G.R. No. L-14653 – 7 SCRA 21 – Political Law – Constitutional Law – The Judiciary; Judicial Power – Justiciable Controversy – Citizenship
Ricardo Santiago was considered an alien as evidenced by his alien certificate of registration. He averred that this is erroneous. He was born of a Filipino mother and a Chinese father here in the Philippines. He was sent to China when he was 4 years old by his dad. He returned in 1925 and in his Landing Certificate he was already labeled as a Filipino. Hence, he would like to cancel the alien certificate that was issued by the Bureau of Immigrations. In his original petition however in the lower court he was praying for a declaratory relief for him to be declared as a Filipino. He was favored by the court. The fiscal appealed averring that a declaratory relief is not the proper remedy. The lower court amended the decision not stating the “declaratory statement” but rather focusing on the cancellation of the alien certificate. The fiscal appealed before the SC.
ISSUE: Whether or not declaratory relief is a proper remedy to have a judicial declaration of citizenship.
HELD: No. The SC ruled against Santiago. Although amended, the proceeding initiated and originally prayed for is a declaratory relief to have him be declared as a Filipino. Under our laws, there can be no action or proceeding for the judicial declaration of the citizenship of an individual. Courts of justice exist for the settlement of justiciable controversies, which imply a given right, legally demandable and enforceable, an act or omission violative of said right, and a remedy, granted or sanctioned by law, for said breach of right. As an accident only of the adjudication of the rights of the parties to a controversy, the court may pass upon, and make a pronouncement relative to, their status. Otherwise, such a pronouncement is beyond judicial power.
Thus, for instance, no action or proceeding may be instituted for a declaration to the effect that a plaintiff or a petitioner is married, or single, or a legitimate child, although a finding thereon may be made as a necessary premise to justify a given relief available only to one enjoying said status. At times, the law permits the acquisition of a given status, such as naturalization, by judicial decree. But, there is no similar legislation authorizing the institution of a judicial proceeding to declare that a given person is part of our citizenry.