10 May 2007

Salient points of Co vs. HRET

READER Baycas, in a comment, graciously furnished me with a link to the Co vs. HRET decision of the Supreme Court that, after writing this post, I tried to google and yahoo in the internet, to no avail. A hat tip to you.:)

There are two schools of thought in that decision. The minority thinking, which supports the controversial Brawner decision, is found in a dissenting opinion penned by Justice Padilla, the salient point of which says

It cannot be overlooked, in this connection, that the citizenship of private respondent is derived from his father. If his father's Filipino citizenship is void from the beginning, then there is nothing from which private respondent can derive his own claimed Filipino citizenship. For a spring cannot rise higher than its source.
Three other justices -- Narvasa, Paras and Regalado -- joined Padilla in his dissent.

However, the majority decision -- written by Justice Gutierrez and concurred in by five other justices (with Justice Sarmiento adding a separate concurring opinion), in effect yielding a 6-4 vote, with five abstentions -- took a different view. This is what blawger Edwin Lacierda referred to in his post shredding the Brawner decision to bits and pieces. The relevant quote:
The Court cannot go into the collateral procedure of stripping Mr. Ong's father of his citizenship after his death and at this very late date just so we can go after the son.

The petitioners question the citizenship of the father through a collateral approach. This can not be done. In our jurisdiction, an attack on a person's citizenship may only be done through a direct action for its nullity.

To ask the Court to declare the grant of Philippine citizenship to Jose Ong Chuan as null and void would run against the principle of due process. Jose Ong Chuan has already been laid to rest. How can he be given a fair opportunity to defend himself. A dead man cannot speak. To quote the words of the HRET "Ong Chuan's lips have long been muted to perpetuity by his demise and obviously he could not use beyond where his mortal remains now lie to defend himself were this matter to be made a central issue in this case."
Replace "Ong" with "Robredo," "son" with "grandson," and "Jose Ong Chuan" with "Juan Lim Robredo" and you will have an idea where the High Court's thinking lies.