Here are selected July 2010 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on political law:
Agrarian reform; coverage. Lands that are not directly, actually and exclusively used for pasture nor devoted to commercial livestock raising are not excluded from the coverage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. A.Z. Arnaiz Realty, Inc. vs. Office of the President. G.R. No. 170623, July 7, 2010.
Certificate of candidacy; residency requirement. The Omnibus Election Code provides that a certificate of candidacy may be denied due course or cancelled if there is any false representation of a material fact. The critical material facts are those that refer to a candidate’s qualifications for elective office, such as his or her citizenship and residence. The false representation must be a deliberate attempt to mislead, misinform, or hide a fact that would otherwise render a candidate ineligible. Given the purpose of the requirement, it must be made with the intention to deceive the electorate as to the would-be candidate’s qualifications for public office. Thus, the misrepresentation cannot be the result of a mere innocuous mistake, and cannot exist in a situation where the intent to deceive is patently absent, or where no deception on the electorate results. The foregoing are the legal standards by which the COMELEC must act on a petition to deny due course or to cancel a certificate of candidacy. Thus, in considering the residency of a candidate as stated in the certificate of candidacy, the COMELEC must determine whether or not the candidate deliberately attempted to mislead, misinform or hide a fact about his or her residency that would otherwise render him or her ineligible for the position sought. The COMELEC gravely abused its discretion in this case when, in considering the residency issue, it based its decision solely on very personal and subjective assessment standards, such as the nature or design and furnishings of the dwelling place in relation to the stature of the candidate. Abraham Kahlil B. Mitra vs. Commission on Elections, et al. G.R. No. 191938, July 2, 2010.
Citizenship; election and constructive registration. The statutory formalities of electing Philippine citizenship are the following: (1) a statement of election under oath; (2) an oath of allegiance to the Constitution and Government of the Philippines; and (3) registration of the statement of election and of the oath with the nearest civil registry. Here, petitioners complied with the first and second requirements upon reaching the age of majority. However, registration of the documents of election with the civil registry was done belatedly. Under the facts peculiar to the petitioners, the right to elect Philippine citizenship has not been lost and they should be allowed to complete the statutory requirements for such election. Their exercise of suffrage, being elected to public office, continuous and uninterrupted stay in the Philippines, and other similar acts showing exercise of Philippine citizenship do not on their own take the place of election of citizenship. But where, as here, the election of citizenship has in fact been done and documented within the constitutional and statutory timeframe, registration of the documents of election beyond the timeframe should be allowed if in the meanwhile positive acts of citizenship have been done publicly, consistently and continuously. These acts constitute constructive registration. In other words, the actual exercise of Philippine citizenship for over half a century by the petitioners is actual notice to the Philippine public, which is equivalent to formal registration of the election of Philippine citizenship. It is not the registration of the act of election, although a valid requirement under Commonwealth Act No. 625, that will confer Philippine citizenship on the petitioners. It is only a means of confirming the fact that citizenship has been claimed. Having a Filipino mother is permanent. It is the basis of the right of the petitioners to elect Philippine citizenship. Petitioners elected Philippine citizenship in form and substance. The failure to register the election in the civil registry should not defeat that election and negate the permanent fact that petitioners have a Filipino mother. The lacking requirements may still be complied with subject to the imposition of appropriate administrative penalties, if any. The documents petitioners submitted supporting their allegations that they have registered with the civil registry, although belatedly, should be examined for validation purposes by the appropriate agency, in this case the Bureau of Immigration. Other requirements embodied in the administrative orders and other issuances of the Bureau of Immigration and the Department of Justice must be complied with within a reasonable time. Balgamelo Cabiling Ma, et al. vs. Commissioner Alipio F. Fernandez, Jr., et al. G.R. No. 183133, July 26, 2010.