by LawMistress



In January, 1920, the petitioner Fortunato Ortua filed an application with the Bureau of Lands for the purchase of a tract of public land situated in the municipality of San Jose, Province of Camarines

Sur. Following an investigation conducted by the Bureau of Lands, Ortua's application was rejected, allowing him, however, to file a sale or lease application for the portion of the land classified to be suitable for commercial purposes, within a period of sixty days from the... date of the decision and upon payment of P3,000 for accrued rents. Two motions for reconsideration of the decision were filed and denied. On appeal to the then Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Agriculture and Commerce), the decision was affirmed, except that the... sum of P3,000 was reduced to P400.

It should be explained that one condition for the purchase of a tract of public agricultural land, provided by the Public Land Law, Act No. 2874, in its sections 23 and 88, is that the purchaser shall be a citizen of lawful age of the Philippine Islands or of the United

States. Fortunato Ortua in his application stated that he was a Filipino citizen, but the Director of Lands held that on the contrary, Ortua was a Chinese citizen.

Fortunato Ortua was born in 1885 in

Lagonoy, Camarines Sur, Philippine Islands, being the natural son of Irene Demesa, a Filipina, and Joaquin Ortua, a Chinese. In 1896 Fortunato was sent to China to study. While he was in China his father and mother were legally married. Fortunato returned to the Philippines in

1906, that is, when he was twenty-one years of age.

It was conceded by the Director of Lands that presumptively Fortunato Ortua was a Philippine citizen, but certain acts of Ortua were pointed to as demonstrating that he had forfeited his Philippine citizenship

Ortua voluntarily applied for a landing... certificate of residence which was issued by the Insular Collector of Customs and which is only given to Chinese persons.

when Ortua applied for the registration of a boat, and it was denied by the Insular Collector of Customs on the ground that the appellant was a Chinese... citizen, Ortua submitted to the ruling.

A discretion is lodged by... law in the Director of Lands which should not be interfered with. The decisions of the Director of Lands on the construction of the Public Land Law are entitled to great respect by the courts.

decision rendered by the Director of Lands and approved by the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce, upon a... question of fact is conclusive and not subject to be reviewed by the courts, in the absence of a showing that such decision was rendered in consequence of fraud, imposition, or mistake, other than error of judgment in estimating the value or effect of evidence, regardless of... whether or not it is consistent with the preponderance of the evidence, so long as there is some evidence upon which the finding in question could be made.


to determine if the question of law arising from the undisputed evidence was correctly decided by the Director of Lands. This question is, if the petitioner Fortunato Ortua should be considered to be a

Philippine citizen or a Chinese citizen.


Presumptively it is admitted that he is a Philippine citizen

Fortunato Ortua had a sort of a dual citizenship, and had it within his power either to elect to become a Philippine citizen or a Chinese citizen.

we doubt very much if it could be found that Ortua has by his own acts repudiated his Philippine citizenship and chosen Chinese citizenship.

The Director of Lands gave too much prominence, we think, to two minor facts, susceptible of explanation.

When Ortua returned from China at the age of twenty-one, it was the most natural thing in the world for him to land as a Chinese, for this would facilitate entry and obviate complications.

when Ortua applied for the registration of a boat, there may have been any number... of reasons why he did not care to appeal from the decision of the Insular Collector of Customs.

some consideration should be given to the intention of the petitioner, and he vigorously insists that it is his desire to be considered a Philippine citizen. He has... taken a Filipino name. He has gone into business and has improved the property here in question to a great extent.

There has been no implied renunciation of citizenship, because the petitioner has been domiciled in these Islands except for a short period during his infancy when... he temporarily sojourned in China for study.