To cite this online book, please use the following:

Dela Peña. 2023. "Principles and Cases in Private International Law: A Procedural Approach." Published by Project Jurisprudence - Philippines. Published: September 17, 2023. Link: [Insert link] Last accessed: [Insert date of access].





The following are citizens of the Philippines: those who are citizens of the Philippines at the time of the adoption of this Constitution; those whose fathers or mothers are citizens of the Philippines; those born before January 17, 1973, of Filipino mothers, who elect Philippine Citizenship upon reaching the age of majority; and those who are naturalized in the accordance with law.[1]


It is the law of the state that determines its own citizens. Logically, then, it is Philippine law that determines to whom Philippine citizenship attaches.


Provisionally, however, a foreign forum may determine the citizenship of a party in accordance with his/her national law, if relevant to the issues surrounding the dispute, but this determination cannot bind the state in question. For example, if the issue of citizenship is relevant to a dispute that reached a Philippine court, that court may pass upon the issue of whether the party in question is a Chinese citizen. The analysis starts from the law of the forum which states that a person’s status, condition and legal capacity is determined by his/her national law. The Philipine forum then proceeds to look into the law of China, if properly pleaded and proved, to see if, indeed, under Chinese law, the party is a citizen of that country.


However, the Philippine court’s determination of the Chinese citizenship of a person cannot bind the Chinese State which, in the strict sense of international law, has the only prerogative to say if a person is its citizen or not. In other words, the Philippine forum’s determination of citizen – a question of law – cannot amount to res judicata insofar as the Chinese courts are concerned.


For example, in the case of In Re Testate Estate of Christensen v. Garcia,[2] a portion of the Supreme Court’s decision touched on the citizenship of the deceased and the loss thereof. The Court found that “the citizenship that he acquired in California when he resided in Sacramento, California from 1904 to 1913, was never lost by his stay in the Philippines, for the latter was a territory of the United States (not a state) until 1946 and the deceased appears to have considered himself as a citizen of California by the fact that when he executed his will in 1951 he declared that he was a citizen of that State; so that he appears never to have intended to abandon his California citizenship by acquiring another.” Here, the Supreme Court of the Philippines appears to have passed judgment upon whether the deceased lost his Californian citizenship. Whether or not the State of California will adopt the Philippine forum’s determination over this is up for the laws of California.


Natural-born citizens are those who are citizens of the Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their Philippine citizenship. Those who elect Philippine citizenship in accordance with paragraph (3), Section 1 hereof shall be deemed natural-born citizens.[3]


            There are two primary ways by which a state determines its people’s citizenship or, in other words, ways by which citizenship is acquired: (a) the jus soli or jus loci principle and (b) the jus sanguinis principle. This is a problem in private international law because not all countries adopt the same principle. There are also two kinds of citizens under Philippine law: (a) natural-born citizens and (b) naturalized citizens.


            Evidence presented in the Poe-Llamanzares case[4] showed at least sixty countries in Asia, North and South America, and Europe have passed legislation recognizing foundlings as its citizen. Forty-two (42) of those countries follow the jus sanguinis regime. This shows that not all countries adopt the jus sanguinis regime, i.e., they adopt the jus soli or the jus loci regime. This becomes a conflicts matter because a person may have two or more citizenships by reason of the passive application of the laws of two or more country. For example, a person born to a Filipino mother while in South Carolina would be both a Filipino citizen and an American citizen because the United States adopts the principle of jus soli.[5]


            Anent being a natural-born citizen or otherwise, in the case of Poe-Llamanzares v. COMELEC,[6] the Supreme Court was confornted with one important question: whether or not a foundling, especially a person of unknown parentage, can be considered a natural-born Filipino. The argument was that, since blood relationship is determinative of natural-born status and since foundlings were not expressly included in the categories of citizens under the Constitution, the burden is on the person whose citizenship is in question to show that s/he is a natural-born citizen.


            In resolving the Poe-Llamanzares case, the Supreme Court first enlightened the legal community that foundlings are likewise citizens under international law and the Philippine adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land, such as those embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 1930 Hague Convention, and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. Hence, the only question to be resolved is whether the person in question is natural-born or naturalized. The Court went on to explained that “there are only two types of citizens under the 1987 Constitution: natural-born citizen and naturalized, and that there is no third category.” Based on this and other arguments discussed in the said case, the Court ruled that the person in question is a natural-born Filipino, despite being a foundling.


Philippine citizenship may be lost or reacquired in the manner provided by law.[7]


Citizens of the Philippines who marry aliens shall retain their citizenship, unless by their act or omission they are deemed, under the law to have renounced it.[8]


As opposed to acquisition, there is also the matter of loss of citizenship and reacquisition thereof. Logical then is the study of its loss before the study of its reacquisition.


In the matter of loss of Philippine citizenship, the law student must keep in mind three relevant laws: (a) Commonwealth Act No. 63, October 21, 1936; (b) Republic Act No. 8171, July 03, 1995; and, (c) Republic Act No. 9225, August 29, 2003.


Commonwealth Act No. 63, October 21, 1936 is a An Act Providing for the Ways in Which Philippine Citizenship May Be Lost or Reacquired. Under Section 1 thereof, a Filipino citizen may lose his citizenship in any of the following ways and/or events: (a) by naturalization in a foreign country; (b) by express renunciation of citizenship; (c) by subscribing to an oath of allegiance to support the constitution or laws of a foreign country upon attaining twenty-one years of age or more; (d) by accepting commission in the military, naval or air service of a foreign country; (e) by cancellation of the certificate of naturalization; (f) by having been declared, by competent authority, a deserter of the Philippine army, navy or air corps in time of war, unless subsequently a plenary pardon or amnesty has been granted; and (g) in the case of a woman, upon her marriage to a foreigner if, by virtue of the law in force in her husband's country, she acquires his nationality.


            Out of the enumeration above, (b), (c), (d), (f) and (g) are clearly positive acts by the person whose citizenship is in question. On the other hand, (a) may or may not be a positive act because naturalization may be granted by a foreign country through law even if such grant was only passive on the part of the person whose citizenship is affect. An application for naturalization in a foreign country, however, is clearly a positive act. As to (e), cancellation of one’s certificate of naturalization may or may not be a positive act but, certainly, if the same was done because of a person’s violation of the naturalization laws, s/he cannot interpose the defense that the cancellation was merely passive on his/her part.


            Republic Act No. 8171[9] is an Act Providing for the Repatriation of Filipino Women Who Have Lost Their Philippine Citizenship by Marriage to Aliens and of Natural-Born Filipinos. According to its provisions, Filipino women who have lost their Philippine citizenship by marriage to aliens and natural-born Filipinos who have lost their Philippine citizenship, including their minor children, on account of political or economic necessity, may reacquire Philippine citizenship through repatriation in the manner provided in Section 4 of Commonwealth Act No. 63, as amended: Provided, that the applicant is not a: (a) person opposed to organized government or affiliated with any association or group of persons who uphold and teach doctrines opposing organized government; (b) person defending or teaching the necessity or propriety of violence, personal assault, or association for the predominance of their ideas; (c) person convicted of crimes involving moral turpitude; or (d) person suffering from mental alienation or incurable contagious diseases. Section 2 of the same law states that repatriation shall be effected by taking the necessary oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines and registration in the proper civil registry and in the Bureau of Immigration. The Bureau of Immigration shall thereupon cancel the pertinent alien certificate of registration and issue the certificate of identification as Filipino citizen to the repatriated citizen.


            Republic Act No. 9225[10] is an Act Making the Citizenship of Philippine Citizens Who Acquire Foreign Citizenship Permanent, Amending for the Purpose Commonwealth Act No. 63, as Amended, and for Other Purposes. Its policy is that all Philippine citizens who become citizens of another country shall be deemed not to have lost their Philippine citizenship under the conditions therein provided. Note that this statute is known as the “Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003.”


Any provision of law to the contrary notwithstanding, natural-born citizens of the Philippines who have lost their Philippine citizenship by reason of their naturalization as citizens of a foreign country are hereby deemed to have re-acquired Philippine citizenship upon taking the following oath of allegiance to the Republic:


“I _________________, solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines and obey the laws and legal orders promulgated by the duly constituted authorities of the Philippines, and I hereby declare that I recognize and accept the supreme authority of the Philippines and will maintain true faith and allegiance thereto; and that I impose this obligation upon myself voluntarily without mental reservation or purpose of evasion.”


Natural-born citizens of the Philippines who, after the effectivity of Republic Act No. 9225, become citizens of a foreign country shall retain their Philippine citizenship upon taking the aforesaid oath. Also, the unmarried child, whether legitimate, illegitimate or adopted, below eighteen (18) years of age, of those who re-acquire Philippine citizenship upon effectivity of Republic Act No. 9225 shall be deemed citizens of the Philippines.


Those who retain or re-acquire Philippine citizenship under Republic Act No. 9225 shall enjoy full civil and political rights and be subject to all attendant liabilities and responsibilities under existing laws of the Philippines and the following conditions: (a) those intending to exercise their right of suffrage must meet the requirements under Section 1, Article V of the Constitution, Republic Act No. 918, otherwise known as “The Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003” and other existing laws; (b) those seeking elective public office in the Philippines shall meet the qualifications for holding such public office as required by the Constitution and existing laws and, at the time of the filing of the certificate of candidacy, make a personal and sworn renunciation of any and all foreign citizenship before any public officer authorized to administer an oath; (c) those appointed to any public office shall subscribe and swear to an oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines and its duly constituted authorities prior to their assumption of office: Provided, That they renounce their oath of allegiance to the country where they took that oath; (d) those intending to practice their profession in the Philippines shall apply with the proper authority for a license or permit to engage in such practice; and (e) that right to vote or be elected or appointed to any public office in the Philippines cannot be exercised by, or extended to, those who: are candidates for or are occupying any public office in the country of which they are naturalized citizens; and/or are in active service as commissioned or non-commissioned officers in the armed forces of the country which they are naturalized citizens.


The effect of reacquisition is the restoration of Philippine citizenship to natural-born Filipino citizens who have been naturalized as citizens in a foreign country. All that is required to retain their citizenship is to take the oath of allegiance under the law.[11]






In Moy Ya Lim Yao v. Commissioner of Immigration,[12] the Supreme Court emphasized the variable nature of a person's citizenship, which cannot be determined with finality or become the basis of rules that can be applied to any and all proceedings thereafter. Everytime the citizenship of a person is material or indispensable in a judicial or administrative case, whatever the corresponding court or administrative authority decides therein as to such citizenship is generally not considered as res adjudicata, hence it has to be threshed out again and again as the occasion may demand.





In the case of Tan v. Crisologo,[13] Tan became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1993, i.e., before the effectivity of Republic Act No. 9225. Then, she filed her voter's registration application on October 26, 2009, and that she only took her Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines on November 30, 2009, or more than a month after the Election Registration Board (ERB) approved her application.


Tan argued that (a) her reacquisition of Philippine citizenship through Republic Act No. 9225 has a retroactive effect, such that a natural-born Filipino citizen is deemed never to have lost his or her Filipino citizenship, and that (b) the reacquisition cured any and all defects, assuming any are existing, attendant during her registration as a voter. Hence, the issue is whether Tan should be included in the list of voters even if she registered as a voter first before taking an oath to reacquire her Filipino citizenship and whether her reacquisition thereof retroacts to the time she lost her Philippine citizenship by reason of her naturalization as a United States citizen.


Resolving the case, the Supreme Court that Republic Act No. 9225 makes a distinction between Filipino citizens who lost their Philippine citizenship prior to the effectivity of said statute and reacquired their citizenship under the same law from those who lost their Philippine citizenship after said statute was enacted and retained their citizenship. On this point, however, Tan contends that this distinction does not substantially affect her citizenship status because reacquiring or retaining Filipino citizenship has the same effect.


Moreover, she points out that the framers of the law did not distinguish the difference; hence, using the words “reacquire” and “retain” interchangeably. Considering the plain meaning of the words “reacquire” and “retain,” the Court found it fitting to address the seeming confusion brought about by Section 2 of Republic Act No. 9225. In other words, by declaring “deemed to have not lost their Philippine citizenship,” the question is whether this mean that once Philippine citizenship is reacquired after taking the Oath of Allegiance required in Republic Act No. 9225, the effect on the citizenship status retroacts to the period before taking said oath. The Supreme Court ruled in the negative.


As then Chief Justice Maria Lourdes A. Serreno said, the “renunciation of foreign citizenship is not a hollow oath that can simply be professed at any time, only to be violated the next day. It requires an absolute and perpetual renunciation of the foreign citizenship and a full divestment of all civil and political rights granted by the foreign country which granted the citizenship.”[14] The tenor of these words paved the way for the Court to rule that use of a person’s United State passport after the oath amounts to a recantation his/her oath of renunciation. Given the distinction between citizens who have “reacquired” from those who “retained” Philippine citizenship, coupled with the legal effects of renunciation of citizenship, Section 2 of Republic Act No. 9225 cannot be used as basis for giving a retroactive application of the law. Said statute contains no provision stating that it may be applied retroactively as regards natural-born citizens who became naturalized citizens of a foreign country prior to the effectivity of the said law. In fact, correlating Sections 2 and 3 of the law would readily reveal that only those falling under the second paragraph of Republic Act No. 9225, i.e., natural-born citizens who became naturalized citizens of a foreign country after the effectivity of the said law, shall be considered as not to have lost their Philippine citizenship.


During the time Tan lost her Philippine citizenship, Republic Act No. 9225 had not yet been enacted and the applicable law was still Commonwealth Act No. 63. Under this law, both the renunciation of Philippine citizenship and the acquisition of a new citizenship in a foreign country through naturalization are grounds to lose Philippine citizenship. Since the foregoing law was still effective when Tan became an American citizen, the loss of her Philippine citizenship is but a necessary consequence. As the applicable law at that time, Tan was presumed to know the legal effects of her choice to become a naturalized United States citizen. The loss of Tan's Philippine citizenship is reinforced by the fact that she voluntarily renounced her Philippine citizenship as a requirement to acquire United States citizenship. All said, absent any legal basis for the retroactive application of R.A. No. 9225, Tan was not a Filipino citizen at the time she registered as a voter and her inclusion to the permanent voter's list is highly irregular.





Dual allegiance of citizens is inimical to the national interest and shall be dealt with by law.[15]


There may be situations in which a citizen of the Philippines may, without performing any act, be also a citizen of another state. This is clearly possible given the constitutional provisions on citizenship; hence, dual citizenship.[16] Dual citizenship, of course, is different from dual allegiance, which is inimical to the national interest.


Dual citizenship is the possession or enjoyment by an individual of two or more citizenships. Dual allegiance, on the other hand, refers to the situation in which a person simultaneously owes, by some positive act, loyalty to two or more states. While dual citizenship may be involuntary, dual allegiance is the result of an individual's volition.[17]


Based on the records of the 1986 Constitutional Commission,[18] the concern of the Constitution in declaring dual allegiance as inimical is not with dual citizens per se but with naturalized citizens who maintain their allegiance to their countries of origin even after their naturalization. Consequently, persons with mere dual citizenship do not fall under this disqualification. Duality of citizenship is merely a condition brought about by the unavoidable consequence of conflicting laws of different states. As Joaquin G. Bernas,[19] one of the most perceptive members of the Constitutional Commission, pointed out, dual citizenship “is just a reality imposed on us because we have no control of the laws on citizenship of other countries. We recognize a child of a Filipino mother. But whether she is considered a citizen of another country is something completely beyond our control.”





Note, however, that the constitutional provision or policy against dual allegiance is not self-executing. This is why the provision states “shall be dealt with by law.” Thus, without a law on dual allegiance enacted by Congress, the courts are without any jurisdiction to entertain issues regarding dual allegiance.


Section 5 of Article IV of the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines is a declaration of a policy and it is not a self-executing provision. The ball is on Congress to enact the law on dual allegiance and to set or define its consequences. In Sections 2 and 3 of Republic Act No. 9225, the framers were not concerned with dual citizenship per se, but with the status of naturalized citizens who maintain their allegiance to their countries of origin even after their naturalization.[20] Congress was given by the Constitution a mandate to draft a law that would set specific parameters of what really constitutes dual allegiance.[21] Without this being done, it would be premature for the judicial department to rule on issues pertaining to dual allegiance.




            In Aznar v. Garcia,[22] the issue on citizenship was raised because one of the contentions was that the decedent lost his citizenship in California because of his stay in the Philippines. As can be seen, this is a question whereby the Philippine forum was asked to determine the citizenship of a foreigner. According to the Supreme Court, the citizenship that he acquired in California when he resided in Sacramento, California from 1904 to 1913, was never lost by his stay in the Philippines, for the latter was a territory of the United States (not a state) until 1946 and the decedent appeared to have considered himself as a citizen of California by the fact that when he executed his will in 1951 wherein he declared that he was a citizen of California; so that he appeared never to have intended to abandon his California citizenship by acquiring another. To arrive at the above conclusion, the Supreme Court cited Goodrich.[23]


            Notice that the Supreme Court decided the case by stating that the decedent never lost his California citizenship despite the fact that, as a general rule, it is that state which should determine who its nationals are. However, the Court could not have decided the case properly without passing judgment upon this aspect of the dispute. In other words, the Court provisionally determined the issue of citizenship. Now, it is up to the State of California to accept or reject such a finding.




            In the case of In Re Will of Jennie Rider Babcock (Babcock Templeton v. Rider Babcock),[24] the Supreme Court held that a citizen of the United States cannot acquire citizenship in the Philippine Islands by residence here, however long continued.[25] The Court did not even have to say this in this way because, in that case, the issue was the testator’s domicile. Nonetheless, the Court was probably forced to say this because one of the contentions was that, even if the testator did not acquire a domicile in New York, she was a resident of the Philippine Islands at the time of her death; having established herself in the Philippines as a place of permanent abode, her will should not be admitted to probate as the will of a citizen of another state, i.e., as a foreigner but rather as a Filipino.



            In the case of Board of Commissioners v. Dela Rosa,[26] William Gatchalian was sought to be deported from the Philippines for being an undesirable alien.


            The Supreme Court said that, while it is beyond cavil that the Bureau of Immigration has the exclusive authority and jurisdiction to try and hear cases against an alleged alien, and in the process, determine also their citizenship,[27] and while it is also true that a mere claim of Filipino citizenship cannot operate to divest the Board of Commissioners of its jurisdiction in deportation proceedings,[28] these doctrines admit of an exception at least insofar as deportation proceedings are concerned.  The questions that may be raised relate to (a) whether the claim to citizenship of the alleged deportee is satisfactory; (b) whether the deportation proceedings should be allowed to continue; and (c) whether the question of citizenship be ventilated in a judicial proceeding. Citing the case of Chua Hiong v. Deportation Board,[29] the Court answered question (c) in the affirmative.


            When the evidence submitted to prove Filipino citizenship is conclusive, the right to immediate review in the judicial stream should also be recognized and the courts should promptly enjoin the deportation proceedings. A citizen is entitled to live in peace, without molestation from any official or authority, and if he is disturbed by a deportation proceeding, he has the unquestionable right to resort to the courts for his protection, either by a writ of habeas corpus or of prohibition, on the legal ground that the Board of Commissioners lacks jurisdiction. If he is a citizen and evidence thereof is satisfactory, there is no sense nor justice in allowing the deportation proceedings to continue, granting him the remedy only after the Board has finished its investigation of his undesirability.[30]




            The case of Co v. House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET)[31] deals with three issues: (a) jurisdiction; (b) citizenship; and, (c) residence. For the purpose of this chapter, citizenship is the question.


            On May 11, 1987, the congressional election for the second district of Northern Samar was held. Among the candidates who vied for the position of representative in the second legislative district of Northern Samar were petitioners, Sixto Balinquit and Antonio Co and the private respondent, Jose Ong, Jr. Respondent Ong was proclaimed the duly elected representative of the second district of Northern Samar. Petitioners filed election protests before the HRET on the ground of lack of the requirements of natural-born citizenship and residence. The HRET found for respondent.


            Respondent’s grandfather arrived in the Philippines in 1895 from China and established his residence in the municipality of Laoang, Samar. Then, he was able to obtain a certificate of residence from the then Spanish colonial administration. His father was born in China in 1905; was brought to Samar in 1915. Later, his father met a natural-born Filipina, respondent’s mother; married in 1932. They had eight children, one of whom was respondent who was born in 1948. In 1955, a trial court declared respondent’s father a Filipino citizen, thereafter taking his oath of allegiance to the Philippines and receiving a certificate of naturalization. At the time, respondent was nine years old.


            In 1971, the 1971 Constitutional Convention removed the unequal treatment given to derived citizenship on the basis of the mother’s citizenship. In 1984, respondent married a Filipina. For the elections of 1984 and 1986, respondent registered himself as a voter of Laoang, Samar, and correspondingly, voted there during those elections. In 1987, respondent ran for the people of Northern Samar as their representative. He won.


            According to the Supreme Court, the removal of the said unequal treatment in derived or derivative citinzenship was made to correct the anomalous situation where one born of a Filipino father and an alien mother was automatically granted the status of a natural-born citizen while one born of a Filipino mother and an alien father would still have to elect Philippine citizenship. Even if one so elected, s/he was not, under earlier laws, conferred the status of a natural-born. Under the 1973 Constitution, those born of Filipino fathers and those born of Filipino mothers with an alien father were placed on equal footing. They were both considered as natural-born citizens.


            In the case of respondent, there was no dispute that his mother was a natural born Filipina at the time of her marriage to his father. The only question for the Court then was whether or not respondent elected or chose to become a Filipino citizen. In answer this, the Supreme Court said:


“To expect the respondent to have formally or in writing elected citizenship when he came of age is to ask for the unnatural and unnecessary. The reason is obvious.  He was already a citizen. Not only was his mother a natural born citizen but his father had been naturalized when the respondent was only nine (9) years old. He could not have divined when he came of age that in 1973 and 1987 the Constitution would be amended to require him to have filed a sworn statement in 1969 electing citizenship in spite of his already having been a citizen since 1957. In 1969, election through a sworn statement would have been an unusual and unnecessary procedure for one who had been a citizen since he was nine years old.” (Underlining supplied by this author)


            Jurisprudence teaches that election of Filipino citizenship is both a formal and an informal process. In the case of In Re: Florencio Mallare,[32] the Court held that the exercise of the right of suffrage and the participation in election exercises constitute a positive act of election of Philippine citizenship. Respondent did more than merely exercise his right of suffrage; in fact, he established his life in the Philippines.


            The filing of a sworn statement or formal declaration is a requirement for those who still have to elect citizenship.  For those already Filipinos when the time to elect came up, there are acts of deliberate choice which cannot be less binding.   Entering a profession open only to Filipinos, serving in public office where citizenship is a qualification, voting during election time, running for public office, and other categorical acts of similar nature are themselves formal manifestations of choice for these persons. The Court emphasized, thus:


“We repeat that any election of Philippine citizenship on the part of the private respondent would not only have been superfluous but it would also have resulted in an absurdity.  How can a Filipino citizen elect Philippine citizenship?”




Filipinas Compania v. Christern[33] was about a fire policy issued by petitioner to respondent, both corporations. The object of the fire policy was burned; hence, respondent claimed from petitioner. Petitioner refused to pay the claim on the ground that the policy in favor of the respondent had ceased to be in force on the date the United States declared war against Germany, the respondent corporation (though organized under and by virtue of the laws of the Philippines) being controlled by German subjects and the petitioner being a company under American jurisdiction when said policy was issued on October 1, 1941.


            The counter-argument was that the nationality of a private corporation cannot determined by the character or citizenship of its controlling stockholders because a corporation is a citizen of the country or state by and under the laws of which it was created or organized.


            The Supreme Court disregarded the concept of citizenship of corporations based on the law of state in which it is registered, created or organized. In this case, it appears that this principle cannot apply when the question is whether a corporation should be considered an “enemy” under insurance laws.[34]




            Frivaldo v. Commission on Elections (COMELEC)[35] was about Juan G. Frivaldo who unquestionably obtained the highest number of votes in three successive elections but who was twice declared by the Supreme Court to be disqualified to hold such office due to his alien citizenship, and who, this time, claimed to have re-assumed his lost Philippine citizenship through repatriation. Hence, the validity and effectivity of Frivaldo's repatriation was the lis mota, the threshold legal issue in this case. The more particular issue was whether a candidate should possess Filipino citizenship from the time s/he registered as a voter, or from the time s/he filed his/her candidacy, or from before the election results were proclaimed, or from the time the winning candidate began to govern or assume public office.


            Frivaldo filed his application for repatriation in 1994. His certificate of candidacy was filed in 1995, the year of the elections. Frivaldo took his oath of allegiance, reacquiring Filipino citizenship in the afternoon of the day the winning candidate was proclaimed.


            In answering these questions, the Supreme Court delved into a premise. If the law intended the citizenship qualification to be possessed prior to election consistent with the requirement of being a registered voter, then it would not have made citizenship a separate qualification. It therefore stands to reason that the law intended citizenship to be a qualification distinct from being a voter, even if being a voter presumes being a citizen first. It also stands to reason that the voter requirement was included as another qualification (aside from citizenship), not to reiterate the need for nationality but to require that the official be registered as a voter in the area or territory s/he seeks to govern. It should be emphasized that the Local Government Code of the Philippines requires an elective official to be a registered voter. It does not require him/her to actually cast his/her vote. Hence, registration, not the actual act of voting, is the core of the qualification. In other words, the law’s purpose is to ensure that the prospective official is actually registered in the area s/he seeks to govern, not anywhere else.


            As to the citizenship requirement, the Supreme Court said that citizenship should be reckoned from the date of proclamation, not necessarily the date of election or date of filing of the certificate of candidacy. Citing the Omnibus Election Code, the Court said that the law gives any voter, presumably including the defeated candidate, the opportunity to question the eligibility (or the disloyalty) of a candidate. This is the only provision of the Code that authorizes a remedy on how to contest before the Comelec an incumbent’s ineligibility arising from failure to meet the qualifications enumerated under the Local Government Code. The remedy of quo warranto may be availed of after proclamation of the winning candidate. Hence, it is only at such time that the issue of ineligibility may be taken cognizance of by the Comelec. And since, at the very moment of proclamation, Frivaldo was already and indubitably a citizen, having taken his oath of allegiance earlier in the afternoon of the same day, then he should have been the candidate proclaimed as he unquestionably garnered the highest number of votes in the immediately preceding elections and such oath had already cured his previous judicially-declared alienage. Hence, at such time, he was no longer ineligible. In other words, the repatriation of Frivaldo retroacted to the date of the filing of his application in 1994.


            This pronouncement was reiterated by then Chief Justice Sereno in her concurring opinion in the case of Arnado v. COMELEC.[36] She said: “While citizenship is a continuing requirement that must be possessed not only at the time of election or assumption of office, but also during the entire tenure of the official, it is not a continuing disqualification to run for and hold public office.” This, again, shows the variable nature of citizenship, i.e., a judicial proclamation at one time that a person is not a citizen of the Republic of the Philippines does not strictly constitute as res judicata in a later case regarding the same question.




            Petitioner Ernesto S. Mercado and private respondent Eduardo B. Manzano were candidates for vice mayor of the City of Makati in the May 11, 1998 elections, in which Manzano received the highest number of votes. The proclamation of private respondent was suspended in view of a pending petition for disqualification filed by a certain Ernesto Mamaril who alleged that private respondent was not a citizen of the Philippines but of the United States.


            The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) granted the petition of Mamaril and ordered the cancellation of the certificate of candidacy of private respondent on the ground that he was a dual citizen. The disqualification of private respondent Manzano was based on Section 40 of the Local Government Code of 1991,[38] which declares as disqualified from running for any elective local position those with dual citizenship.


            On the part of the Office of Solicitor General (OSG), it invoked the principle of dura lex sed lex.


            Dual citizenship is different from dual allegiance. The former arises when, as a result of the concurrent application of the different laws of two or more states, a person is simultaneously considered a national by the said states.[39] For instance, birth to parents whose national law dictates the use of the principle of jus sanguinis within the territory of a state that adheres to the principle of jus soli would result in such a situation, which is neither the fault nor the positive or intentional act of the person born to such situation. In other words, the concurrence of two nationalities in one persons, in such a situation, operations not only ipso facto but also ipso jure.


Considering the citizenship clause under the 1987 Constitution, it is possible for the following classes of citizens of the Philippines to possess dual citizenship: (a) those born of Filipino fathers and/or mothers in foreign countries which follow the principle of jus soli; (b) Those born in the Philippines of Filipino mothers and alien fathers if by the laws of their fathers’ country such children are citizens of that country; and, among others, (c) those who marry aliens if by the laws of the latter's country the former are considered citizens, unless by their act or omission they are deemed to have renounced Philippine citizenship.[40]


Of course, there may be other situations that would result in the same duality of citizenship. This is because it is the state which defines who its citizens are. An extreme hypothetical example would be if a state declares all persons born in Asia to be its citizens; or, if another state declares that all coffee enthusiasts are its citizens. Of course, these exaggerated examples are far from reality but they are a good way to recall that the prerogative to define the qualifications of citizenry lies in the sovereign.


            While it is true that the above examples are improbable if not impossible, there are ways for them to happen. For example, in the Philippines, the question of Filipino citizenship is governed by the 1987 Constitution, which may be amended or revised in order to add or remove qualifications. In other states, it is possible that the question of Filipino citizenship is governed by statute which may repealed by mere act of their legislative branches.


            Dual allegiance, on the other hand, refers to the situation in which a person simultaneously owes, by some positive act, loyalty to two or more states. While dual citizenship is involuntary, dual allegiance is the result of an individual’s volition. Because of this, the 1987 Constitution declares that dual allegiance of citizens is inimical to the national interest and shall be dealt with by law.


            Despite the clear language of the Local Government Code, however, the Supreme Court took an unexpected turn in resolving the Mercado v. Mazano case. The Court said that the concern of the Constitutional Commission was not with dual citizens per se but with naturalized citizens who maintain their allegiance to their countries of origin even after their naturalization. Hence, it was ruled that the phrase “dual citizenship” under Section 40 (d) of the Local Government Code must be understood as referring to “dual allegiance,” instead of “dual citizenship.” As a result of this ruling, persons with mere dual citizenship do not fall under this disqualification.


            With all due respect to the Supreme Court, its resort to the “concern of the Constitutional Commission” could be characterized as an unsatisfactory, if not completely incorrect, reading of the law. First, when the law is clear and free from ambiguity, it must be applied in its literal sense and there should be no attempt at interpretation. Second, resort to matters, events and ideas extraneous to the text of the law itself, which is clear on its face, is a violation of the principle of separation of powers. Third, Congress is presumed to have understood the meaning of the words used in a statute. Hence, the remedy is not judicial interpretation which may be viewed as judicial legislation but an amendment of the law itself.


            Another issue in the Mercado v. Manzano case was the effect of election of Philippine citizenship. Private respondent was born in San Francisco, California on September 04, 1955, of Filipino parents. Since the Philippines adheres to the principle of jus sanguinis, while the United States follows the doctrine of jus soli, he was a national both of the Philippines and of the United States. However, the COMELEC En Banc held that, by participating in Philippine elections in 1992, 1995, and 1998, private respondent “effectively renounced his U.S. citizenship under American law,” so that he should be considered solely a Philippine national.


            According to the Supreme Court, private respondent’s filing of his sworn certificate of candidacy sufficed to renounce his American citizenship, effectively removing his dual citizenship. By declaring in his certificate of candidacy that he was a Filipino citizen; that he was not a permanent resident or immigrant of another country; that he would defend and support the Constitution of the Philippines and bear true faith and allegiance thereto and that he did so without mental reservation, private respondent, as far as Philippine laws are concerned, effectively repudiated his American citizenship and anything which he may have said before as a dual citizen.  On the other hand, private respondent’s oath of allegiance to the Philippines, when considered with the fact that he had spent his youth and adulthood, received his education, practiced his profession as an artist, and taken part in past elections in the Philippines, left no doubt as to his election of Philippine citizenship.


            Why did the Supreme Court say that Manzano lost his California citizenship only insofar as Philippine laws are concerned? This is because the sole and exclusive prerogative to declare that he actually lost such citizenship in eyes of the laws of California law is in the hands of the State of California. Whether that state would accept or not the findings of the Philippine Supreme Court is up to and is the call of the State of California. Nonetheless, as far as Philippine laws are concerned, Manzano should no longer be considered a California citizen. In fact, should he betray the trust he received by reason of his sworn declarations, there are enough sanctions for declaring the loss of his Philippine citizenship in appropriate proceedings. For example, in Yu v. Defensor-Santiago,[41] the Supreme Court sustained the denial of entry into the Philippines of therein petitioner on the ground that, after taking his oath as a naturalized Filipino citizen, he applied for the renewal of his Portuguese passport and declared in commercial documents executed abroad that he was a Portuguese national. A similar sanction can be taken against anyone who, in electing Philippine citizenship, renounces his foreign nationality, but subsequently does some act constituting renunciation of his Philippine citizenship.[42]



[1] Section 1 of Article IV of the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines.

[2] G.R. No. L-16749, January 31, 1963.

[3] Section 2 of Article IV of the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines.

[4] G.R. Nos. 221697 & 221698-700, March 8, 2016.

[5] Pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment and the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) in the United States, a person born within and subject to the jurisdiction of the United States automatically acquires US citizenship, known as jus soli (“right of the soil”).

[6] G.R. Nos. 221697 & 221698-700, March 8, 2016.

[7] Section 3 of Article IV of the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines.

[8] Section 4 of Article IV of the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines.

[9] July 03, 1995.

[10] August 29, 2003.

[11] Concurring and Dissenting Opinion of Justice Leonen in Arnado v. COMELEC, et al., G.R. No. 210164, 18 August 2015.

[12] 148-B Phil. 773 (1971), cited by then Chief Justice Sereno in her Concurring Opinion in Arnado v. COMELEC, et al., G.R. No. 210164, 18 August 2015.

[13] G.R. No. 193993, November 8, 2017.

[14] Maquiling v. Commission on Election, 709 Phil. 408, 436 (2013).

[15] Section 5 of Article IV of the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines.

[16] Mercado v. Manzano, G.R. No. 135083, May 26, 1999.

[17] Mercado v. Manzano, G.R. No. 135083, May 26, 1999.

[18] 1 RECORD OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL COMMISSION 203 (Session of June 23, 1986).

[19] As cited in Mercado v. Manzano, G.R. No. 135083, May 26, 1999.

[20] Mercado v. Manzano, G.R. No. 135083, May 26, 1999, 307 SCRA 630.

[21] Records, Constitutional Commission 365 (July 8, 1986).

[22] G. R. No. L-16749, January 31, 1963, 117 Phil. 96.

[23] Handbook of the Conflict of Laws by Herbert F. Goodrich. Second Edition. West Publishing Co., St. Paul, 1938.

[24] G.R. No. 28328. October 02, 1928, 52 Phil. 130.

[25] In Re Estate of Johnson, 39 Phil., 156. 

[26] G.R. No. 95122. May 31, 1991, 274 Phil. 1156.

[27] Lao Gi v. Court of Appeals, 180 SCRA 756 [1989].

[28] Miranda v. Deportation Board, 94 Phil 531 [1954].

[29] 96 Phil 665 [1955].

[30] 96 Phil 665 [1955].

[31] 276 Phil. 758 [ G.R. Nos. 92191-92. July 30, 1991 ].

[32] 59 SCRA 45 [1974].

[33] 89 Phil. 54 [ G. R. No. L-2294. May 25, 1951 ].

[34] Because Philippine insurance laws disqualifies “enemies” from becoming insured.

[35] 327 Phil. 521 [ G.R. No. 120295. June 28, 1996 ].

[36] 767 Phil. 51 [ G.R. No. 210164. August 18, 2015 ].

[37] 367 Phil. 132 EN BANC [ G.R. No. 135083. May 26, 1999 ].

[38] Republic Act No. 7160.

[39] Jovito R. Salonga, Private International Law, p. 166 (1995).

[40] Mercado v. Manzano, 367 Phil. 132 EN BANC [ G.R. No. 135083. May 26, 1999 ].

[41] 251 Phil. 346 [ G.R. No. 83882. January 24, 1989 ].

[42] See Maquiling v. Commission on Election, 709 Phil. 408, 436 (2013).