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Ma vs. Fernandez, Jr

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Partnership Law case digest. Discussion on Registration of Partnerships
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  Ma v. Fernandez, Jr., [G.R. No. 183133; July 26, 2010 ] TOPIC : Registration Requirements; When capital is Php 3,000 or More (Art. 1772) PONENTE : PEREZ, J.: AUTHOR  : Kelsey NOTES: FACTS: 1.   Balgamelo Cabiling Ma, Felix Cabiling Ma, Jr., Valeriano Cabiling Ma, Lechi Ann Ma, Arceli Ma, Nicolas Ma, and Isidro Ma are the children of Felix Ma, a Taiwanese, and Dolores Sillona Cabiling, a Filipina.  2.   Petitioners Felix, Jr., Balgamelo and Valeriano were all born under the 1935 Philippine Constitution. 3.   They were all raised in the Philippines and have resided in this country for almost 60 years ; they spent their whole lives, studied and received their primary and secondary education in the country; they do not speak nor understand the Chinese language, have not set foot in Taiwan, and do not know any relative of their father; they have not even traveled abroad; and they have already raised their respective families in the Philippines. 4.   During their age of minority, they secured from the Bureau of Immigration their Alien Certificates of Registration (ACRs). 5.   Immediately upon reaching the age of 21, they claimed Philippine citizenship in accordance with Section 1(4), Article IV, of the 1935 Constitution, which provides that “(t)hose whose mothers are citizens of the Philippines and, upon reaching the age of majority, elect Philippine citizenship”  are citizens of the Philippines. 6.   Thus, on 15 August 1969, Felix, Jr. executed his affidavit of election of Philippine citizenship and took his oath of allegiance  before then Judge Jose L. Gonzalez. Balgamelo did the same before a notary public. In 1978, Valeriano took his oath of allegiance before then Judge Salvador C. Sering, the fact of which the latter attested to in his Affidavit. 7.   Having taken their oath of allegiance as Philippine citizens, petitioners, however, failed to have the necessary documents registered in the civil registry as required under Section 1 of Commonwealth Act No. 625. 8.   More than 30 years after they elected Philippine citizenship that Balgamelo and Felix, Jr. did so. On the other hand, there is no showing that Valeriano complied with the registration requirement. 9.   Individual certifications issued by the Office of the City Election Officer, COMELEC show that all of them are registered voters of Barangay Washington, Precinct No. 0015A since June 1997, and that records on previous registrations are no longer available because of the mandatory general registration every 10 years. 10.   Moreover, aside from exercising their right of suffrage, Balgamelo is one of the incumbent Barangay Kagawads in Barangay Washington, Surigao City. 11.   The Bureau of Immigration received the Complaint-Affidavit of a certain Mat G. Catral alleging that Felix Ma and his 7 children are undesirable and overstaying aliens. Mr. Catral, however, did not participate in the proceedings, and the Ma family could not but believe that the complaint against them was politically motivated because they strongly supported a candidate in Surigao City in the 2004 National and Local Elections. ISSUE(S) : 1.   W/N public respondents are undocumented and/or improperly documented aliens HELD : 1.    No. RATIO : Petitioners complied with the first and second requirements upon reaching the age of majority. It was only the registration of the documents of election with the civil registry that was belatedly done. We rule that under the facts peculiar to the petitioners, the right to elect Philippine citizenship has not been lost and they should be allowed to complete the statutory requirements for such election. We are not prepared to state that the mere exercise of suffrage, being elected public official, continuous and uninterrupted stay in the Philippines, and other similar acts showing exercise of Philippine citizenship can take the place of election of citizenship. What we now say is that where, as in petitioners’ case, the election of citizenship has in fact been done and documented within the constitutional and statutory timeframe, the registration of the documents of election beyond the frame should be allowed if in the meanwhile positive acts of citizenship have publicly, consistently, and continuously been done. The actual exercise of Philippine citizenship, for over half a century by the herein petitioners, is actual notice to the Philippine  public which is equivalent to formal registration of the election of Philippine citizenship. In a contract of partnership, we said that the purpose of registration is to give notice to third parties; that failure to register the contract does not affect the liability of the partnership and of the partners to third persons; and that neither does such failure affect the partners hip’s juridical personality.  An unregistered contract of partnership is valid as among the partners, so long as it has the essential requisites, because the main purpose of registration is to give notice to third parties, and it can be assumed that the members themselves knew of the contents of their contract. The non-registration of a deed of donation does not also affect its validity. Registration is not a requirement for the validity of the contract as between the parties, for the effect of registration serves chiefly to bind third persons.  Likewise relevant is the pronouncement that registration is not a mode of acquiring a right. In an analogous case involving an unrecorded deed of sale, we reiterated the settled rule that registration is not a mode of acquiring ownership. Registration does not confer ownership. It is not a mode of acquiring dominion, but only a means of confirming the fact of its existence with notice to the world at large. Registration, then, is the confirmation of the existence of a fact. In the instant case, registration is the confirmation of election as such election. It is not the registration of the act of election, although a valid requirement under Commonwealth Act No. 625, that will confer Philippine citizenship on the petitioners. It is only a means of confirming the fact that citizenship has been claimed. The petitioners timely took their oath of allegiance to the Philippines. This was a serious undertaking. It was commitment and fidelity to the state coupled with a pledge “to renounce absolutely and forever all allegiance” to any other state. This  was unqualified acceptance of their identity as a Filipino and the complete disavowal of any other nationality. Petitioners have passed decades of their lives in the Philippines as Filipinos. Their present status having been formed by their  past, petitioners can no longer have any national identity except that which they chose upon reaching the age of reason. Having a Filipino mother is permanent. It is the basis of the right of the petitioners to elect Philippine citizenship. Petitioners elected Philippine citizenship in form and substance. The failure to register the election in the civil registry should not defeat the election and resultingly negate the permanent fact that they have a Filipino mother. The lacking requirements may still be complied with subject to the imposition of appropriate administrative penalties, if any. The documents they submitted supporting their allegations that they have already registered with the civil registry, although belatedly, should be examined for validation purposes by the appropriate agency, in this case, the Bureau of Immigration. Other requirements embodied in the administrative orders and other issuances of the Bureau of Immigration and the Department of Justice shall be complied with within a reasonable time. CASE LAW/ DOCTRINE : DISSENTING/CONCURRING OPINION(S) : (If any)
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