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D. Modes of acquiring citizenship


The following are the modes of acquiring citizenship:

1) Jus Sanguinis;

2) Naturalization;

3) Res Judicata; and,

4) Jus Soli. (Tecson v. COMELEC, En Banc,G.R. Nos. 161434, 161634, 161824, 03 March 2004)

Case Law

1) In Tecson v. COMELEC, the date, month and year of birth of Fenando Poe Jr. (FPJ) appeared to be 20 August 1939 during the regime of the 1935 Constitution. Through its history, four modes of acquiring citizenship – naturalization, jus soli, res judicata and jus sanguinis – had been in vogue. Only two, i.e., jus soli and jus sanguinis, could qualify a person to being a “natural-born” citizen of the Philippines. Jus soli did not last long. With the adoption of the 1935 Constitution and the reversal of Roa in Tan Chong vs. Secretary of Labor (1947), jus sanguinis or blood relationship would now become the primary basis of citizenship by birth. (Ibid.)

a. Jus Sangguini

The Philippine law on citizenship adheres to the principle of jus sanguinis. Thereunder, a child follows the nationality or citizenship of the parents regardless of the place of his/her birth, as opposed to the doctrine of jus soli which determines nationality or citizenship on the basis of place of birth. (Valles v. COMELEC, En Banc, G.R. No. 137000, 09 August 2000)

The principle of jus sanguinis, which confers citizenship by virtue of blood relationship, was subsequently retained under the 1974 and 1987 Constitutions. (Valles v. COMELEC, En Banc, G.R. No. 137000, 09 August 2000)

1) Foundlings: The Senator Grace Poe Case

a) Considered as natural-born Filipino

Generally accepted principles of international law are based not only on international custom, but also on “general principles of law recognized by civilized nations,” as the phrase is understood in Article 38.1 paragraph (c) of the ICJ Statute. Justice, fairness, equity and the policy against discrimination, which are fundamental principles underlying the Bill of Rights and which are “basic to legal systems generally,” support the notion that the right against enforced disappearances and the recognition of foreign judgments, were correctly considered as “generally accepted principles of international law” under the incorporation clause. (Poe-Llamanzares v. COMELEC, En Banc, G.R. Nos. 221697 and 221698-700, 08 March 2016)

Petitioner’s evidence shows that at least sixty countries in Asia, North and South America, and Europe have passed legislation recognizing foundlings as its citizen. Forty-two (42) of those countries follow the jus sanguinis regime. Of the sixty, only thirty-three (33) are parties to the 1961 Convention on Statelessness; twenty-six (26) are not signatories to the Convention. Also, the Chief Justice, at the 2 February 2016 Oral Arguments pointed out that in 166 out of 189 countries surveyed (or 87.83%), foundlings are recognized as citizens. These circumstances, including the practice of jus sanguinis countries, show that it is a generally accepted principle of international law to presume foundlings as having been born of nationals of the country in which the foundling is found. (Ibid.)

Current legislation reveals the adherence of the Philippines to this generally accepted principle of international law. In particular, R.A. No. 8552, R.A. No. 8042 and this Court’s Rules on Adoption, expressly refer to “Filipino children.” In all of them, foundlings are among the Filipino children who could be adopted. Likewise, it has been pointed that the DFA issues passports to foundlings. Passports are by law, issued only to citizens. This shows that even the executive department, acting through the DFA, considers foundlings as Philippine citizens. (Ibid.)

Adopting these legal principles from the 1930 Hague Convention and the 1961 Convention on Statelessness is rational and reasonable and consistent with the jus sanguinis regime in our Constitution. The presumption of natural-born citizenship of foundlings stems from the presumption that their parents are nationals of the Philippines. As the empirical data provided by the PSA show, that presumption is at more than 99% and is a virtual certainty. (Ibid.)

In sum, all of the international law conventions and instruments on the matter of nationality of foundlings were designed to address the plight of a defenseless class which suffers from a misfortune not of their own making. We cannot be restrictive as to their application if we are a country which calls itself civilized and a member of the community of nations. (Ibid.)

b. Naturalization

No less than the 1987 Constitution enumerates who are Filipino citizens. Among those listed are citizens by naturalization. Naturalization refers to the legal act of adopting an alien and clothing him with the privilege of a native-born citizen. Under the present laws, the process of naturalization can be judicial or administrative. (Republic v. Karbasi, G.R. No. 210412, 29 July 2015)

Judicially, the Naturalization Law provides that after hearing the petition for citizenship and the receipt of evidence showing that the petitioner has all the qualifications and none of the disqualifications required by law, the competent court may order the issuance of the proper naturalization certificate and its registration in the proper civil registry. (Ibid.)

On the other hand, Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9139 provides that aliens born and residing in the Philippines may be granted Philippine citizenship by administrative proceeding by filing a petition for citizenship with the Special Committee, which, in view of the facts before it, may approve the petition and issue a certificate of naturalization. In both cases, the petitioner shall take an oath of allegiance to the Philippines as a sovereign nation. (Ibid.)

1) Qualifications

Subject to rules on special qualifications, any person having the following qualifications may become a citizen of the Philippines by naturalization:

1) He must be not less than twenty-one years of age on the day of the hearing of the petition;

2) He must have resided in the Philippines for a continuous period of not less than ten years;

3) He must be of good moral character and believes in the principles underlying the Philippine Constitution, and must have conducted himself in a proper and irreproachable manner during the entire period of his residence in the Philippines in his relation with the constituted government as well as with the community in which he is living;

4)  He must own real estate in the Philippines worth not less than five thousand pesos, Philippine currency, or must have some known lucrative trade, profession, or lawful occupation;

5) He must be able to speak and write English or Spanish and any one of the principal Philippine languages; and

6)  He must have enrolled his minor children of school age, in any of the public schools or private schools recognized by the Office of Private Education of the Philippines, where the Philippine history, government and civics are taught or prescribed as part of the school curriculum, during the entire period of the residence in the Philippines required of him prior to the hearing of his petition for naturalization as Philippine citizen. (Section 3, C.A. 473, Revised Naturalization Law)

a) Special qualifications

The ten (10) years of continuous residence required shall be understood as reduced to five (5) years for any petitioner having any of the following qualifications:

1) Having honorably held office under the Government of the Philippines or under that of any of the provinces, cities, municipalities, or political subdivisions thereof;

2) Having established a new industry or introduced a useful invention in the Philippines;

3) Being married to a Filipino woman;

4) Having been engaged as a teacher in the Philippines in a public or recognized private school not established for the exclusive instruction of children of persons of a particular nationality or race, in any of the branches of education or industry for a period of not less than two years; and

5)  Having been born in the Philippines. (Section 3, Ibid.)

2) Disqualifications

The following cannot be naturalized as Philippine citizens:

1) Persons opposed to organized government or affiliated with any association or group of persons who uphold and teach doctrines opposing all organized governments;

2) Persons defending or teaching the necessity or propriety of violence, personal assault, or assassination for the success and predominance of their ideas;

3) Polygamists or believers in the practice of polygamy;

4) Persons convicted of crimes involving moral turpitude;

5) Persons suffering from mental alienation or incurable contagious diseases;

6) Persons who, during the period of their residence in the Philippines, have not mingled socially with the Filipinos, or who have not evinced a sincere desire to learn and embrace the customs, traditions, and ideals of the Filipinos;

7) Citizens or subjects of nations with whom the United States and the Philippines are at war, during the period of such war;

8) Citizens or subjects of a foreign country other than the United States whose laws do not grant Filipinos the right to become naturalized citizens or subjects thereof. (Section 4, Ibid.)

3) Requirements and procedure

Any person desiring to acquire Philippine citizenship shall file with the competent court, a petition in triplicate, accompanied by two photographs of the petitioner, setting forth his name and surname; his present and former places of residence; his occupation; the place and date of his birth; whether single or married and the father of children, the name, age, birthplace and residence of the wife and of each of the children; the approximate date of his or her arrival in the Philippines, the name of the port of debarkation, and, if he remembers it, the name of the ship on which he came; a declaration that he has the qualifications required by this Act, specifying the same, and that he is not disqualified for naturalization under the provisions of this Act; that he has complied with the requirements of Sec. five of this Act; and that he will reside continuously in the Philippines from the date of the filing of the petition up to the time of his admission to Philippine citizenship. The petition must be signed by the applicant in his own handwriting and be supported by the affidavit of at least two credible persons, stating that they are citizens of the Philippines and personally know the petitioner to be a resident of the Philippines for the period of time required by this Act and a person of good repute and morally irreproachable, and that said petitioner has in their opinion all the qualifications necessary to become a citizen of the Philippines and is not in any way disqualified under the provisions of this Act. The petition shall also set forth the names and post-office addresses of such witnesses as the petitioner may desire to introduce at the hearing of the case. The certificate of arrival, and the declaration of intention must be made part of the petition. (Section 7, R.A. 473, Revised Naturalization Law)

a) Strict compliance with requirements

An applicant for naturalization must show full and complete compliance with the requirements of the naturalization law; otherwise, his petition for naturalization will be denied. (Republic v. Huang Te Fu, G.R. No. 200983, 18 March 2015)

To repeat, strict compliance with all statutory requirements is necessary before an applicant may acquire Philippine citizenship by naturalization. The absence of even a single requirement is fatal to an application for naturalization. (Ibid.)

It is a well-entrenched rule that Philippine citizenship should not easily be given away. All those seeking to acquire it must prove, to the satisfaction of the Court, that they have complied with all the requirements of the law. The reason for this requirement is simple. Citizenship involves political status; hence, every person must be proud of his citizenship and should cherish it. Naturalization is not a right, but one of privilege of the most discriminating, as well as delicate and exacting nature, affecting, as it does, public interest of the highest order, and which may be enjoyed only under the precise conditions prescribed by law therefor. (Republic v. Karbasi, G.R. No. 210412, 29 July 2015)

b) Proceedings imbued with highest public interest

Naturalization proceedings are imbued with the highest public interest. Naturalization laws should be rigidly enforced and strictly construed in favor of the government and against the applicant. (Republic v. Huang Te Fu, supra.)

c) Burden on proof on applicant

The burden of proof rests upon the applicant to show full and complete compliance with the requirements of law. (Ibid.)

4) Good moral character

Section 2 of the Revised Naturalization Law or CA 473 requires, among others, that an applicant for naturalization must be of good moral character and must have some known lucrative trade, profession, or lawful occupation. (Ibid.)

5) Lucrative trade, profession, lawful occupation

Based on jurisprudence, the qualification of “some known lucrative trade, profession, or lawful occupation” means “not only that the person having the employment gets enough for his ordinary necessities in life.  It must be shown that the employment gives one an income such that there is an appreciable margin of his income over his expenses as to be able to provide for an adequate support in the event of unemployment, sickness, or disability to work and thus avoid one’s becoming the object of charity or a public charge.” His income should permit “him and the members of his family to live with reasonable comfort, in accordance with the prevailing standard of living, and consistently with the demands of human dignity, at this stage of our civilization.” (Ibid.)

Moreover, it has been held that in determining the existence of a lucrative income, the courts should consider only the applicant’s income; his or her spouse’s income should not be included in the assessment.  The spouse’s additional income is immaterial “for under the law the petitioner should be the one to possess ‘some known lucrative trade, profession or lawful occupation’ to qualify him to become a Filipino citizen.” Lastly, the Court has consistently held that the applicant’s qualifications must be determined as of the time of the filing of his petition. (Ibid.)

The economic qualification for naturalization may be seen to embody the objective of ensuring that the petitioner would not become a public charge or an economic burden upon society. The requirement relates, in other words, not simply to the time of execution of the petition for naturalization but also to the probable future of the applicant for naturalization. (Republic v. CA, Chua, En Banc, G.R. No. 77028, 08 November 1988)

In one case, the Court assessed the prevailing circumstances of an applicant for naturalization who was a medical student at the time of the filing of her petition. The Court rejected the Republic’s argument that the applicant’s status as a subsequent passer of the Board Examinations of 1985 for Doctors of Medicine could not by itself be equated with “gainful employment or tangible receipts.” The Court held that this interpretation of the income requirement in the law is “too literal and restrictive.” The public policy underlying the lucrative income requirement is as follows: The Court must be satisfied that there is reasonable assurance not only that the applicant will not be a social burden or liability but that he is a potential asset to the country he seeks to adopt for himself and quite literally, for his children and his children’s children. (Republic v. Karbasi, supra.)

6) Certificate of Arrival

Section 7 of the Revised Naturalization Law or CA 473 requires, among others, that an applicant for naturalization must attach a Certificate of Arrival to the Petition for Naturalization. (Republic v. Huang Te Fu, supra.)

The failure to attach a copy of the applicant’s certificate of arrival to the petition as required by Section 7 of CA 473 is fatal to an applicant’s petition for naturalization. (Ibid.)

Respondent came to the country sometime in 1973; thus, he should have attached a Certificate of Arrival to his Petition for Naturalization.1âwphi1 This is mandatory as respondent must prove that he entered the country legally and not by unlawful means or any other manner that is not sanctioned by law. Because if he entered the country illegally, this would render his stay in the country unwarranted from the start, and no number of years’ stay here will validate his unlawful entry. (Ibid.)

c. Res judicata

1) Citizenship proceedings, suis generis

Cases involving issues on citizenship are sui generis, meaning; they are in a class of their own. Thus, in cases where the citizenship of a person is material or indispensable in a judicial or administrative case and whatever the corresponding court or administrative authority decides therein, citizenship is not considered as res judicata and can be retried again and again. (Go v. Bureau of Immigration, G.R. No. 191810, 22 June 2015)

2) If citizenship is not primary issue, no res judicata

The said judicial declaration was merely an incident to the adjudication of the rights of the parties to the controversy over land ownership. Their citizenship was not the thing adjudicated in the judgment and the declaration that they are Filipinos was but a necessary premise for the court to arrive at a conclusion that the sale of the realty was valid as between the parties. Not being the thing directly adjudicated, their declared citizenship is not res judicata, and cannot become conclusive. (In Re: Florencio Mallare, En Banc, A.M. No. 533, 29 April 1968)

3) Res judicata if citizenship is primary issue

Res judicata may only be applied in cases of citizenship when the following concur:

1) A person’s citizenship must be raised as a material issue in a controversy where said person is a party;

2) The Solicitor General or his authorized representative took active part in the resolution thereof; and

3) The finding or citizenship is affirmed by this Court. (Go v. Bureau of Immigration, supra.)

NB: This form of re judicata pertains to the application for naturalization. It does not cover petitions for cancellation as discussed hereunder.

4) Res judicata, not a defense against petition for cancellation

The judgment directing the issuance of a certificate of citizenship in naturalization proceedings is a mere grant of a political privilege conferred by the government upon the petitioning alien. It is subjected to the right of the government to ask for the cancellation of such certificate if found to have been illegally or fraudulently procured. Neither estoppel nor res judicata may be set up to bar the State from instituting appropriate proceedings directed at striking down a certificate of citizenship so issued. (Republic v. Reyes, En Banc, G.R. No. L-22550, 19 May 1966)

A decision or order granting citizenship to the applicant does not really become executory and a naturalization proceeding not being a judicial adversary proceeding, the decision rendered therein is no res judicata as to any of the reasons or matters which would support a judgment cancelling the certificate of naturalization for illegal or fraudulent procurement. As a matter of fact, it is settled in this jurisdiction that a certificate of naturalization may be cancelled upon grounds or conditions subsequent to the granting of the certificate o naturalization. (Republic v. Go Bon Lee, G.R. No. L-11499, 29 April 1961)

d. Jus Soli

1) Pre-1935 Constitution: Organic Laws

Before the 1935 Constitution, what served as the Constitution of the Philippines were the principal organic acts by which the United States governed the country. These were the Philippine Bill of July 1, 1902 and the Philippine Autonomy Act of August 29, 1916, also known as the Jones Law. (Valles v. COMELEC, En Banc, G.R. No. 137000, 09 August 2000)

Among others, these laws defined who were deemed to be citizens of the Philippine islands. The Philippine Bill of 1902 defined Philippine citizens as: SEC. 4… all inhabitants of the Philippine Islands continuing to reside therein who were Spanish subjects on the eleventh day of April, eighteen hundred and ninety-nine, and then resided in the Philippine Islands, and their children born subsequent thereto, shall be deemed and held to be citizens of the Philippine Islands and as such entitled to the protection of the United States, except such as shall have elected to preserve their allegiance to the Crown of Spain in accordance with the provisions of the treaty of peace between the United States and Spain signed at Paris December tenth, eighteen hundred and ninety-eight. (Ibid.)

The Jones Law, on the other hand, provides: SEC. 2 That all inhabitants of the Philippine Islands who were Spanish subjects on the eleventh day of April, eighteen hundred and ninety-nine, and then resided in said Islands, and their children born subsequent thereto, shall be deemed and held to be citizens of the Philippine Islands, except such as shall have elected to preserve their allegiance to the Crown of Spain in accordance with the provisions of the treaty of peace between the United States and Spain, signed at Paris December tenth, eighteen hundred and ninety-eight, and except such others as have since become citizens of some other country: Provided, That the Philippine Legislature, herein provided for, is hereby authorized to provide by law for the acquisition of Philippine citizenship by those natives of the Philippine Islands who cannot come within the foregoing provisions, the natives of the insular possessions of the United States, and such other persons residing in the Philippine Islands who are citizens of the United States, or who could become citizens of the United States under the laws of the United States if residing therein. (Ibid.)

Under both organic acts, all inhabitants of the Philippines who were Spanish subjects on April 11, 1899 and resided therein including their children are deemed to be Philippine citizens. (Ibid.)

2) 1935 Constitution

The signing into law of the 1935 Philippine Constitution has established the principle of jus sanguinis as basis for the acquisition of Philippine citizenship. (Ibid.)

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