Renunciation of foreign citizenship must be sworn

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renunciation of foreign citizenship must be sworn before any public officer authorized to administer oath. The petitioner appealed to the COMELEC but the appeal was dismissed by the Second Division in its Order dated November 30, 2010 for failure to pay the docket fees within the prescribed period. On motion for reconsideration, the appeal was reinstated by the COMELEC en banc in its Resolution dated September 6, 2011. In the same issuance, the substantive merits of the appeal were given due course. The COMELEC en banc concurred with the findings and conclusion of the RTC; it also granted the Motions for Execution Pending Appeal filed by the private respondents. Hence, the present petition ascribing grave abuse of discretion to the COMELEC en banc. Posed for resolution are the following issues: I) Whether the COMELEC en banc may resolve the merits of an appeal after ruling on its reinstatement; II) Whether COMELEC en banc may order the execution of a judgment rendered by a trial court in an election case; III) Whether the private respondents are barred from questioning the qualifications of the petitioner; and IV) For purposes of determining the petitioners eligibility to run for public office, whether the “sworn renunciation of foreign citizenship” in Section 5(2) of R.A. No. 9225 is a mere pro-forma requirement. The power to decide motions for reconsideration in election cases is arrogated unto the COMELEC en banc by Section 3, Article IX-C of the Constitution, viz: Sec. 3. The commission on Elections may sit en banc or in two divisions, and shall promulgate its rules of procedure in order to expedite disposition of election cases, including pre- proclamation controversies. All such election cases shall be heard and decided in division, provided that motions for reconsideration of decisions shall be decided by the Commission en banc. A complementary provisions is present in Section 5(c), Rule 3 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure, to wit: Any motions to reconsider a decision, resolution, order or ruling of a Division shall be resolved by the Commission en banc except motions on interlocutory orders of the division which shall be resolved by the division which issued the order. Considering that the above cited provisos do not set any limits to the COMELEC en banc’s prerogative in resolving a motion for reconsideration, there is nothing to prevent the body from directly adjudicating the substantive merits of an appeal after ruling for its reinstatement instead of remanding the same to the division that initially dismissed it. We thus see no impropriety much more grave abuse of discretion on the part of the COMELEC en banc when it proceeded to decide the substantive merits of the petitioner’s appeal after ruling for its reinstatement.
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