Repatriation under Rule 8171.

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.

Petitioner theorizes that he could be repatriated under RA 8171 because he is a child of a natural-born Filipino, and that he lost his Philippine citizenship by derivative naturalization when he was still a minor.

Petitioner overlooks the fact that 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. 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 parent(s) who are natural-born Filipinos. To claim the benefit of RA 8171, however, the children must be 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 vs. CA, et al., G.R. No. 125793, August 29, 2006).

If a person, petitioner is not qualified to avail himself of repatriation under RA 8171. However, he can possibly reacquire Philippine citizenship by availing of the Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003 (Republic Act No. 9225) by simply taking an oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines. (Tabasa vs. CA, et al., G.R. No. 125793, August 29, 2006).

Limited coverage of the law.

A reading in Section 1 of RA 8171 shows that the manifest intent of the legislature to limit the benefit of repatriation only to natural-born Filipinos who lost their Philippine citizenship on account of political or economic necessity, in addition women who lost their Philippine citizenship by marriage to aliens. The precursor of RA 8171, Presidential Decree No. 725 (P.D. 725), which was enacted on June 5, 1975 amending Commonwealth Act No. 63, also gave to the same groups of former Filipinos the opportunity to repatriate but without the limiting phrase, “on account of political or economic necessity” in relation to natural-born Filipinos. By adding the said phrase to RA 8171, the lawmakers clearly intended to limit the application of the law only to political or economic migrants, aside from the Filipino women who lost their citizenship by marriage to aliens. This intention is more evident in the sponsorship speech of Rep. Andrea B. Domingo where she stated that there are only four types of Filipinos who leave the country.

The first is what we call the “economic refugees” who go abroad to work because there is no work to be found in the country. Then we have the “political refugees” who leave the country for fear of their lives because they are not in consonance with the prevailing policy of government. The third type are those who have committed crimes and would like to escape from the punishment of said crimes. Lastly, we have those Filipinos who feel that they are not Filipinos, thereby seeking other citizenship elsewhere.

Of these four types of Filipinos, the first two have to leave the country not of choice, but rather of sacrifice to look for a better life, as well as for a safer abode for themselves and their families. It is for these two types of Filipinos that this measure is being proposed for approval by this body.

Thus, the intent of the law is to exclude those Filipinos who have abandoned their country for reasons other than political or economic necessity. (Tabasa vs. CA, et al., G.R. No. 125793, August 2006).

Effect if foreign country cancels the passport of an alien.

If a foreign embassy cancels the passport of the alien, or does not reissue a valid passport to him, the alien loses the privilege to remain in the country, under the Immigration Act, Section 10 and 15 (Schonemann vs. Santiago, et al., G.R. No. 81461, 30 May 1989). The automatic loss of the privilege obviates deportation proceedings. In such instance, the Board of Commissioners may issue summary judgment of deportation which shall be immediately executory.

Right to vote of dual citizens.

There is no provision in the dual citizenship law – R.A. 9225 – requiring “duals” to actually establish residence and physically stay in the Philippines first before they can exercise their right to vote. On the contrary, R.A. 9225, in implicit acknowledgment that “duals” are most likely non-residents, grants under its Section 5(1) the same right of suffrage as that granted an absentee voter under R.A. 9189. It cannot be overemphasized that R.A. 9189 aims, in essence, to enfranchise as much as possible all overseas Filipinos who, save for the residency requirements exacted of an ordinary citizen, are qualified to vote. Thus, it was ruled in Macalintal vs. COMELEC, 405 SCRA 614:

“It is clear from these discussions of the Constitutional Commission that it intended to enfranchise as much as possible all Filipino citizens abroad who have not abandoned their domicile of origin. The Commission even intended to extend to young Filipinos who reach voting age abroad whose parents’ domicile of origin is in the Philippines, and consider them qualified as voters for the first time.

It is in pursuance of that intention that the Commission provided for Section 2, Article V, immediately after the residency requirement of Section 1. By the doctrine of necessary implication in statutory construction, …., the strategic location of Section 2 indicates that the Constitutional Commission provided for an exception to qualified Filipinos who are not in the Philippines may be allowed to vote even though they do not satisfy the residency requirement in Section 1, Article V of the Constitution.

That Section 2 of Article V of the Constitution is an exception to the residency requirement found in Section 1 of the same Article was in fact the subject of debate when Senate Bill No. 2104, which became R.A. No. 9189.

Considering the unison intent of the Constitution and RA 9189 and the expansion of the scope of that law with the passage of RA 9225, the irresistible conclusion is that “duals” may now exercise the right of suffrage thru the absentee voting scheme and as overseas absentee voters. RA 9189 defines the terms adverted to in the following wise:

“Absentee Voting” refers to the process by which qualified citizens of the Philippines abroad exercise their right to vote;

“Overseas Absentee Voter” refers to a citizen of the Philippines who is qualified to register and vote under this Act, not otherwise disqualified by law, who is abroad on the day of elections. (Loida Nicolas-Lewis, et al. vs. COMELEC, G.R. 162759, August 4, 2006).

Rule cover the next generation of duals.

The expanded thrust of RA 9189 extends also to what might be tagged as the next generation of “duals”. This may be deduced from the inclusion of the provision on derivative citizenship in RA 9225 which reads:

Sec. 4. Derivative Citizenship. – The unmarried child, whether legitimate, illegitimate or adopted, below eighteen (18) years of age, of those who re-acquire Philippine citizenship upon effectivity of this Act shall be deemed citizens of the Philippines. (Loida Nicolas-Lewis, et al. vs. COMELEC, G.R. No. 162759, August 4, 2006).

Q — What is naturalization? Give the modes of becoming a citizen by naturalization.

ANS: Naturalization signifies the act of formally adopting a foreigner into the political body of a nation by clothing him or her with the privileges of a citizen. Under current and existing laws, there are three ways by which an alien may become a citizen by naturalization: (a) administrative naturalization pursuant to R.A. No. 9139; (b) judicial naturalization pursuant to C.A. No. 473, as amended; and (c) legislative naturalization in the form of a law enacted by Congress bestowing Philippine citizenship to an alien.(So v. Rep., G.R. No. 170603, January 29, 2007).

Q  —  In a petition for naturalization, it was contended that the qualifications of an applicant for naturalization should possess those provided for in R.A. No. 9139 and not those set forth in C.A. No. 473. Is the contention correct? Why?

ANS:   No. The qualifications and disqualifications of an applicant for naturalization by judicial act are set forth in Sections 2 and 4 of C.A. No. 473. On the other hand, Sections 3 and 4 of R.A. No. 9139 provide for the qualifications and disqualifications of an applicant for naturalization by administrative act. (So v. Rep., G.R. No. 170603, January 29, 2007).

Q  —  State the rationale for the enactment of RA 9139 otherwise known as Administrative Naturalization Law.

ANS:   R.A. No. 9139 was enacted as a remedial measure intended to make the process of acquiring Philippine citizenship less tedious, less technical and more encouraging. It likewise addresses the concerns of degree holders who, by reason of lack of citizenship requirement, cannot practice their profession, thus promoting “brain drain” for the Philippines. (So v. Rep., G.R. No. 170603, January 29, 2007).

Q —    Are the qualifications prescribed under Act No. 473 applicable to RA 9139? Explain.

ANS:   No. First. C.A. No. 473 and R.A. No. 9139 are separate and distinct laws – the former covers all aliens regardless of class while the latter covers native-born aliens who lived here in the Philippines all their lives, who never saw any other country and all along thought that they were Filipinos; who have demonstrated love and loyalty to the Philippines and affinity to the customs and traditions. To reiterate, the intention of the legislature in enacting R.A. No. 9139 was to make the process of acquiring Philippine citizenship less tedious, less technical and more encouraging which is administrative rather than judicial in nature. Thus, although the legislature believes that there is a need to liberalize the naturalization law of the Philippines, there is nothing from which it can be inferred that C.A. No. 473 was intended to be amended or repealed by R.A. No. 9139. What the legislature had in mind was merely to prescribed another mode of acquiring Philippine citizenship which may be availed of by native born aliens. The only implication is that, a native born alien has the choice to apply for judicial or administrative naturalization, subject to the prescribed qualifications and disqualifications.

Second, if the qualifications prescribed in R.A. No. 9139 would be made applicable even to judicial naturalization, the coverage of the law would be broadened since it would then apply even to aliens who are not native born. It must be stressed that R.A. No. 9139 applies only to aliens who were born in the Philippines and have been residing here.

Third, applying the provisions of R.A. No. 9139 to judicial naturalization is contrary to the intention of the legislature to liberalize the naturalization procedure in the country. One of the qualifications set forth in R.A. No. 9139 is that the applicant was born in the Philippines and should have been residing herein since birth. Thus, one who was born here but left the country, though resided for more than ten (10) years from the filing of the application is also disqualified. On the other hand, if we maintain the distinct qualifications under each of the two laws, an alien who is not qualified under R.A. No. 9139 may still be naturalized under C.A. No. 473.

Thus, absent a specific provision expressly amending C.A. No. 473, the law stands and the qualifications and disqualifications set forth therein are maintained. (So v. Rep., G.R. No. 170603, January 29, 2007).

Q —    State the basic requirement of witnesses in a naturalization proceeding. Explain.

ANS:   The witnesses presented should be competent to vouch for his good moral character, and are themselves possessed of good moral character. The character witnesses in naturalization proceedings stand as insurers of the applicant’s conduct and character. Thus, they ought to testify on specific facts and events justifying the inference that the applicant possesses all the qualifications and none of the disqualifications provided by law. (So v. Rep., G.R. No. 170603, January 29, 2007, citing Rep. v. Hong, G.R. No. 168877, March 24, 2006, 485 SCRA 405).

Q — State the duty of an applicant for naturalization before he can be naturalized. Explain.

ANS:   In naturalization proceedings, it is the burden of the applicant to prove not only his own good moral character but also the good moral character of his/her witnesses, who must be credible persons. Within the purview of the naturalization law, a “credible person” is not only an individual who has not been previously convicted of a crime; who is not a police character and has no police record; who has not perjured in the past; or whose affidavit or testimony is not credible. What must be credible is not the declaration made but the person making it. This implies that such person must have a good standing in the community; that he is known to be honest and upright; that he is reputed to be trustworthy and reliable; and that his word may be taken on its face value; as a good warranty of the applicant’s worthiness. (So v. Rep., G.R. No. 170603, January 29, 2007).

Q —    In naturalization proceedings, may the State appeal the decision even if it did not oppose the petition? Explain.

ANS:   Yes. A naturalization proceeding is not a judicial adversary proceeding, and the decision rendered therein does not constitute res judicata. A certificate of naturalization may be cancelled if it is subsequently discovered that the applicant obtained it by misleading the court upon any material fact. Law and jurisprudence even authorize the cancellation of a certificate of naturalization upon grounds or conditions arising subsequent to the granting of the certificate. If the government can challenge a final grant of citizenship, with more reason can it appeal the decision of the RTC within the reglementary period despite its failure to oppose the petition before the lower court. (So v. Rep., G.R. No. 170603, January 29, 2007).


It must be stressed that admission to citizenship is one of the highest privileges that the Republic of the Philippines can confer upon an alien. It is a privilege that should not be conferred except upon persons fully qualified for it, and upon strict compliance with the law.

Q — Who has the burden to show that a person is entitled to be naturalized? Explain.

ANS: It is well-settled rule that “it is the bounded and inescapable duty of anyone applying for naturalization to carry at all times the burden of proving his right thereto, not only by complying with all the substantive and procedural requirements and submitting proof thereof at the trial. (Tiu v. Rep., 158 Phil. 1137 (1974); In Re: Petition for Admission as Citizen of the Phils., Shewak A. Keswani, et al. v. Rep., G.R. No. 153986, June 8, 2007).