prior to his marriage to Bessie Kelley, Allan F. Poe, on July 5, 1936, contracted marriage with a certain Paulita Gomez, making his subsequent marriage to Bessie Kelley bigamous and respondent FPJ an illegitimate child. The veracity of the supposed certificate of marriage between Allan F. Poe and Paulita Gomez could be most doubtful at best. But the documentary evidence introduced by no less than respondent himself, consisting of a birth certificate of respondent and a marriage certificate of his parents showed that FPJ was born on 20 August 1939 to a Filipino father and an American mother who were married to each other a year later, or on 16 September 1940. Birth to unmarried parents would make FPJ an illegitimate child. Petitioner contended that as an illegitimate child, FPJ so followed the citizenship of his mother, Bessie Kelley, an American citizen, basing his stand on the ruling of this Court in Morano vs. Vivo,citing Chiongbian vs. de Leon and Serra vs. Republic.

What is the relevance of legitimacy or illegitimacy to elective public service? What possible state interest can there be for disqualifying an illegitimate child from becoming a public officer. It was not the fault of the child that his parents had illicit liaison. Why deprive the child of the fullness of political rights for no fault of his own? To disqualify an illegitimate child from holding an important public office is to punish him for the indiscretion of his parents. There is neither justice nor rationality in that. And if there is neither justice nor rationality in the distinction, then the distinction transgresses the equal protection clause and must be reprobated. (PP vs. Cayat)

While the totality of the evidence may not establish conclusively that respondent FPJ is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, the evidence on hand still would preponderate in his favor enough to hold that he cannot be held guilty of having made a material misrepresentation in his certificate of candidacy in violation of Section 78, in relation to Section 74, of the Omnibus Election Code. Petitioner has utterly failed to substantiate his case before the Court, notwithstanding the ample opportunity given to the parties to present their position and evidence, and to prove whether or not there has been material misrepresentation, which, as so ruled in Romualdez-Marcos vs. COMELEC, must not only be material, but also deliberate and willful.

RP vs. Sagun (GR 187567)

Under Article IV, Section 1(4) of the 1935 Constitution, the citizenship of a legitimate child born of a Filipino mother and an alien father followed the citizenship of the father, unless, upon reaching the age of majority, the child elected Philippine citizenship. The right to elect Philippine citizenship was recognized in the 1973 Constitution when it provided that [t]hose who elect Philippine citizenship pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution of nineteen hundred and thirty-five are citizens of the Philippines. Likewise, this recognition by the 1973 Constitution was carried over to the 1987 Constitution which states that [t]hose born before January 17, 1973 of Filipino mothers, who elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority are Philippine citizens. It should be noted, however, that the 1973 and 1987 Constitutional provisions on the election of Philippine citizenship should not be understood as having a curative effect on any irregularity in the acquisition of citizenship for those covered by the 1935 Constitution. If the citizenship of a person was subject to challenge under the old charter, it remains subject to challenge under the new charter even if the judicial challenge had not been commenced before the effectivity of the new Constitution.

Being a legitimate child, respondents citizenship followed that of her father who is Chinese, unless upon reaching the age of majority, she elects Philippine citizenship. It is a settled rule that only legitimate children follow the citizenship of the father and that illegitimate children are under the parental authority of the mother and follow her nationality. An illegitimate child of Filipina need not perform any act to confer upon him all the rights and privileges attached to citizens of the Philippines; he automatically becomes a citizen himself. But in the case of respondent, for her to be considered a Filipino citizen, she must have validly elected Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority.

Respondent cannot assert that the exercise of suffrage and the participation in election exercises constitutes a positive act of election of Philippine citizenship since the law specifically lays down the requirements for acquisition of citizenship by election. The mere exercise of suffrage, continuous and uninterrupted stay in the Philippines, and other similar acts showing exercise of Philippine citizenship cannot take the place of election of Philippine citizenship. Hence, respondent cannot now be allowed to seek the intervention of the court to confer upon her Philippine citizenship when clearly she has failed to validly elect Philippine citizenship. As we held in Ching, the prescribed procedure in electing Philippine citizenship is certainly not a tedious and painstaking process. All that is required of the elector is to execute an affidavit of election of Philippine citizenship and, thereafter, file the same with the nearest civil registry. Having failed to comply with the foregoing requirements, respondents petition before the trial court must be denied.

Sobejana-Condon VS. COMELEC (GR. 198742)

Failure to renounce foreign citizenship in accordance with the exact tenor of Section 5(2) of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9225 renders a dual citizen ineligible to run for and thus hold any elective public office.

The petitioner’s act of running for public office does not suffice to serve as an effective renunciation of her Australian citizenship. While this Court has previously declared that the filing by a person with dual citizenship of a certificate of candidacy is already considered a renunciation of foreign citizenship, such ruling was already adjudged superseded by the enactment of R.A. No. 9225 on August 29, 2003 which provides for the additional condition of a personal and sworn renunciation of foreign citizenship.

The fact that petitioner won the elections can not cure the defect of her candidacy. 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.

In fine, R.A. No. 9225 categorically demands natural-born Filipinos  who re-acquire their citizenship and seek elective office, to execute a personal and sworn renunciation of any and all foreign citizenships before an authorized public officer prior to or simultaneous to the filing of their certificates of candidacy, to qualify as candidates in Philippine elections. The rule applies to all those who have re-acquired their Filipino citizenship, like petitioner, without regard as to whether they are still dual citizens or not. It is a pre-requisite imposed for the exercise of the right to run for public oftice.

The petitioner’s failure to comply in accordance with the exact tenor of the law rendered ineffectual the Declaration of Renunciation of Australian Citizenship she executed on September 18, 2006. As such, she is yet to regain her political right to seek elective office. Unless she executes a sworn renunciation of her Australian citizenship, she is ineligible to run for public office.

De Guzman VS. COMELEC (GR 180048)

Petitioner filed the instant petition for certiorari, alleging that the COMELEC acted with grave abuse of discretion in disqualifying him from running as Vice-Mayor because of his failure to renounce his American citizenship, and in dismissing the motion for reconsideration for being moot.

An issue becomes moot when it ceases to present a justifiable controversy so that a determination thereof would be without practical use and value.  In this case, the pendency of petitioners election protest assailing the results of the election did not render moot the motion for reconsideration which he filed assailing his disqualification. Stated otherwise, the issue of petitioners citizenship did not become moot; the resolution of the issue remained relevant because it could significantly affect the outcome of the election protest. Philippine citizenship is an indispensable requirement for holding an elective office.

Contrary to petitioners claims, the filing of a certificate of candidacy does not ipso facto amount to a renunciation of his foreign citizenship under R.A. No. 9225. Our rulings in the cases of Frivaldo andMercado are not applicable to the instant case because R.A. No. 9225 provides for more requirements.

In Jacot v. Dal and COMELEC, the Court ruled that a candidates oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines and his Certificate of Candidacy do not substantially comply with the requirement of a personal and sworn renunciation of foreign citizenship. Thus:

The law categorically requires persons seeking elective public office, who either retained their Philippine citizenship or those who reacquired it, to make a personal and sworn renunciation of any and all foreign citizenship before a public officer authorized to administer an oath simultaneous with or before the filing of the certificate of candidacy.

Hence, Section 5(2) of Republic Act No. 9225 compels natural-born Filipinos, who have been naturalized as citizens of a foreign country, but who reacquired or retained their Philippine citizenship (1) to take the oath of allegiance under Section 3 of Republic Act No. 9225, and (2) for those seeking elective public offices in the Philippines, to additionally execute a personal and sworn renunciation of any and all foreign citizenship before an authorized public officer prior or simultaneous to the filing of their certificates of candidacy, to qualify as candidates in Philippine elections.

AASJS VS. Hon. Datumanong (GR 160869)

Petitioner contends that Rep. Act No. 9225 cheapens Philippine citizenship. He avers that Sections 2 and 3 of Rep. Act No. 9225, together, allow dual allegiance and not dual citizenship. Petitioner maintains that Section 2 allows all Filipinos, either natural-born or naturalized, who become foreign citizens, to retain their Philippine citizenship without losing their foreign citizenship. Section 3 permits dual allegiance because said law allows natural-born citizens of the Philippines to regain their Philippine citizenship by simply taking an oath of allegiance without forfeiting their foreign allegiance. The Constitution, however, is categorical that dual allegiance is inimical to the national interest.

To begin with, Section 5, Article IV of the Constitution is a declaration of a policy and it is not a self-executing provision. The legislature still has to enact the law on dual allegiance. In Sections 2 and 3 of Rep. Act No. 9225, the framers were not concerned with dual citizenship per se, but with the status of naturalized citizens who maintain their allegiance to their countries of origin even after their naturalization.  Congress was given a mandate to draft a law that would set specific parameters of what really constitutes dual allegiance. Until this is done, it would be premature for the judicial department, including this Court, to rule on issues pertaining to dual allegiance.

Mercado Vs. Manzano (GR 135083)

What is presented before the Commission is a petition for disqualification of Eduardo Barrios Manzano as candidate for the office of Vice-Mayor of Makati City in the May 11, 1998 elections. The petition is based on the ground that the respondent is an American citizen based on the record of the Bureau of Immigration and misrepresented himself as a natural-born Filipino citizen.

Respondent Eduardo Barrios Manzano was born in San Francisco, California, U.S.A. He acquired US citizenship by operation of the United States Constitution and laws under the principle of jus soli.

He was also a natural born Filipino citizen by operation of the 1935 Philippine Constitution, as his father and mother were Filipinos at the time of his birth. At the age of six (6), his parents brought him to the Philippines using an American passport as travel document. His parents also registered him as an alien with the Philippine Bureau of Immigration. He was issued an alien certificate of registration. This, however, did not result in the loss of his Philippine citizenship, as he did not renounce Philippine citizenship and did not take an oath of allegiance to the United States.

It is an undisputed fact that when respondent attained the age of majority, he registered himself as a voter, and voted in the elections of 1992, 1995 and 1998, which effectively renounced his US citizenship under American law. Under Philippine law, he no longer had U.S. citizenship.

The record shows that private respondent was born in San Francisco, California on September 4, 1955, of Filipino parents. Since the Philippines adheres to the principle of jus sanguinis, while the United States follows the doctrine of jus soli, the parties agree that, at birth at least, he was a national both of the Philippines and of the United States. However, the COMELEC en banc held that, by participating in Philippine elections in 1992, 1995, and 1998, private respondent effectively renounced his U.S. citizenship under American law, so that now he is solely a Philippine national.

Petitioner challenges this ruling. He argues that merely taking part in Philippine elections is not sufficient evidence of renunciation and that, in any event, as the alleged renunciation was made when private respondent was already 37 years old, it was ineffective as it should have been made when he reached the age of majority.

In holding that by voting in Philippine elections private respondent renounced his American citizenship, the COMELEC must have in mind 349 of the Immigration and Nationality Act of the United States, which provided that A person who is a national of the United States, whether by birth or naturalization, shall lose his nationality by: . . . (e) Voting in a political election in a foreign state or participating in an election or plebiscite to determine the sovereignty over foreign territory. To be sure this provision was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in Afroyim v. Rusk as beyond the power given to the U.S. Congress to regulate foreign relations. However, by filing a certificate of candidacy when he ran for his present post, private respondent elected Philippine citizenship and in effect renounced his American citizenship.

To recapitulate, by declaring in his certificate of candidacy that he is a Filipino citizen; that he is not a permanent resident or immigrant of another country; that he will defend and support the Constitution of the Philippines and bear true faith and allegiance thereto and that he does so without mental reservation, private respondent has, as far as the laws of this country are concerned, effectively repudiated his American citizenship and anything which he may have said before as a dual citizen.

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Regalian Doctrine

Aranda vs. RP ( GR 172331)

Under the Regalian doctrine which is embodied in Section 2, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution, all lands of the public domain belong to the State, which is the source of any asserted right to ownership of land. All lands not appearing to be clearly within private ownership are presumed to belong to the State. Unless public land is shown to have been reclassified or alienated to a private person by the State, it remains part of the inalienable public domain. To overcome this presumption, incontrovertible evidence must be established that the land subject of the application is alienable or disposable.(GR: 172331)

To prove that the land subject of an application for registration is alienable, an applicant must establish the existence of a positive act of the government such as a presidential proclamation or an executive order; an administrative action; investigation reports of Bureau of Lands investigators; and a legislative act or a statute.  The applicant may also secure a certification from the Government that the lands applied for are alienable and disposable.

GR : 167707

Our present land law traces its roots to the Regalian Doctrine. Upon the Spanish conquest of the Philippines, ownership of all lands, territories and possessions in the Philippines passed to the Spanish Crown. The Regalian doctrine was first introduced in the Philippines through the Laws of the Indies and the Royal Cedulas, which laid the foundation that all lands that were not acquired from the Government, either by purchase or by grant, belong to the public domain.

The Laws of the Indies was followed by the Ley Hipotecaria or the Mortgage Law of 1893. The Spanish Mortgage Law provided for the systematic registration of titles and deeds as well as possessory claims.

The Regalian Doctrine dictates that all lands of the public domain belong to the State, that the State is the source of any asserted right to ownership of land and charged with the conservation of such patrimony.The doctrine has been consistently adopted under the 1935, 1973, and 1987 Constitutions.

All lands not otherwise appearing to be clearly within private ownership are presumed to belong to the State. Thus, all lands that have not been acquired from the government, either by purchase or by grant, belong to the State as part of the inalienable public domain.Necessarily, it is up to the State to determine if lands of the public domain will be disposed of for private ownership. The government, as the agent of the state, is possessed of the plenary power as the persona in law to determine who shall be the favored recipients of public lands, as well as under what terms they may be granted such privilege, not excluding the placing of obstacles in the way of their exercise of what otherwise would be ordinary acts of ownership.

Heirs of Mario Malabanan vs. Republic of the Philippines (GR: 179987)

Critical to the position taken in this Dissent is the reading of the hierarchy of laws that govern public lands to fully understand and appreciate the grounds for dissent.

In the area of public law, foremost in this hierarchy is the Philippine Constitution, whose Article XII (entitled National Economy and Patrimony) establishes and fully embraces the regalian doctrine as a first and overriding principle This doctrine postulates that all lands belong to the State, and that no public land can be acquired by private persons without any grant, express or implied, from the State.

Public lands suitable for agricultural purposes can be disposed of only as follows and not otherwise:

  1.   For homestead settlement;
  2.   By sale;
  3.   By lease;
  4.   By confirmation of imperfect or incomplete title;
  5.   By judicial legalization;
  6.   By administrative legalization (free patent)

Prescription is essentially a civil law term and is not mentioned as one of the modes of acquiring alienable public land under the PLA, (Significantly, the PLA under its Section 48 provides for its system of how possession can ripen into ownership; the PLA does not refer to this as acquisitive prescription but as basis for confirmation of title.) Section 14(2) of the PRD, however, specifies that [t]hose who have acquired ownership of private lands by prescription under the provisions of existing laws as among those who may apply for land registration. Thus, prescription was introduced into the land registration scheme (the PRD), but not into the special law governing lands of the public domain (the PLA).

GR Nos. 152613, 152628,152619-20, 152870-71 (En Banc)

Due to the pressing concerns in the Diwalwal Gold Rush Area brought about by unregulated small to medium-scale mining operations causing ecological, health and peace and order problems, the President, on 25 November 2002, issued Proclamation No. 297, which declared the area as a mineral reservation and as an environmentally critical area.

This executive fiat was aimed at preventing the further dissipation of the natural environment and rationalizing the mining operations in the area in order to attain an orderly balance between socio-economic growth and environmental protection.

The area being a mineral reservation, the Executive Department has full control over it pursuant to Section 5 of Republic Act No. 7942. It can either directly undertake the exploration, development and utilization of the minerals found therein, or it can enter into agreements with qualified entities.

Since the Executive Department now has control over the exploration, development and utilization of the resources in the disputed area, SEMs exploration permit, assuming that it is still valid, has been effectively withdrawn. The exercise of such power through Proclamation No. 297 is in accord with jura regalia, where the State exercises its sovereign power as owner of lands of the public domain and the mineral deposits found within. Thus, Article XII, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution emphasizes:

SEC. 2. All lands of the public domain, water, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna, and other natural resources are owned by the State. With the exception of agricultural lands, all other natural resources shall not be alienated. The exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources shall be under the full control and supervision of the State. The State may directly undertake such activities, or it may enter into co-production, joint venture, or product-sharing agreements with Filipino citizens, or corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of whose capital is owned by such citizens.

Furthermore, said proclamation cannot be denounced as offensive to the fundamental law because the State is sanctioned to do so in the exercise of its police power. The issues on health and peace and order, as well the decadence of the forest resources brought about by unregulated mining in the area, are matters of national interest.

Republic of the Philippines vs Naguiat (GR: 134209)

 

Under Section 6 of the Public Land Act, the prerogative of classifying or reclassifying lands of the public domain, i.e., from forest or mineral to agricultural and vice versa, belongs to the Executive Branch of the government and not the court.Needless to stress, the onus to overturn, by incontrovertible evidence, the presumption that the land subject of an application for registration is alienable or disposable rests with the applicant.

Here, respondent never presented the required certification from the proper government agency or official proclamation reclassifying the land applied for as alienable and disposable. Matters of land classification or reclassification cannot be assumed. It calls for proof. Aside from tax receipts, respondent submitted in evidence the survey map and technical descriptions of the lands, which, needless to state, provided no information respecting the classification of the property. As the Court has held, however, these documents are not sufficient to overcome the presumption that the land sought to be registered forms part of the public domain.

 

National Territory

 

GR: 187167

Justice Velasco, Concurring opinion:

Section 1. The national territory comprises the Philippine archipelago, with all the islands and waters embraced therein, and all other territories belonging to the Philippines by historic right or legal title, including the territorial sea, the air space, the subsoil, the insular shelves, and other submarine areas over which the Philippines has sovereignty or jurisdiction. The waters around, between, and connecting the islands of the archipelago, regardless of their breadth and dimensions, form part of the internal waters of the Philippines.

While the Treaty of Paris is not mentioned in both the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions, its mention, so the nationalistic arguments went, being a repulsive reminder of the indignity of our colonial past,[14] it is at once clear that the Treaty of Paris had been utilized as key reference point in the definition of the national territory.

G.R. Nos. 183591, 183752, 183893 and 183951 – THE PROVINCE OF NORTH COTABATO, duly represented by GOVERNOR JESUS SACDALAN and/or VICE-GOVERNOR EMMANUEL PIOL, for and in his own behalf, Petitioners, versus THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES PEACE PANEL ON ANCESTRAL DOMAIN (GRP), represented by SEC. RODOLFO GARCIA, ATTY. SEDFREY CANDELARIA, MARK RYAN SULLIVAN, and/or GEN. HERMOGENES ESPERON, JR., the latter in his capacity as the present and duly-appointed Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) or the so-called Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Respondents.

Under international law, every sovereign and independent State has the inherent right to protect from dismemberment its territorial integrity, political unity and national sovereignty. The duty to protect the territorial integrity, political unity and national sovereignty of the nation in accordance with the Constitution is not the duty alone of the Executive branch. Where the Executive branch is remiss in exercising this solemn duty in violation of the Constitution, this Court, in the appropriate case as in the present petitions, must step in because every member of this Court has taken a sworn duty to defend and uphold the Constitution.

Any peace agreement that calls for amendments to the Constitution, whatever the amendments may be, including the creation of the BJE must be subject to the constitutional and legal processes of the Philippines. The constitutional power of Congress to propose amendments to the Constitution, and the constitutional power of the people to approve or disapprove such amendments, can never be disregarded. The Executive branch cannot usurp such discretionary sovereign powers of Congress and the people, as the Executive branch did when it committed to amend the Constitution to conform to the MOA-AD. (Justice Carpio)

Justice Reyes

The MOA-AD is problematic when read in conjunction with the IPRA because it does not present any proof or specific reference that all the territories it enumerates accurately represent the ancestral domains of the Bangsamoro Homeland. The MOA-AD assumes that these territories are included in the Bangsamoro Homeland as ancestral domains, without proof or identification of native title or other claim of ownership to all the affected areas.

 Under the MOA-AD, the BJE is vested with jurisdiction, powers and authority over land use, development, utilization, disposition and exploitation of natural resources within the BangsamoroHomeland.[38] In doing so, respondents in effect surrendered to the BJE ownership and gave it full control and supervision over the exploration, development, utilization over the natural resources which belong to the State. This is in clear contravention of the Regalian Doctrine now expressed under Article XII, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution.

Chain of Custody Rule for Drug Related Cases

PP vs. Climaco (GR No. 199403)

Section 1(b) of Dangerous Drugs Board Regulation No. 1, Series of 2002, which implements the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, defines chain of custody as follows:

Chain of Custody means the duly recorded authorized movements and custody of seized drugs or controlled chemicals or plant sources of dangerous drugs or laboratory equipment of each stage, from the time of seizure/confiscation to receipt in the forensic laboratory to safekeeping to presentation in court for destruction. Such record of movements and custody of seized item shall include the identity and signature of the person who held temporary custody of the seized item, the date and time when such transfer of custody were made in the course of safekeeping and use in court as evidence, and the final disposition.

 

PP vs. Cardenas ( GR: 190342)

Under Section 5 of R.A. 9165, the elements that must be proven for the successful prosecution of the illegal sale of shabu are as follows: (1) the identity of the buyer and the seller, the object of the sale, and the consideration; and (2) the delivery of the thing sold and its payment. The State has the burden of proving these elements and is obliged to present the corpus delicti in court to support a finding of guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

In the instant case, the defense does not raise any issue with regard the sale and delivery of the illegal drugs for which the accused was arrested. The point of contention pertains to the noncompliance by the arresting officers with Section 21, Article II of the IRR implementing R.A. 9165 regarding the chain of custody of seized drugs. This is an important matter because, if proven, substantial gaps in the chain of custody of the seized drugs would cast serious doubts on the authenticity of the evidence presented in court and entitle the accused to an acquittal.

To protect the civil liberties of the innocent, the rule ensures that the prosecutions evidence meets the stringent standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt. We have held, however that substantial compliance with the procedural aspect of the chain of custody rule does not necessarily render the seized drug items inadmissible. In People v. Ara, we ruled that R.A. 9165 and its IRR do not require strict compliance with the chain of custody rule:

As recently highlighted in People v. Cortez and People v. Lazaro, Jr., RA 9165 and its subsequent Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) do not require strict compliance as to the chain of custody rule. The arrest of an accused will not be invalidated and the items seized from him rendered inadmissible on the sole ground of non-compliance with Sec. 21, Article II of RA 9165. We have emphasized that what is essential is the preservation of the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items, as the same would be utilized in the determination of the guilt or innocence of the accused.

Briefly stated, non-compliance with the procedural requirements under RA 9165 and its IRR relative to the custody, photographing, and drug-testing of the apprehended persons, is not a serious flaw that can render void the seizures and custody of drugs in a buy-bust operation. (Emphasis supplied.)

REYES VS CA (GR 180177)

Here, the Prosecution failed to demonstrate a faithful compliance by the arresting lawmen of the rule on chain of custody. To start with, the fact that the dangerous drugs were inventoried and photographed at the site of arrest upon seizure in the presence of petitioner, a representative of the media, a representative of the Department of Justice (DOJ), and any elected public official, was not shown.

As such, the arresting lawmen did not at all comply with the further requirement to have the attending representative of the media, representative of the DOJ, and elected public official sign the inventory and be furnished a copy each of the inventory. Instead, the records show that PO2 Payumo placed the markings of RRS-1 on the sachet allegedly received from petitioner and RRS-2 on the two sachets allegedly seized from petitioners hand already at the police station with only petitioner present. Yet, the Prosecution did not also present any witness to establish that an inventory of the seized articles at least signed by petitioner at that point was prepared.

PP vs. Relato (GR: 173794)

A review of the records establishes that the aforestated procedure laid down by Republic Act No. 9165 and its IRR was not followed. Several lapses on the part of the buy-bust team are readily apparent. To start with, no photograph of the seized shabu was taken. Secondly, the buy-bust team did not immediately mark the seized shabu at the scene of the crime and in the presence of Relato and witnesses. Thirdly, although there was testimony about the marking of the seized items being made at the police station, the records do not show that the marking was done in the presence of Relato or his chosen representative. And, fourthly, no representative of the media and the Department of Justice, or any elected official attended the taking of the physical inventory and to sign the inventory.

Under the foregoing rules, the marking immediately after seizure is the starting point in the custodial link, because succeeding handlers of the prohibited drugs or related items will use the markings as reference. It further serves to segregate the marked evidence from the corpus of all other similar and related evidence from the time they are seized from the accused until they are disposed of at the end of the criminal proceedings, obviating switching, “planting,” or contamination of evidence.