The issue is ‘reacquisition of PH citizenship’
The facts of the disqualification case against Sen. Grace Poe are practically undisputed. She was a foundling and, as such, acquired the citizenship of the place where she was found, i.e., Philippine citizenship. Her status as a citizen of the Philippines at the time the 1987 Constitution was adopted was never challenged. Article IV, Section 1 of the Constitution says: “Those who are citizens of the Philippines at the time of the adoption of this Constitution” are citizens of the Philippines. She retained that status thereafter.
By definition, a “natural-born” citizen is one who needs to perform no further act to perfect his/her citizenship, as distinguished from a “naturalized citizen” who had to go through a tedious process known as “naturalization.” Poe underwent no such process. She was ineluctably a “natural-born” citizen from the moment of birth.
In 2001, she was naturalized as an American citizen. In 2006, she “reacquired” Philippine citizenship under Republic Act No. 9225 (which amended Commonwealth Act No. 63). The issue boils down to what “reacquisition of Philippine citizenship” means under that law. Its Section 3 provides that “natural-born citizenship by reason of their naturalization as citizens of a foreign country are hereby deemed to have re-acquired Philippine citizenship upon taking their oath of allegiance to the Republic” (sic, IGM LawPhil).
Except for its palpably ungrammatical expression, that section is as clear as daylight: “Natural-born citizenship” is deemed (meaning, automatically) reacquired upon taking the oath. Thus, the moment Poe took that oath, she resumed her status as a “natural-born” Filipino.
—GEORGE DEL MAR, [email protected]
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