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[ GR No. L-12408, Dec 28, 1959 ]



106 Phil. 755

[ G. R. No. L-12408, December 28, 1959 ]




This is  a petition for naturalization filed by  Lee Cho alias Sem  Lee before the Court of First Instance of Cebu.

After the reception of the evidence, the court on August 30, 1956 rendered decision finding petitioner qualified to be a Filipino citizen.  However, on October 2, 1957, the government filed a  motion for  new trial on the ground  of newly discovered  evidence which if presented may affect the  qualification of petitioner, and finding the same well founded, the court entertained the motion.  After the re hearing, where the  newly discovered evidence was presented, the court again rendered  decision reaffirming  its holding  that  petitioner is qualified  to become a Filipino citizen, whereupon the government interposed the present appeal.

Petitioner was  born  in Amoy, China, on September 22, 1907,  of Chinese  parents.  He came to the Philippines sometime  in  February, 1921 and  was  given the corresponding alien certificate of residence and registration. He settled in  the City of Cebu where he has continuosuly resided  up to the present time.  On December 8,  1929,  he married one Sy Siok Bin  with whom he had  13 children, all born in the City of Cebu.  All these children  had been issued the corresponding alien certificate of  registration, With the exception of Lourdes Lee who married a naturalized Filipino citizen  named Lim  Kee Guan.  With the exception of William Lee who is not of school age, Angelita who reached only grade five and Lourdes who  stopped in third year high school, the other children are  at  present studying in private schools and colleges recognized by the government.

Petitioner studied from first  grade to  seventh grade in the Cebu  Chinese High School,  a private institution recognized by  the  government.  He and  his  family  profess the Roman  Catholic faith.  He  speaks  and writes  English and the Cebu dialect.   From 1921 to the outbreak of the last war,  petitioner was engaged in corn business in the City  of  Cebu  and  from  1946  was engaged  in  lumber business, having been  associated with some Filipinos.  He invested P5,000.00  capital in the business  and  at  present the actual worth of his share is about P20,000.00.  Petitioner is receiving a monthly salary of P400.00 and  realizes a profit share worth P10,000.00 every year.   He has no  tax liability to the government.  In  other respects, he possesses all  the qualifications and none of the disqualifications prescribed by law.

Before an applicant  may apply for Philippine citizenship, the law requires that  he file a  declaration of intention to become a Filipino  citizen one year prior to the filing of his application  unless he is exempt  from complying  with said requirement  (Section  6, Naturalization Law).   This section exempts one from filing a declaration of intention in  two cases:  (a) if he is born in the Philippines  and has received  primary and secondary  education  in  any school recognized by the government;  and  (b)  if he has continuously resided  in the Philippines for a  period of 30  years or more provided  that he has given primary and secondary education to all  his  children either in a public school or  in private schools recognized  by the government.

In the  instant case, petitioner has not filed  any  declaration of  intention to  become a Filipino citizen because, as he  claims, he has resided continuously in  the Philippines for a period of  more than 30 years and has given  primary and secondary  education to all his children  in  private schools recognized by the government.  This claim  is, however, disputed by the government who contends that petitioner  has failed to comply with the requirement of  the law regarding  his duty to  afford primary and  secondary education to all his children because he failed to give such education to his daughters Angelita Lee and Lourdes Lee.

We  find  merit in  this contention.  In the first place, the evidence shows that Angelita Lee has only reached grade five and no explanation was given why no secondary education was afforded her  which requires the teaching ox Philippine Civics, Philippine History and Philippine Government, subjects that are precisely required of aliens who desire  to  embrace Philippine citizenship for their indoctrination  on matters concerning our history,  government and nationalism.  The reason  advanced that she was  not able to complete her studies because she got married is not only not satisfactory but betrays the sincerity of petitioner  in  embracing our citieznship.

The  case of  Lourdes Lee is  even  more  significant.   It appears that she studied only as far as third  year high school  and1 then stopped allegedly because of poor  health. But, by her own admission in open court, it was shown that in spite of her  alleged sickness she continued  her studies, not  in the high school proper, but in  a  Chinese school  which employs  strictly Chinese  curriculum where Philippine Civics, Philippine History and Philippine Government are hot taught. This circumstance also betrays the sincerity of petitioner to become  a Filipino citizen  for if his  motive were proper he  should not have tolerated such deviation  from the educational requirement  of  the law.

Considering  that the provisions  of the Naturalization Law should be strictly construed in  order that its laudable and nationalistic purpose  may be fully fulfilled,[1] we are persuaded to conclude that petitioner  has failed to qualify to  become a Filipino citizen and so his petition  should be denied.

Wherefore, the decision appealed from is reversed, with costs against petitioner.

Paras, C. J., Padilla, Montemayor, Labrador, Concepcion, Reyes, J. B. L., Endencia, Barrera, and Gutierrez  David JJ.,  concur.

[1] Ang Yee Koe Sengkee vs. Republic of the Philippines, 90 Phil.,