Lex Rex Ph

Romualdez-Marcos vs. COMELEC Digest

After the exile of the Marcoses, can Imelda run for public office?

Facts

In 1995, Imelda Marcos filed her Certificate of Candidacy for the position of Representative of the First District of Leyte with the COMELEC. In the COC, she wrote:

“RESIDENCE IN THE CONSTITUENCY WHERE I SEEK TO BE ELECTED IMMEDIATELY PRECEDING THE ELECTION: x x x seven Months.”

21 days after, she amended it from “7 months” to “since childhood.” She said that it was an honest mistake and her residence in Tolosa Leyte is since childhood. The Representative of the First District of Leyte, Cirilo Montejo, filed a case alleging that she did not meet the constitutional requirement for residency.

Issue

Is Imelda qualified? Is she a resident of Leyte for at least one year for purposes of running for May 1995 elections?

Ruling

Yes. The deliberations of the 1987 Constitution on the residence qualification for certain elective positions have placed beyond doubt the principle that when the Constitution speaks of “residence” in election law, it actually means only “domicile”. So settled is the concept (of domicile) in our election law that in these and other election law cases, this Court has stated that the mere absence of an individual from his permanent residence without the intention to abandon it does not result in a loss or change of domicile.

Article 50 of the Civil Code, the domicile of natural persons is their place of habitual residence. Domicile to mean an individual’s “permanent home”, “a place to which, whenever absent for business or for pleasure, one intends to return” (Ong v Republic).

If a person wants to run for public office in a certain locality, what’s important is that his or her address therein, he has an intention to return, despite of his absence in the past.

Therefore, her jotting of the words “seven” in her COC was not an intention to mislead, and just an honest mistake.

Next, the fact that Imelda ran as a candidate for different places, is not equivalent to losing her domicile. The Court cites cases in which, registering in different residences outside one’s domicile does not mean losing the domicile itself. 

Being born in Manila, Imelda was brought back by her father to Leyte.

First, the minor follows the domicile of his parents.

Second, the domicile of origin is not easily lost. To successfully effect a change of domicile, one must demonstrate: 

1. An actual removal or an actual change of domicile;

2. A bona fide intention of abandoning the former place of residence and establishing a new one; and

3. Acts that correspond with the purpose.

The presumption that the wife automatically gains the husband’s domicile by operation of law upon marriage cannot be inferred in the Civil Code.

When they got married, what changed was her residence. She merely gained a new home or residence, and not lose her domicile.

In Art. 109 of the New Civil Code — “The husband and wife are obligated to live together…” it is illogical to conclude that wife should abandon her domicile, where husband can have multiple residences. 

Assuming for the sake of argument that petitioner gained a new “domicile” after her marriage, petitioner’s acts following her return to the country clearly indicate she expressly chose her domicile of origin as expressed in her letters to the Chairman of the PCGG. It’s illogical that she cannot regain her domicile after the death of her husband.

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