Mateo Caasi vs. Court of Appeals.
G.R. No. 88831 and 94508 November 8, 1990.
Cases of disqualification under Section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code are filed against the private respondent, Merito Miguel, for the position of municipal mayor of Bolinao, Pangasinan on the ground that he is a green card holder, hence, a permanent resident of the United States of America, not of Bolinao. COMELEC dismissed the case.
Miguel admitted that he holds a green card issued to him by the US Immigration Service, but he denied that he is a permanent resident of the United States. He allegedly obtained the green card for convenience in order that he may freely enter the United States for his periodic medical examination and to visit his children there.
(1) Whether or not a green card is proof that the holder is a permanent resident of the United States.
(2) Did Miguel, by returning to the Philippines in November 1987 and presenting himself as a candidate for mayor of Bolinao in the January 18, 1988 local elections, waive his status as a permanent resident or immigrant of the United States.
Miguel’s application for immigrant status and permanent residence in the U.S. and his possession of a green card attesting to such status are conclusive proof that he is a permanent resident of the U.S. despite his occasional visits to the Philippines. The waiver of such immigrant status should be as indubitable as his application for it. Absent clear evidence that he made an irrevocable waiver of that status or that he surrendered his green card to the appropriate U.S. authorities before he ran for mayor of Bolinao in the local elections on January 18, 1988, our conclusion is that he was disqualified to run for said public office, hence, his election thereto was null and void.
(1) Yes, Miguel, holder of green card proves that he is a permanent resident or immigrant of the US.
Miguel’s immigration to the United States in 1984 constituted an abandonment of his domicile and residence in the Philippines. For he did not go to the United States merely to visit his children or his doctor there; he entered the United States with the intention to live there permanently as evidenced by his application for an immigrant’s (not a visitor’s or tourist’s) visa. Based on that application of his, he was issued by the U.S. Government the requisite green card or authority to reside there permanently.
Immigration is the removing into one place from another; the act of immigrating; the entering into a country with the intention of residing in it.
An immigrant is a person who removes into a country for the purpose of permanent residence.
As a resident alien in the U.S., Miguel owes temporary and local allegiance to the U.S., the country in which he resides (3 CJS 527). This is in return for the protection given to him during the period of his residence therein.
(2) To be “qualified to run for elective office” in the Philippines, the law requires that the candidate who is a green card holder must have “waived his status as a permanent resident or immigrant of a foreign country.” Therefore, his act of filing a certificate of candidacy for elective office in the Philippines, did not of itself constitute a waiver of his status as a permanent resident or immigrant of the United States. The waiver of his green card should be manifested by some act or acts independent of and done prior to filing his candidacy for elective office in this country. Without such prior waiver, he was “disqualified to run for any elective office”
Residence in the municipality where he intends to run for elective office for at least one (1) year at the time of filing his certificate of candidacy, is one of the qualifications that a candidate for elective public office must possess (Sec. 42, Chap. 1, Title 2, Local Government Code). Miguel did not possess that qualification because he was a permanent resident of the United States and he resided in Bolinao for a period of only three (3) months (not one year) after his return to the Philippines in November 1987 and before he ran for mayor of that municipality on January 18, 1988.
The law has reserved that privilege for its citizens who have cast their lot with our country “without mental reservations or purpose of evasion.” The assumption is that those who are resident aliens of a foreign country are incapable of such entire devotion to the interest and welfare of their homeland for with one eye on their public duties here, they must keep another eye on their duties under the laws of the foreign country of their choice in order to preserve their status as permanent residents thereof.
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