(Article published in the Sep 1,2003 issue of TODAY, Business Section)
I was a boy,” sings the King of Siam, “what was so was so and what was
not was not”. So it was
when we were taking up law under such revered mentors of political law as
Court of Appeals Justice Jesus Y. Perez and Supreme Court Justice Conrado
was “the main integrate element” of citizenship (Tan Chong v. Sec. of
Labor, 79 Phil 257). Thus, traditional wisdom dictated that “dual
nationality is universally recognized as an undesirable phenomenon.
It inevitably results in questionable loyalties and leads to
international conflicts. Dual
nationality also makes possible the use of citizenship as badge of
convenience rather than of undivided loyalty.
And it impairs the singleness of commitment which is the hallmark
of citizenship and allegiance.” (Gordon and Rosenfield, Immigration
Law and Procedure, v. 4, Nationality, pp.11-12)
“singleness of commitment” among us Filipinos will undoubtedly be
subjected to a stress test with the signing of the “Citizenship
Retention and Re-Acquisition Act of 2003 by President Arroyo.”
Citizenship Retention and Re-Acquisition Act of 2003, in essence, repeals
an old rule in a 1936 law which provides that a Filipino citizen loses his
citizenship by naturalization in a foreign country (Sec. 1(1), C.A. No.
63). Instead the new policy
of the state is that all Philipine citizens who become citizens of another
country shall be deemed not to have lost their Philippine citizenship
provided they fulfill the conditions set forth in the law.
conditions are not at all hard to meet.
Section 3 permits a natural-born citizen of the Philippines who has
lost his or her Philippine citizenship by reason of naturalization as a
citizen of a foreign country to be deemed to have reacquired Philippine
citizenship by simply taking the prescribed oath of allegiance to the
Republic, without the need to add the modifier “Strong” to
oath (or affirmation) contains three simple commitments.
First and third are standard.
The former commits the affiant to support and defend the
Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines and obey the laws and
legal orders promulgated by the duly constituted authorities in the
Philippines; latter states that affiant is imposing the obligation upon
himself or herself voluntarily and without mental reservation or purpose
commitment between the first and the third is legal artistry (if that term
is not an oxymoron). Affiant
declares that he or she recognizes and accepts the supreme authority of
the Philippines and will maintain true faith and allegiance thereto. The
stroke of genius of whoever crafted the form of the oath is, in my view,
the use of the phrase “supreme authority”.
our present Constitution, “dual allegiance of citizen is inimical to the
national interest and shall be dealt with by law” (Sec. 5, Art. IV, 1987
Const.) If I my guess is
correct, the use of the “supreme authority” in the prescribed oath was
a deliberate choice. Most
countries require an oath of allegiance from those who wish to be their
not many states (I know not of one) require that they be recognized as
“supreme authority” simply because a state is, in all jurisdictions,
understood to be sovereign, i.e. the supreme ruler or authority, within
its own territory.
a natural-born Filipino who takes an oath of allegiance to another
country, upon naturalization in a country which did not bother to be
recognized in that oath as “the supreme authority”, will have no
problem taking the required oath to retain or reacquire Philippine
citizenship, because the two oaths of allegiance can stand together.
The oath of allegiance to the Philippines does not result in the
“dual allegiance” proscribed by the Constitution because the dual
citizen, pledges to only one supreme authority and that is the Republic of
far as the Philippines is concerned, to be acknowledged as the number one
is enough. Since the other
country did not, in its oath, require to be considered as supreme, that
country is, in the eyes of the Republic of the Philippines, only the
number two, or, in current cell phone text lingo, number two.
other country, on the other hand, is not bothered by its naturalized
citizen taking the prescribed oath because the Philippines is clearly,
under International Law, the “supreme authority” only within its own
jurisdiction. To that
country, the naturalized citizen is swearing allegiance to the Philippines
as “supreme authority” only within the Philippines and not within its
territory. Hence, it does not
take away anything from the allegiance that its naturalized citizen has
pledged to it. Within that
country’s territory, it is the “supreme authority” and that was
understood, even if not said, in the oath taken by the naturalized
dual citizen thus is not guilty of mental reservation or of being
purposely evasive. He was simply exhibiting, thanks to our legislators and the
approving president, abilidad.
benefits flow from the taking of the prescribed oath.
The dual citizen’s unmarried children, below eighteen (18) are
deemed citizens of the Philippines. In
general, the dual citizen himself or herself begins to enjoy full civil
and political rights and become subject to all attendant liabilities and
responsibilities of Philippine citizenship.
if he or she wants to vote, and is residing abroad, the requirements of
the Constitution and the Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003 must be
complied with. If election to
a public office is sought, the dual citizen-candidate must make a personal
and sworn renunciation of any and all foreign citizenship.
If appointed to a public office, renunciation of the oath
allegiance to the other country is required.
And those who wish to practice their profession in the Philippines
must make the necessary application for the relevant license or permit.
the right to vote or be voted for or be appointed to a pubic office cannot
be exercised by those who (a) are candidates for or occupying a public
office or (b) are in the armed forces of the country of which the country
where they are naturalized citizens.
The law, we are told, is expected to encourage Filipinos who have become naturalized citizens of other countries to come back home and pump in investments in land, in commerce and in industry, share the skills and technology they acquired elsewhere with their countrymen, and, as modern heroes, rescue the country from the mire it is presently in.