Nicolas Lewis VS COMELEC GR No. 162597, August 4, 2006 (CASE DIGEST)

Petitioners, Nicolas Lewis, Gregorio Macabenta, Alejandro Esclamado, Armando Heredia, Reuben Seguritan, Eric Furbeyre, Teresita Cruz, Josefina Disterhoft, Mercedez Opena, Cornelio Natividad, and Evelyn Natividad have retained or acquired their Philippine citizenship under RA 9225 or the Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003.
Petitioners are duals praying that they be allowed to exercise their right to suffrage under RA 9189 or the Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003.
Petitioners were successful applicants of RA 9225. They sought to register and certify themselves to vote for the May 2004 national and local elections. However, the Philippine Embassy in the United States, per a COMELEC letter to the DFA dated September 23, 2003, advised that petitioners do not have the right to vote as they lack the one-year residency requisite under Section 1, Article 5 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution.
Petitioners, filed a petition for certiorari and mandamus, owing to the refusal of COMELEC from allowing them to exercise their right to vote for the May 2004 elections.
A week before the May 2004 elections, COMELEC filed a comment for the denial of the petition.
Petitioners were not able to register and vote for the May 2004 elections.
10 days after the election, OSG filed a manifestation stating that, “All qualified overseas Filipinos, including duals who care to exercise their right to vote may do so.” However, the May 2004 elections have ended rendering the petition moot and academic.
However, for the petition to perpetuate, petitioners’ participation in a political exercise is the subject of the concern making it a transcendental issue. The exercise of duals of their right to suffrage has still remained unsolved.

WON Filipinos whose citizenship that was granted under RA 9225 may be allowed to vote under RA 9189;
WON RA 9189 is constitutional

Petition was granted. Petitioners are able to vote under RA 9189.
Section 1 and 2 of Article 5 are as follows:
SECTION 1. Suffrage may be exercised by all citizens of the Philippines
not otherwise disqualified by law, who are at least eighteen years of age,
and who shall have resided in the Philippines for at least one year and in
the place wherein they propose to vote for at least six months
immediately preceding the election. . . . .
SEC 2. The Congress shall provide . . . a system for absentee voting
by qualified Filipinos abroad.
Residence in Section 1 of Article 5 is synonymous to domicile. If the Filipino citizen is an immigrant, established permanent residence abroad, has not renounced his Filipino citizenship, and has an intent to return may exercise his right to suffrage.
RA 9189 is as follows:
Section 4. Coverage. — All citizens of the Philippines abroad, who are
not otherwise disqualified by law, at least eighteen (18) years of age on
the day of elections, may vote for president, vice-president, senators and
party-list representatives.
Section 5. Disqualifications. — The following shall be disqualified from
voting under this Act:
(a) Those who have lost their Filipino citizenship in accordance with
Philippine laws;
(b) Those who have expressly renounced their Philippine citizenship
and who have pledged allegiance to a foreign country;
(c) Those who have . . . [been] convicted in a final judgment by a
court or tribunal of an offense punishable by imprisonment of not less
than one (1) year, including those who have . . . been found guilty of
Disloyalty as defined under Article 137 of the Revised Penal Code, . . . .;
(d) An immigrant or a permanent resident who is recognized as such
in the host country, unless he/she executes, upon registration, an
affidavit prepared for the purpose by the Commission declaring that
he/she shall resume actual physical permanent residence in the Philippines
not later than three (3) years from approval of his/her registration under
this Act. Such affidavit shall also state that he/she has not applied for
citizenship in another country. Failure to return shall be the cause for the
removal of the name of the immigrant or permanent resident from the
National Registry of Absentee Voters and his/her permanent
disqualification to vote in absentia.
(e) Any citizen of the Philippines abroad previously declared insane or
incompetent by competent authority . . . . (Words in bracket added.)


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