Yasay and Cayetano citizenship different | Inquirer Opinion

Yasay and Cayetano citizenship different

/ 06:57 PM March 16, 2017

I cannot find the law cited by Atty. Rodel Rodis to argue that Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano is not a Filipino (“Is Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano a PH citizen,” 2017/3/16).

Rodis states that Cayetano was born a Filipino-American dual citizen because his father was Filipino and his mother was American. When he turned 21, he had to choose one. He chose to be American and gave up Philippine citizenship.


In 1998, he renounced US citizenship to run for Congress. Rodis argues Cayetano never regained Philippine citizenship and compares him to Perfecto Yasay, who was recently not confirmed as Secretary of Foreign Affairs.

There is one problem with this theory: There seems to be no law that requires this choice by age 21.


If there is no such law, then Cayetano stayed Filipino when he renounced US citizenship, and was later validly elected a senator.

Yasay’s case was completely different. Yasay was born Filipino and became a naturalized US citizen in 1986. There was no dual citizenship law then, so he lost Philippine citizenship. He then renounced US citizenship in 2016 and now appears to be neither American nor Filipino.

The 1935 Constitution, in force when Cayetano was born in 1970, allowed those with a Filipino mother and a non-Filipino father to choose Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority.

However, this does not apply to Cayetano. His father was Filipino and he automatically became a Philippine citizen without having to choose. “How can a Filipino citizen elect Philippine citizenship?” noted the Supreme Court (SC) decisionCo v. Electoral Tribunal for this context.

This provision was later changed and one is now born Filipino if either one’s father or mother is Filipino. Other than this, there seems to be no law that requires what Rodis describes.

Philippine law is familiar with those born Filipino-American dual citizens. The old article “A critique on dual nationality” (Philippine Law Journal, 1980) cites this as “a classic case of dual nationality,” because the Philippines determines citizenship based on the parents’ citizenship while the US uses place of birth. Someone born in the US to Filipino parents will be a dual citizen because of the difference in law.

But the article does not mention having to choose when one turns 21.


Incidentally, US law does not require this choice, either.

I have always respected Cayetano’s tenacity in legislative debates, even on issues where I disagree with him. Further, I deeply respect his sister, Rep. and former Sen. Pia Cayetano, who championed the Reproductive Health Act all the way to the SC floor and disregarded party affiliation to vote in favor of citizenship for foundlings in the Senate Electoral Tribunal.

I am deeply concerned that Rodis questions the citizenship of these legislators using a law I cannot verify, in this age of fake news and alternative facts.

May we ask Atty. Rodis to explain this elusive law under which Cayetano allegedly lost his Philippine citizenship?

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React: [email protected],
Twitter @oscarfbtan, facebook.com/OscarFranklinTan.

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TAGS: Alan Peter Cayetano, Citizenship, dual citizenship, Filipino citizenship, law, US
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