Naturalization not applicable to dual citizens by birth—SC

The  Supreme Court has held that Filipinos born to one Filipino parent and one foreign parent are considered dual citizens by birth and not by naturalization, regardless of subsequent acts performed to confirm the foreign citizenship.

In the decision penned by Justice Ricardo R. Rosario, the SC en banc granted the Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition filed by Mariz Lindsey Tan Villegas Gana-Carait, and annulled and set aside the Commission on Elections  (Comelec)  En  Banc  Resolution dated 23 September 2021 that denied  Gana-Carait’s motion for reconsideration of the Comelec First  Division’s Resolution dated February 27, 2019.

The resolutions of the poll body denied the petition to disqualify  Gana-Carait as a candidate for the Sangguniang Panlungsod of the lone district of  Biñan, Laguna in the May 2019 elections, but granted the petition to deny due course to or cancel her certificate of candidacy (CoC).

Gana-Carait filed her CoC for the May 2019 national and local elections on 17 October 2018. Two petitions were then filed before the Comelec against her: for her disqualification on grounds that she failed to renounce her United States citizenship;  and for the cancellation of her COC, for alleged false representation of her eligibility to run for office given her American citizenship.

The Comelec First  Division resolved  the  consolidated  cases  in its  17 February 2019  resolution, dismissing the petition for disqualification but granting the petition for cancellation of Gana-Carait’s COC. The division said Gana-Carat was a dual citizen by naturalization because of positive acts subsequently performed by her mother to secure a Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United  States of America and a US passport for Gana-Carait.

Thus, the Comelec held that Gana-Carait must comply with RA No. 9225, or the Citizenship Retention and  Re-acquisition  Act,  which requires  candidates who are dual  citizens by naturalization to take an oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines and to renounce their foreign citizenship.

Gana-Carait moved to reconsider the ruling but was denied  by the Comelec en banc, prompting  her to  go to the Supreme Court.

In  ruling to set aside the Comelec’s cancellation  of Gana-Carait’s COC, the SC held that Gana-Carait, who was born to a Filipino father and an American mother, is a dual citizen by birth and not by naturalization.

According to the high court, the subsequent positive acts made by Gana-Carait’s mother to request confirmation from the United States Consular Service of  Gana-Carait’s US citizenship is not considered a naturalization process, but a mere presentation of documentary evidence to establish the fact that Gana-Carait is an American citizen by birth.

Thus, since Gana-Carait is a dual citizen by birth and not by naturalization, she is not covered by the provisions of the Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act requiring candidates who are dual citizens by naturalization to take an oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines and to renounce their foreign citizenship in order to  become eligible for elective office.

As a dual citizen by birth, Gana-Carait is thus considered a Filipino qualified to run for public office.

 

 


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