G.R. No. L-6379. September 29, 1954

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95 Phil. 890

[ G.R. No. L-6379. September 29, 1954 ]




This is an appeal taken by the Solicitor General from a decision of
the Court of First Instance of Cebu, granting the application of
Wilfred Uytengsu, for naturalization as citizen of the Philippines.

The main facts are not disputed. Petitioner-appellee was born, of
Chinese parents, in Dumaguete, Negros Oriental on October 6, 1927. He
began his primary education at the Saint Theresa’s College in said
municipality. Subsequently, he attended the Little Flower of Jesus
Academy, then the San Carlos College and, still later the Siliman
University—all in the same locality—where he completed the secondary
course. Early in 1946, he studied, for one semester, in the Mapua
Institute of Technology, in Manila. Soon after, he went to the United
States, where, from 1947 to 1950, he was enrolled in the Leland
Stanford Junior University, in California, and was graduated, in 1950,
with the degree of Bachelor of Science. In April of the same year he
returned to the Philippines for four (4) months vacation. Then, to be
exact, on July 15, 1950, his present application for naturalization was
filed. Forthwith, he returned to the United States and took a
postgraduate course, in chemical engineering, in another educational
institution, in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He finished this course in July
1951; but did not return to the Philippines until October 13, 1951.
Hence, the hearing of the case, originally scheduled to take place on
July 12, 1951, had to be postponed on motion of counsel for the

The only question for the determination in this appeal is whether or
not the application for naturalization may be granted, notwithstanding
the fact that petitioner left the Philippines immediately after the
filing of his petition and did not return until several months after
the first date set for the hearing thereof. The Court of First Instance
of Cebu decided this question in the affirmative and accordingly
rendered judgment for the petitioner. The Solicitor General, who
maintains the negative, has appealed from said judgment.

Section 7 of Commonwealth Act No. 473 reads as follows:

“Any person desiring to acquire Philippine
citizenship shall file with the competent court, a petition in
triplicate, accompanied by two photographs of the petitioner, setting
forth his name and surname, his present and former place of residence;
his occupation; the place and date of his birth; whether single or
married and if the father of children, the name, age, birthplace and
residence of the wife and of each of the children; the approximate date
of his arrival in the Philippines, the name of the port of debarkation,
and if he remembers it, the name of the ship on which he came; a
declaration that he has the qualifications required by this Act,
specifying the same, and that he is not disqualified for naturalization
under the provisions of this Act; that he has complied with the
requirements of section five of this Act, and that he will reside
continuously in the Philippines from the date of the filing of the
petition up to the time of his admission to Philippine citizenship
* * *” (Italics supplied.)

In conformity with this provision, petitioner stated in paragraph 13 of his application:

“* * * I will reside continuously in the Philippines
from the date of the filing of my petition up to the time of my
admission to Philippine citizenship.” (Record on Appeal, page 3.)

Petitioner contends, and the lower court held, that the word
“residence”, as used in the aforesaid provision of the Naturalization
Law, is synonymous with domicile, which, once acquired, is not lost by
physical absence, until another domicile is obtained, and that, from
1946 to 1951, he continued to be domiciled in, and hence a resident of
the Philippines, his purpose in staying in the United States, at that
time, being, merely to study therein.

It should be noted that to become a citizen of the Philippines by
naturalization, one must reside therein for not less than 10 years,
except in some special cases, in which 5 years of residence is
sufficient (sections 2 and 3, Commonwealth Act No. 473). Pursuant to
the provision above quoted, he must, also, file an application stating
therein, among other things, that he “has the qualifications required”
by law. Inasmuch as these qualifications include the residence
requirement already referred to, it follows that the applicant must
prove that he is a resident of the Philippines at the time, not only of
the filing of the application, but, also, of its hearing. If the
residence thus required is the actual or constructive permanent home,
otherwise known as legal residence or domicile, then the applicant must
be domiciled in the Philippines on both dates. Consequently, when
section 7 of Commonwealth Act No. 473 imposes upon the applicant the
duty to state in his sworn application “that he will reside
continuously in the Philippines” in the intervening period, it can not
refer merely to the need of an uninterrupted domicile or legal
residence, irrespective of actual residence, for said legal residence
or domicile is obligatory under the law, even in the absence of the
requirement contained in said clause, and, it is well settled that,
whenever possible, a legal provision must not be so construed as to be
a useless surplusage, and, accordingly, meaningless, in the sense of
adding nothing to the law or having no effect whatsoever thereon. This
consequences may be avoided only by construing the clause in question
as demanding actual residence in the Philippines from the filing of the
petition for naturalization to its determination by the court.

Indeed, although the words “residence” and “domicile” are often used
interchangeably, each has, in strict legal parlance, a meaning distinct
and different from that of the other.

* * * * * * *

“* * * There is a decided preponderance of authority
to the effect that residence and domicile are not synonymous in
connection with citizenship, jurisdiction, limitations, school
privileges, probate and succession.

“* * * the greater or
less degree of permanency contemplated or intended furnishes a clue to
the sometimes shadowy distinction between residence and domicile. To be
a resident one must be physically present in that place for a longer or
shorter period of time. “The essential distinction between residence
and domicile is this: the first involves the intent to leave when the
purpose for which he has taken up his abode ceases; the other has no
such intent, the abiding is animo manendi. One may seek a
place for purposes of pleasure, of business, or of health. If his
intent be to remain it becomes his domicile; if his intent is to leave
as soon as his purpose is accomplished, it is his residence. Perhaps
the most satisfactory definition is that one is a resident of a
place from which his departure is indefinite as to time, definite as to
and for this purpose he has made the place his temporary home.

many legal purposes there is a clear distinction between ‘residence’
and ‘domicile.’ A person may hold an office or may have business or
employment or other affair which requires him to reside at a particular
place. His intention is to remain there while the office or business or
employment or other concern, continues; but he has no purpose to remain
beyond the time the interest exists which determines his place of
abode. Domicile is characterized by the animus manendi. * * *.

“Residence and domicile are not to be held synonymous. Residence is an act. Domicile is an act coupled with an intent. A man may have a residence in one state or country and his domicile in another,
and he may be a nonresident of the state of his domocile in the sense
that his place of actual residence is not there. Hence the great weight
of authorities.—rightly so, as we think—that a debtor, although his legal domicile is in the state, may reside or remain out
of it for so long a time and under such circumstances as to acquire so
to speak, an actual non-residence within the meaning of the attachment

“Domicile is a much broader term than residence. A man may have his domicile in one state and actually reside in another, or in a foreign country.
If he has once had a residence in a particular place and removed to
another, but with the intention of returning after a certain time,
however long that may be, his domicile is at the former residence and his residence at the place of his temporary habitation.
Residence and habitation are generally regarded as synonymous. A
resident and an inhabitant mean the same thing. A person resident is
defined to be one ‘dwelling and having his abode in any place an
inhabitant,’ ‘one that resides in a place.’

The question of domicile is not involved in determining whether a person is a resident of a state or country.
The compatibility of domicile in one state with actual residence in
another has been asserted and acted upon in the law of attachment by
the Courts of New York, New Jersey, Maryland, North Carolina,
Mississippi and Wisconsin.

Residence indicates permanency of occupation, distinct from lodging or boarding, or temporary occupation.
It does not include as much as domicile, which requires intention
combined with residence.’ * * * ‘one may seek a place for purposes of
pleasure, of business, or of health. If his intent be to remain, it
becomes his domicile; if his intent be to leave as soon as his purpose is accomplished, it is his residence.’

derivation of the two words ‘residence’ and ‘domicile’ fairly
illustrates the distinction in their meaning. A home (domus) is
something more than a temporary place of remaining (residendi) however
long such stay may continue.

‘While, generally speaking,
domicile and residence mean one and the same thing, residence combined
with intention to remain, constitutes domicile while an established
abode, fixed permanently for a time [1] for business or other purposes, constitutes a residence, though there may be an intent, existing all the while, to return to the true domicile.’

is a difference between domicile and residence. ‘Residence’ is used to
indicate the place of abode, whether permanent or temporary; ‘domicile’
denotes a fixed permanent residence to which, when absent, one has the
intention of returning. A man may have a residence in one place and a
domicile in another.’ ‘Residence is not domicile, but domicile is
residence coupled with intention to remain for an unlimited time. A man
can have but one domicile for one and the same purpose at any time, but
he may have numerous places of residence. His place of residence
generally is his place of domicile, but is not by any means necessarily
so, since no length of residence without intention of remaining will
constitute domicile.” (Kennan on Residence and Domicile, pp. 26, 31-35)

Such distinction was, in effect, applied by this Court in the case of Domingo Dy, alias
William Dy Chinco vs. Republic of the Philippines (92 Phil., 278). The
applicant in that case was born in Naga, Camarines Sur, on May 19,
1915. “At the age of seven or eight, or in the year 1923, he went to
China, with his mother to study, and while he used to go back and forth
from China to the Philippines during school vacations, he did not come
back to live permanently here until the year 1937.” He applied for
naturalization in 1949. The question arose whether, having been
domiciled in the Philippines for over 30 years, he could be naturalized
as a citizen of the Philippines, with- out a previous declaration of
intention, in view of section 6 of Commonwealth Act No. 473 (as amended
by Commonwealth Act No. 535), exempting from such requirement “those
who have resided in the Philippines continuously for a period of thirty
years or more, before filing their application.” This Court decided the
question in the negative, upon the ground that “actual and substantial
residence within the Philippines, not legal residence”, or “domicile,”
alone, is essential to the enjoyment of the benefits of said exemption.

If said actual and substantial residence—not merely legal residence—
is necessary to dispense with the filing of a declaration of intention,
it is even more necessary during the period intervening from the filing
of the petition for naturalization to the date of the hearing thereof.
In this connection, it should be remembered that, upon the filing of
said petition, the clerk of court is ordained by law to publish it with
a notice of the date of the hearing, which, pursuant to section 7 of
Act No. 2927, shall not be less than 60 days from the date of the last
publication. This period was extended to two (2) months, by section 7
of Commonwealth Act No. 473, and then to six (6) months, by Republic
Act No. 530. The purpose of said period, particularly the extensions
thereof—like the requirement of making a declaration of intention at
least one (1) year prior to the filing of the application—is not
difficult to determine. It is nothing but to give the government
sufficient time to check the truth of the statements made in said
declaration of intention, if any, and in the application for
naturalization, especially the allegations therein relative to the
possession of the qualifications and none of the disqualifications
provided by law. Although data pertinent to said qualifications and
disqualifications could generally be obtained from persons familiar
with the applicant, it is to be expected that the information thus
secured would consist, mainly, of conclusions and opinions of said
individuals. Indeed, what else can they be expected to say on whether
the applicant has a good moral character; or whether he believes in the
principles underlying our Constitution; or whether his conduct has been
proper and irreproachable; or whether he is suffering from mental
alienation or incurable contagious diseases, or has not mingled
socially with the Filipinos, or has not evinced a sincere desire to
learn and embrace the customs, traditions and ideals of the Filipinos?
Obviously, the Government would be in a better position to draw its own
conclusions on these matters if its officers could personally observe
the behaviour of the applicant and confer with him if necessary.

In the case at bar, the Government has not had any chance whatsoever
to thus keep a watchful eye on petitioner herein. Immediately after the
filing of his application—and notwithstanding the explicit promise
therein made by him, under oath, to the effect that he would reside
continuously in the Philippines “from the date of the filing of his
petition up to the time of his admission to Philippine citizenship”—he
returned to the United States, where he stayed, continuously, until
October 13, 1951. For this reason, when this case was called for
hearing, for the first time, on July 12, 1951, his counsel had to move
for continuance. The adverse effect of such absence upon the
opportunity needed by the Government to observe petitioner herein was
enhanced by the fact that, having been born in the Philippines, where
he finished his primary and secondary education, petitioner did not
have to file, and did not file, a declaration of intention prior to the
filing of his petition for naturalization. Thus, the Government had no
previous notice of his intention to apply for naturalization until the
filing of his petition and could not make the requisite investigation
prior thereto.

Moreover, considering that petitioner had stayed in the United
States, practically without interruption, from early in 1947 to late in
1951, or for almost five (5) years, over three years and a half of
which preceded the filing of the application, it may be said that he
resided—as distinguished from domiciled—in the United States at that
time and for over a year subsequently thereto. In fact, under our laws,
residence for six (6) months suffices to entitle a person to exercise
the right of suffrage in a given municipality (section 98, Republic Act
No. 180); residence for one (1) year, to run for a seat in the House of
Representatives (sec. 7, Art. VI, of the Constitution); and residence
for two (2) years, to run for the Senate (sec. 4, Art. VI, of the
Constitution). In some states of the United States, a residence of
several weeks or months is enough to establish a domicile for purposes
of divorce. Although in these cases the word “residence” has been
construed, generally, to mean “domicile”—that is to say, actual
residence, coupled with the intention to stay permanently, at least at
the time of the acquisition of said domicile—it would seem apparent
from the foregoing that the length of petitioner’s habitation in the
United States amply justifies the conclusion that he was residing
abroad when his application for naturalization was filed and for
fifteen (15) months thereafter, and that this is precisely the
situation sought to be forestalled by the law in enjoining the
applicant to “reside continuously in the Philippines from the date of
the filing of the petition up to the time of his admission to
Philippine citizenship,” unless this legal mandate—which did not exist
under Act No. 2927, and was advisedly inserted, therefore, by section 7
of Commonwealth Act No. 473—were to be regarded as pure verbiage,
devoid, not only, of any force or effect, but, also, of any intent or
purpose, as it would, to our mind, turn out to be, were we to adopt
petitioner’s pretense.

In short, we are of the opinion that petitioner herein has not
complied with the requirements of section 7 of Commonwealth Act No.
473, and with the aforementioned promise made by him in his
application, and, accordingly, is not entitled, in the present
proceedings, to a judgment in his favor. Wherefore, the decision
appealed from is hereby reversed, and the case dismissed, with costs
against the petitioner, but without prejudice to the filing of another
application, if he so desires, in conformity with law. It is so ordered.

Pablo, Bengzon, Padilla, Reyes, A., Jugo, Bautista Angelo and Reyes, J.B.L., JJ., concur.

Date created: July 28, 2017


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