The Supreme Court (SC), sitting en banc, has affirmed a ruling of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on the residency requirement for electoral candidates by upholding the disqualification of a winning mayoralty bet in Uyugan, Batanes, in the 2013 elections.
Penned by Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta, the decision found no grave abuse of discretion by the Comelec First Division and the Comelec en banc on May 3, 2013 and the November 6, 2013, respectively.
It voided the certificate of candidacy (COC) of Rogelio Caballero for his failure to satisfy the one-year residency requirement under Republic Act 7160 (Local Government Code).
“The court found that the Comelec committed no grave abuse of discretion in canceling petitioner’s COC. It also found that the petitioner made material misrepresentation when he stated that he had been resident of Uyugan, Batanes, for one year prior to the May 13, 2013 elections,” the ruling stated.
After Caballero renounced his Canadian citizenship to run for mayor, he was not qualified to do so because he did not meet the residency requirement under the law, it said.
The 15-man tribunal cited Section 39 of RA 7160, which requires that the candidate must be a resident of the place where he seeks to be elected at least one year immediately preceding Election Day.
In addition, the SC said while Caballero was born and raised in Uyugan, his naturalization in Canada resulted in an abandonment of domicile in the Philippines.
“Hence, petitioner had effectively abandoned his domicile in the Philippines and transferred his domicile of choice in Canada. His frequent visits to Uyugan, Batanes, during his vacation from work in Canada cannot be considered as waiver of such abandonment,” it added.
Prior to the filing of his COC on October 3, 2012, Caballero took an oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines before the Philippine consul general in Toronto, Canada, on September 13, 2012 and became a dual Filipino and Canadian citizen pursuant to RA 9225.
By October 1, 2012, Caballero has renounced his Canadian citizenship before a notary public in Batanes to pursue his political ambition.
The SC, however, said abandonment of domicile in the Philippines happened in the case of Caballero.