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Digest: Gayo v. Verceles (452 SCRA 504, 2005)

Digest: Gayo v. Verceles (452 SCRA 504, 2005)

Facts:  the respondent migrated to the United States of America (U.S.A.) with her family to look for greener pastures. Although her husband was granted American citizenship, she retained her citizenship as a Filipino. In 1993, she returned to the Philippines for good. The following year, she was appointed as Treasurer of the B.P. Verceles Foundation and regularly attended the meetings of its Board of Directors.

In 1995, the respondent registered herself as a voter of Precinct No. 16 in Tubao, La Union. As certified by the Assistant Revenue District Officer, Revenue District No. 3 of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) in San Fernando City, the respondent also filed her income tax returns for the taxable years 1996 and 1997.  Between the years 1993 to 1997, the respondent would travel to the U.S.A. to visit her children.

The respondent abandoned her status as lawful permanent resident of the U.S.A. effective November 5, 1997 for the purpose of filing her candidacy for Mayor of Tubao, La Union in the May 11, 1998 elections. On January 28, 1998, she surrendered her alien registration receipt card before the Immigration and Naturalization Service of the American Embassy in Manila.

 respondent ran in the May 11, 1998 elections and was elected Mayor of Tubao, La Union.

Thereafter, during the May 14, 2001 elections, the petitioner ran for re-election and won. She was proclaimed as the duly-elected Mayor on May 16, 2001

 the petitioner, also a candidate for Mayor during the May 2001 elections, filed a petition for quo warranto with the RTC of Agoo, La Union. He prayed that (a) the respondent be declared disqualified to hold the position of Mayor of Tubao, La Union; (b) the respondent's proclamation as winner be declared null and void; and (c) the petitioner be proclaimed as the duly-elected mayor.

Issue: Whether or not the respondent reacquired her residency in the Philippines

Ruling: Yes. The term “residence,” as used in the election law, imports not only an intention to reside in a fixed place but also personal presence in that place, coupled with conduct indicative of such intention. “Domicile” denotes a fixed permanent residence to which when absent for business or pleasure, or for like reasons, one intends to return….that a new domicile is reacquired if the following conditions concur: (1)residence or bodily presence in the new locality; (2) an intention to remain there; and (3) an intention to abandon the old domicile. There must be animus manendi coupled with animus non revertendi. The purpose to remain in or at the domicile of choice must be for an indefinite period of time; the change of residence must be voluntary; and the residence at the place chosen for the new domicile must be actual.

Applying case law to the present case, it can be said that the respondent effectively abandoned her residency in the Philippines by her acquisition of the status of a permanent U.S. resident.  Nonetheless, we find that the respondent reacquired her residency in the Philippines even before the holding of the May 2001 elections.  The records show that she surrendered her green card to the Immigration and Naturalization Service of the American Embassy way back in 1998. By such act, her intention to abandon her U.S. residency could not have been made clearer.  Moreover, when she decided to relocate to the Philippines for good in 1993, she continued living here and only went to the U.S.A. on periodic visits to her children who were residing there.  Moreover, she was elected Mayor in the 1998 elections and served as such for the duration of her term.  We find such acts sufficient to establish that the respondent intended to stay in the Philippines indefinitely and, ultimately, that she has once again made the Philippines her permanent residence.

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