Antonio Bengzon III vs. House of Representative Electoral Tribunal.

G.R. No. 142840, May 7, 2001

FACTS:

Respondent Cruz was a natural-born citizen of the Philippines. However he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and, without the consent of the Republic of the Philippines, took an oath of allegiance to the United States.

After almost 9 years, Cruz reacquired his Philippine citizenship through repatriation under Republic Act No. 2630. He ran and was elected as the Representative of the Second District of Pangasinan.

Bengzon claimed that respondent Cruz was not qualified to become a member of the House of Representatives since he is not a natural-born citizen when he swore allegiance to the United States in 1995, and had to reacquire the same by repatriation.

Respondent on the other hand contends that he reacquired his status as a natural-born citizen when he was repatriated since the phrase “from birth” in Article IV, Section 2 refers to the innate, inherent and inborn characteristic of being a natural-born citizen.

ISSUE:

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Whether Teodoro Cruz, a natural born citizen, who became an American Citizen, can still be considered a natural-born Filipino upon his re-acquisition of PH citizenship.

HELD:

YES. The 1987 Constitution enumerates who are Filipino citizens as follows:

(1)Those who are citizens of the Philippines at the time of the adoption of this 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.

There are two ways of acquiring citizenship: (1) by birth, and (2) by naturalization.

Cruz lost his Filipino citizenship when he rendered service in the Armed Forces of the United States. However, he subsequently reacquired Philippine citizenship under RA. No. 2630. Having thus taken the required oath of allegiance to the Republic and having registered the same in the Civil Registry of Magantarem, Pangasinan in accordance with the aforecited provision, respondent Cruz is deemed to have recovered his original status as a natural-born citizen, a status which he acquired at birth as the son of a Filipino father. It bears stressing that the act of repatriation allows him to recover, or return to, his original status before he lost his Philippine citizenship.

Repatriation results in the recovery of the original nationality. This means that a naturalized Filipino who lost his citizenship will be restored to his prior status as a naturalized Filipino citizen. On the other hand, if he was originally a natural-born citizen before he lost his Philippine citizenship, he will be restored to his former status as a natural-born Filipino.

Petitioner’s contention that respondent Cruz is no longer a natural-born citizen since he had to perform an act to regain his citizenship is untenable. Two requisites must concur for a person to be considered as such: (1) a person must be a Filipino citizen from birth and (2) he does not have to perform any act to obtain or perfect his Philippine citizenship. A citizen who is not a naturalized Filipino, i.e., did not have to undergo the process of naturalization to obtain Philippine citizenship, necessarily is a natural-born Filipino. Noteworthy is the absence in said enumeration of a separate category for persons who, after losing Philippine citizenship, subsequently reacquire it. The reason therefor is clear: as to such persons, they would either be natural-born or naturalized depending on the reasons for the loss of their citizenship and the mode prescribed by the applicable law for the reacquisition thereof. As respondent Cruz was not required by law to go through naturalization proceedings in order to reacquire his citizenship, he is a natural-born Filipino. As such, he possessed all the necessary qualifications to be elected as member of the House of Representatives.

Notes

The decision granting Philippine citizenship becomes executory only after two (2) years from its promulgation when the court is satisfied that during the intervening period, the applicant has (1) not left the Philippines; (2) has dedicated himself to a lawful calling or profession; (3) has not been convicted of any offense or violation of Government promulgated rules; or (4) committed any act prejudicial to the interest of the nation or contrary to any Government announced policies.

Filipino citizens who have lost their citizenship may however reacquire the same in the manner provided by law. Commonwealth Act. No. 63 (CA No. 63), enumerates the three modes by which Philippine citizenship may be reacquired by a former citizen: (1) by naturalization, (2) by repatriation, and (3) by direct act of Congress.

  • Naturalization is a mode for both acquisition and reacquisition of Philippine citizenship. As a mode of initially acquiring Philippine citizenship, naturalization is governed by Commonwealth Act No. 473, as amended. On the other hand, naturalization as a mode for reacquiring Philippine citizenship is governed by Commonwealth Act No. 63. Under this law, a former Filipino citizen who wishes to reacquire Philippine citizenship must possess certain qualifications17 and none of the disqualifications mentioned in Section 4 of CA. 473.
  • Repatriation, on the other hand, may be had under various statutes by those who lost their citizenship due to: (1) desertion of the armed forces; (2) service in the armed forces of the allied forces in World War II; (3) service in the Armed Forces of the United States at any other time; (4) marriage of a Filipino woman to an alien; and (5) political and economic necessity

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