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E. Modes of losing and reacquiring citizenship

1. LOSING CITIZENSHIP

Philippine citizenship may be lost or reacquired in the manner provided by law. (Section 3, Article II, 1987 Constitution)

When a person loses citizenship, therefore, the State sees to it that its reacquisition may only be granted if the former citizen fully satisfies all conditions and complies with the applicable law. Without doubt, repatriation is not to be granted simply based on the vagaries of the former Filipino citizen. (Tabasa v. CA, G.R. No. 125793, 29 August 2006)

a. Renunciation

Renunciation or the relinquishment of one’s citizenship requires a voluntary act for it to produce any legal effect. This willingness to disassociate from a political community is manifested by swearing to an oath. If we were to consider the words in the Oath of Allegiance as meaningless, the process laid out under the law to effect naturalization would be irrelevant and useless. Thus, to give effect to the legal implications of taking an Oath of Allegiance, we must honor the meaning of the words which the person declaring the oath has sworn to freely, without mental reservation or purpose of evasion. (Tan v. Crisologo, G.R. No. 193993, 08 November 2017)

NB: Once Filipinos renounce their citizenship to be naturalized in a foreign country, they lose and do not retain their Filipino citizenship, per Tan v. Crisologo.

1) Express renunciation, required

In order that citizenship may be lost by renunciation, such renunciation must be express. (Valles v. COMELEC, En Banc, G.R. No. 137000, 09 August 2000)

All Philippine citizens who become citizens of another country shall be deemed not to have lost their Philippine citizenship under the conditions laid out by the law. (Tan v. Crisologo, G.R. No. 193993, 08 November 2017)

2) No express renunciation

a) Application for alien certificate of registration

b) Holding of foreign passport

An application for an alien certificate of registration does not amount to an express renunciation or repudiation of one’s citizenship. (Valles v. COMELEC, supra.)

The application for an alien certificate of registration and holding of a foreign passport are mere acts of assertion of one’s foreign citizenship before a person effectively renounced the same. Thus, at the most, he had dual citizenship. (Ibid.)

Case Law

1) In Aznar v. COMELEC, the mere fact that respondent Osmena was a holder of a certificate stating that he is an American did not mean that he is no longer a Filipino, and that an application for an alien certificate of registration was not tantamount to renunciation of his Philippine citizenship. (Ibid.)

2) In Mercado vs. Manzano and COMELEC, the fact that respondent Manzano was registered as an American citizen in the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation and was holding an American passport on April 22, 1997, only a year before he filed a certificate of candidacy for vice-mayor of Makati, were just assertions of his American nationality before the termination of his American citizenship. (Ibid.)

3) In Valles v. COMELEC, the mere fact that private respondent Rosalind Ybasco Lopez was a holder of an Australian passport and had an alien certificate of registration are not acts constituting an effective renunciation of citizenship and do not militate against her claim of Filipino citizenship. For renunciation to effectively result in the loss of citizenship, the same must be express. (Ibid.)

c) Children of Filipinos born in another country

Under Commonwealth Act 63, the fact that a child of Filipino parent/s was born in another country has not been included as a ground for losing one’s Philippine citizenship. (Ibid.)

2. REACQUISITION OF CITIZENSHIP

R.A. No. 9225 was enacted to allow natural-born Filipino citizens, who lost their Philippine citizenship through naturalization in a foreign country, to expeditiously reacquire Philippine citizenship. Under the procedure currently in place under R.A. No. 9225, the reacquisition of Philippine citizenship requires only the taking of an oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines. (Tan v. Crisologo, G.R. No. 193993, 08 November 2017)

a. Naturalization in a foreign country

Once Philippine citizenship is renounced because of naturalization in a foreign country, we cannot consider one a Filipino citizen unless and until his or her allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines is reaffirmed. Simply stated, right after a Filipino renounces allegiance to our country, he or she is to be considered a foreigner. (Ibid.)

1) Considered a foreigner from renunciation until reacquisition

To consider that the reacquisition of Philippine citizenship retroacts to the date it was lost would result in an absurd scenario where a Filipino would still be considered a Philippine citizen when in fact he had already renounced his citizenship. (Ibid.)

3. REPATRIATION UNDER R.A. 8171

Repatriation is not a matter of right, but it is a privilege granted by the State. This is mandated by the 1987 Constitution under Section 3, Article IV, which provides that citizenship may be lost or reacquired in the manner provided by law. The State has the power to prescribe by law the qualifications, procedure, and requirements for repatriation. It has the power to determine if an applicant for repatriation meets the requirements of the law for it is an inherent power of the State to choose who will be its citizens, and who can reacquire citizenship once it is lost. (Tabasa v. CA, G.R. No. 125793, 29 August 2006)

a. Who are qualified

The only persons entitled to repatriation under RA 8171 are the following:

a) Filipino women who lost their Philippine citizenship by marriage to aliens; and,

b) Natural-born Filipinos including their minor children who lost their Philippine citizenship on account of political or economic necessity. (Ibid.)

The privilege of repatriation under RA 8171 is available only to natural-born Filipinos who lost their citizenship on account of political or economic necessity, and to the minor children of said natural-born Filipinos. This means that if a parent who had renounced his Philippine citizenship due to political or economic reasons later decides to repatriate under RA 8171, his repatriation will also benefit his minor children according to the law. This includes a situation where a former Filipino subsequently had children while he was a naturalized citizen of a foreign country. (Ibid.)

The repatriation of the former Filipino will allow him to recover his natural-born citizenship and automatically vest Philippine citizenship on his children of jus sanguinis or blood relationship: the children acquire the citizenship of their parents who are natural-born Filipinos. To claim the benefit of RA 8171, however, the children must be of minor age at the time the petition for repatriation is filed by the parent. This is so because a child does not have the legal capacity for all acts of civil life much less the capacity to undertake a political act like the election of citizenship. On their own, the minor children cannot apply for repatriation or naturalization separately from their parents. (Tabasa v. CA, G.R. No. 125793, 29 August 2006)

b. Procedure

The applicant has to file his petition for repatriation with the Special Committee on Naturalization (SCN), which was designated to process petitions for repatriation pursuant to Administrative Order No. 285 (A.O. No. 285) dated August 22, 1996. (Ibid.)

In the Amended Rules and Regulations Implementing RA 8171 issued by the SCN on August 5, 1999, applicants for repatriation are required to submit documents in support of their petition such as their birth certificate and other evidence proving their claim to Filipino citizenship. 19 These requirements were imposed to enable the SCN to verify the qualifications of the applicant particularly in light of the reasons for the renunciation of Philippine citizenship. (Ibid.)

c. Requirements

The applicant has to prove that his parents relinquished their Philippine citizenship on account of political or economic necessity as provided for in the law. Nowhere in his affidavit of repatriation did he mention that his parents lost their Philippine citizenship on account of political or economic reasons. It is notable that under the Amended Rules and Regulations Implementing RA 8171, the SCN requires a petitioner for repatriation to set forth, among others, “the reason/s why petitioner lost his/her Filipino citizenship, whether by marriage in case of Filipino woman, or whether by political or economic necessity in case of [a] natural-born Filipino citizen who lost his/her Filipino citizenship. In case of the latter, such political or economic necessity should be specified.” (Ibid.)

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