The right of Filipino citizenship

BY

HOTSPOT

12 points on the Omicron surge 

One important lesson I learned in Araling Panlipunan is Filipino citizenship. It is not about being born in the Philippines. Our citizenship is acquired by blood.

It means that one may be born elsewhere outside of the Philippines, but if at least one of the parents is Filipino, an infant automatically acquires Filipino citizenship.

As beautifully stated in one of the political tracts I once read, our Filipino citizenship passes on by blood in perpetuity.

We share similar “jus sanguinis” (right by blood) citizenship rules with most other Asian, African and European countries.

The other type of citizenship acquisition is “jus soli” (right of the soil), where citizenship is based on the place of birth.

We are most familiar with the example of the United States where all children born in any of the 50 states are considered US citizens, whether the parents are US citizens, permanent residents, or undocumented persons.

I’m sure we know friends or even relatives who were born in the US and thus were natural born US citizens and carry US passports. Depending on circumstance, they could also claim Filipino citizenship and apply for a Philippine passport. The particular circumstance is that one of their parents was still a Filipino citizen on their birthday.

Their parents, who may have become naturalized US citizens can apply to reacquire Filipino citizenship under our 1995 dual citizenship law. Same could be done by other former Filipinos who are now citizens of other countries. The Filipino bloodline simply cannot be completely lost.

The raging issues surrounding the mayor of Bamban town in Tarlac show the importance of citizenship and our allegiance to our country.

The rights to vote and to be voted for positions in government are exclusive to Filipino citizens only. Officials, especially those elected to positions, swear an oath to the Philippines and to the Constitution. In good times and especially in bad times, it is important to have Filipino leaders serving faithfully the cause of the Philippines.

By the way, ownership of Philippine land is also reserved exclusively to Filipino citizens.

I believe the concept is that the “Philippines is for Filipinos, and Filipinos are for the Philippines,” and most countries hold a similar principle. We do not begrudge governments and peoples of other countries giving preference and protection to their own citizens and national interests.

Senator Risa Hontiveros has done a great job investigating the Bamban mayor. She has presented sensational pieces of evidence and have asked tough questions which the mayor should honestly answer. She owes the people of Bamban and the rest of the country such answers.

How things would pan out is everyone’s guess.

Hontiveros and other senators, the Commission on Elections, the Bureau of Immigration, the local civil registrars and other agencies might be able to find positive evidence of Chinese or non-Filipino citizenship. Consequently, it could lead to the mayor’s removal from office, prosecution, and deportation.

The mayor meanwhile might present incontrovertible proof of her Filipino parentage, to address the fears and concerns of senators and the public. While I don’t think she’s legally obliged to do that, and considering that the public documents are deemed above-board until there’s a finding of a mistake, error or malicious fabrication, it does not help that she’s not being forthright with senators.

Regardless of the outcome of the mayor’s case, the delayed birth registration procedure — which was put in place to accommodate especially the people in far-flung areas, should be protected from abuse and misuse.

We cannot allow it to be taken advantage of by foreign citizens to sneakily acquire Filipino citizenship. Perhaps, additional requirements like sworn affidavits of support from several Filipino witnesses, should accompany applications for late birth registration. Hospitals, birthing clinics, midwives and barangays could be mobilized to help document and report new births of new Filipino citizens.

The uptick of interest in Filipino citizenship — in the face of challenges and crisis as Filipinos or living in the Philippines — betray a nagging concern for our country. It is a good, welcome thing. Citizenship is a right, gift and treasure worthy of our concern and protection.