SC affirms HRET ruling on Nueva Ecija lawmaker’s citizenship

Evelyn Macairan - The Philippine Star
SC affirms HRET ruling on Nueva Ecija lawmakerâs citizenship
This file photo shows the Supreme Court compound in Padre Faura, Manila.
Philstar.com / Erwin Cagadas

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court (SC) has upheld a decision of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET), which declared Nueva Ecija third district Rep. Rosanna Vergara a Filipino citizen and qualified to be a member of Congress.

In a decision penned by SC Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa with six other magistrates concurring, the high tribunal dismissed the petition filed by Philip Piccio questioning Vergara’s Filipino citizenship.

Associate Justices Estela Perlas-Bernabe and Marvic Leonen abstained from voting.

“There is overwhelming competent evidence proving Vergara’s compliance with Republic Act 9225 (Citizenship Retention and Reacquisition Act) for the reacquisition of her Philippine citizenship,” the high court ruling read.

Vergara was born to Filipino parents in Manila on Nov. 5, 1963. She was naturalized as an American citizen in 1998 and reacquired her Filipino citizenship in 2006.

She executed an affidavit of renunciation of foreign citizenship on Sept. 4, 2015.

The SC agreed with the HRET that Vergara succeeded in reacquiring her Filipino citizenship when she took her oath of allegiance to the Philippines and made a sworn renunciation of her foreign citizenship.

Piccio challenged the HRET findings, claiming Vergara and the Bureau of Immigration (BI) had only photocopies of her documents.

However, the SC said the absence of original documents did not affect Vergara’s case.

“The issue in the present case pertains to the existence and due execution of these documents and not their contents... The best evidence rule requiring the production of the original documents, does not apply,” the SC said.

Vergara had shown proof that the BI lost her original documents.

The BI admitted that Vergara’s original documents were filed and approved by the bureau.

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