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106 Phil. 735

[ G. R. No. L-11525, December 24, 1959 ]




Appeal from a decision of the Court of First Instance of Baguio City, Hon.  Jesus de Veyra,  presiding, denying the petition for  naturalization of Anandram Dargani, a citizen of India.

The record discloses the  following: Petitioner came to the Philippines in  June 1936 and left  for  India  in 1941. In 1940, he  started as a salesman of his uncle's company, the Toloram Maljimar & Co., and was  obviously  still  employed in  that capacity when he left for  India  in  1941.

When petitioner was in India he married an Indian citizen. and three of his four children were born there.   In 1947 he returned to the Philippines.  On July 13, 1952 he filed his declaration  of  intention to become a citizen of the Philippines and on July 15, 1955 he filed his application for naturalization.  Petitioner alleges in his petition that he returned to the Philippines in 1947 soon after the resumption of the maritime transportation between  the Philippines and India, and he states in his brief that he was unable  to  return to  the Philippines from 1941 to 1947, because of the outbreak of the World War II.  Witnesses Josefina Floresca and Antonio Rillera  testified that they have personally known the petitioner as  a student since 1936 and  since his return  to the Philippines.

There is no question about the  qualifications of applicant for admission except the continuity of his residence, which is denied by the Government, and the competency of his witnesses as to his character and other qualifications.

The trial  court gave two reasons for denying  the application,  namely: that petitioner  has  not continuously resided in the Philippines for the period  of 10 years required by  Section  2 of Commonwealth Act  No. 473  (otherwise known  as Naturalization Law),  and that  petitioner's witnesses have not personally known him during  the  same period of time.

Appellant claims that the phrase "continuous residence" does not mean actual physical presence without interruption.  He argues that absence for a  short time does not destroy the  continuity of his residence, citing several American cases, In re  Conis, D. C. N. Y., 35 ed.  960,  961; U. S. vs. Cantini, Pa., 212, F. 925, 926,  129, C. C. A. 445; In  re  Schneider, 164,  F.  335, 336,  and  Philippine case, Ramon Ting alias  Tian Yu vs.  Republic, etc.,  101  Phil., 1038; 54 Off. Gaz. (11), 3496. While these authorities cited by appellant affirm that absolute continuity without absence for short periods is not required, not one of them asserts that absence for six out  of  the ten  years required does not disqualify an applicant.  On the  other hand, the Solicitor General claims that continuous physical presence is required, and this may be implied from the ruling of the Supreme Court in the case of  Domingo Dy alias William Dy  Cinco vs. Republic,  92 Phil., 278, 48 Off. Gaz.  (11), 4813 and Wilfred Yu vs. Republic,  95 Phil., 890; 50 Off. Gaz., (10), 4781.

Petitioner's claim that actual physical presence is  not required everyday of  the statutory period is correct.  Not every absence is fatal to continuous residence.   There may be a temporary absence which may  not be considered as breaking the continuity of the applicant's residence, where there is "animus revertendi".   It is  unreasonable to  interpret  the   phrase   "continuous residence"  strictly  and literally.  Congress could not have intended absurd  interpretation  of the provisions  of the  Naturalization  Law Thus, this Court in  the case of Ramon Ting alias Ting Yu, supra ruled:
"The Government, however,  claims that the petitioner failed to comply with the naturalization law requiring the filing  of  a  declaration of intention to become a citizen because although he may have come  to the Philippines in 1920, nevertheless, he absented himself by going back to China in 1925, and although he returned to the Philippines after six months,  the continuous residence of thirty years  required  by  law for exemption from  the duty or filing the aforementioned declaration should be computed  from that year, 1925, in which case, when he filed his petition for  naturalization on  December 15, 1950, his continuous residence  was only about twenty-five  years.  We do not believe that a  short absence from the Philippines,  such as  the  visit made by the petitioner to China for a period of six months  in 1925, should be held  to  interrupt his residence begun in 1920.  In the case of  Leon Miranda Tio Liok vs. Republic  of the Philippines,  G. R. No.  L-4545, prom.  October 29, 1952, we held that absence  of  short duration from the Philippines did not interrupt or affect continuous residence of thirty years required by law for  exemption from the duty to file  a declaration  of  intention."  (pp.  64-65,   Philippine  Citizenship  and Naturalization, Velayo).
Whether in the case at bar  the petitioner  intended  to come back to the Philippines is  not disclosed in the record. But his absence of six years from the Philippines is not of  a short  duration.  Petitioner  during that period got married in India and raised his children there.  There is no evidence that he left properties or was engaged  personally in business in the Philippines when he left for India in 1941.  He was only a salesman in the company of his uncle.  His  purpose of leaving  the  country is not known and there is no evidence that  when he left  he  had  the positive intention to return.  We hold that under the above circumstances his absence for six years from the country has broken the continuity of his residence.  Consequently, the petition should be  denied because petitioner does  not have  the 10-year continuous residence required by law.

Our conclusion on  the first question make a consideration  of  the  other  ground of   denying  the   petition unnecessary.

The decision appealed from is hereby affirmed, with costs against appellant.

Paras,  C. J., Bengzon, Padilla, Montemayor,  Bautista Angelo,  Concepcio,  Endencia,  Barrera, and Gutierrez David,  JJ.,  concur.