Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Children of Americans can still become Filipino citizens

Dear PAO,
My brother-in-law is 27 years old but he has lived here in the Philippines for more than ten years now. He has been telling us that he wants to be considered as a Filipino and we have already told him that, as far as we know, he cannot be considered one because both his parents are pure-blooded Americans. We can see how passionate he is about becoming a Filipino that is why we would like to seek your advice if there is a possibility for him to still become a Filipino. I hope you can respond soon. Thank you and more power.
Dear Maye,
Considering that your brother-in-law is now 27 years old, it is safe to say the 1987 Philippine Constitution is applicable to his concern. Under Section 1, Article IV, of the law, only the following are citizens of the Philippines: (1) Those who are citizens of the Philippines at the time of the adoption of the Constitution; (2) Those whose fathers or mothers are citizens of the Philippines; (3) Those born before January 17, 1973 of Filipino mothers, who elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority; and (4) Those who are naturalized in accordance with law. Given that neither of his parents is a Filipino citizen, it may be said your brother-in-law may not be considered as a natural-born Filipino citizen.
Nevertheless, he may become a Filipino citizen through the process of naturalization. He may opt to file a petition for judicial naturalization before the Regional Trial Court (formerly the Court of First Instance) of the place or province where he has resided at least one year immediately preceding its filing (Section 8, Commonwealth Act 473). It is nevertheless vital for your brother-in-law to establish that he possesses the following qualifications: (1) he is at least 21 years of age; (2) he has resided in the Philippines for at least 10 years, which may be reduced to five years if he can establish that he is married to a Filipino woman; (3) he is of good moral character, believes in the Constitution and has conducted himself in an irreproachable manner during his stay in the Philippines; (4) he owns real estate in the Philippines worth not less than five thousand pesos, Philippine currency, or must have some known lucrative trade, profession or lawful occupation; (5) he is able to speak and write in Filipino or English and a principal Philippine dialect; and (6) if he has minor children of school age, he must have enroled them in any of the public schools or private schools recognized by the Department of Education where Philippine history, government and civics are taught or prescribed as part of the school curriculum (Section 2 in relation to Section 3, Ibid).
It is also essential for your brother-in-law not to possess any of the disqualifications: (a) being opposed to organized government or affiliated with any association or group of persons who uphold and teach doctrines opposing all organized governments; (b) defending or teaching the necessity or propriety of violence, personal assault or assassination for the success and predominance of their ideas; (c) being a polygamist or believing in the practice of polygamy; (d) conviction for crimes involving moral turpitude; (e) suffering from mental alienation or incurable contagious diseases; and (f) during the period of his residence in the Philippines, he has not mingled socially with Filipinos, or has not evinced a sincere desire to learn and embrace the customs, traditions and ideals of the Filipinos (Section 4, Id.).
We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to

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