[ G.R. No. L-5522, December 21, 1953 ]
IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION FOR NATURALIZATION OF LEONCIO HO BENLUY. LEONCIO HO BENLUY, PETITIONER AND APPELLANT, VS. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, OPPOSITOR AND APPELLEE.
D E C I S I O N
"To prove that the applicant is a strong believer in our constitution and in what is called 'free enterprise', this witness emphasized this affirmation by stating that the applicant even went to the extent of taking active part during the elections, so much so that he (applicant) gave financial contribution to be spent in the election campaign to this witness who, during the elections of 1947 and 1949, was the Campaign Manager of the Liberal Party in the municipality of Obando, Bulacan; that the applicant, aside from giving financial help during the said elections of 1947 and 1949 which amounted to P200 and P500 on two occasions, went with the witness to Obando to talk personally with his sub-agents in said municipality, and due to this intervention of the applicant said sub-agents supported the party of Mr. Anastacio."
This evidence about the part played by the applicant in the past elections alerted the representatives of the Solicitor General and after the trial he filed a strong written opposition to the granting of the application, resulting in the trial court denying the application for naturalization. Benluy is now appealing from that decision.
Considering the circumstances under which the evidence of applicant's political activities was presented, namely, that it did not come from the opposition or any other party but himself and through his own witness, we were at the beginning inclined not to attach much importance to that phase of his residence in the Philippines and association with the Filipinos. He was never prosecuted for that violation of Election Code and even if the Government were now inclined to prosecute him, the offense has already prescribed. Furthermore, as already stated, in all other respects the applicant has established his qualifications and the absence of any disqualifications. However, the law is clear. Section 56 of the Revised Election Code reads
"SEC. 56. Active intervention of foreigners. No foreigner shall aid any candidate, directly or indirectly, or take part in or to influence in any manner any election."
Under section 183 of the same Code, the violation is considered a serious election offense and under section 185 it is penalized with imprisonment of not less than one year and one day but not more than five years and in case of a foreigner, shall in addition be sentenced to deportation for not less than five years but not more than ten years, to be enforced after the prison term has been served. These provisions of the Revised Election Code may not be taken lightly, much less ignored. They were intended to discourage foreigners from taking active part in or otherwise interfering with our elections, under penalty not only of imprisonment but also deportation. It might well be that as already stated, the evidence about this violation of the election law was given by his own witness who in all likelihood gave it in good faith and in all friendship to the applicant to bolster the latter's application for naturalization, without realizing that by said declaration he was forever closing the door to Benluy's ever becoming a Filipino citizen. But the law must be applied and enforced. It is merely a piece of bad luck for him. From the standpoint of the Government however, it was fortunate that said evidence was brought up, thereby preventing the granting of Philippine citizenship to a foreigner who tho even in his ignorance of the law and at the instance of his Filipino friends, violated one of the important provisions of our election law. The decision appealed from is hereby affirmed, with costs.
Paras, C. J., Pablo, Bengzon, Padilla, Tuason, Reyes, Jugo, Bautista Angelo and Labrador, JJ., concur.