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Is Cayetano a PH citizen?
Philippine Daily Inquirer / 01:26 AM April 01, 2017
In Wikipedia’s “List of former United States citizens who relinquished their nationality,” the following entry is provided about Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano: “[He] was born in the Philippines in 1970 to Philippine Senator Renato Cayetano and his American wife, Sandra Schramm-Cayetano (a native of Michigan). He attended university in the Philippines, and renounced U.S. citizenship to stand for election to the Philippine House of Representatives in the 1998 elections, and to gain admission to the Philippine Bar that same month.”
When I wrote about Senator Cayetano’s inclusion in the Wikipedia list (“Is Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano a PH citizen?” Inquirer.net, 3/16/17), his supporters were quick to denounce me as a spreader of “fake news” and Wikipedia as an unreliable source of information.
The problem for them is that Senator Cayetano responded to my article by essentially confirming the Wikipedia report: “But even without any legal obligation nor necessity, I gave up my American Citizenship because even before I took the Philippine Bar or ran for Congress, I knew I wanted to serve the Filipino People and knew I could only best do that by having no questions to my allegiance.”
Senator Cayetano basically confirmed that when he ran for and won as councilor of Taguig City in 1991 (at age 21) and as vice mayor in 1995 (at age 25), there were “questions” about his allegiance because he was still a US citizen.
The Philippine Supreme Court, as recently as Aug. 18, 2015, in Arnado v. Comelec, declared: “Only natural-born Filipinos who owe total and undivided allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines can run for and hold elective public office.” A dual citizen clearly does not “owe total and undivided allegiance” to the Philippines.
But Senator Cayetano insists that “even without any legal obligation nor necessity, I gave up my American Citizenship because even before I took the Philippine Bar or ran for Congress, I knew I wanted to serve the Filipino People and knew I could only best do that by having no questions to my allegiance.”
Was he under “no legal obligation” to relinquish his US citizenship in 1998?
Perhaps members of the Philippine bar can educate him about Article 12, Section 14 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, which states: “The practice of all professions in the Philippines shall be limited to Filipino citizens, save in cases prescribed by law.”
The issue on whether Senator Cayetano is a “natural born Filipino citizen” is found in Article IV, Section I of the 1987 Philippine Constitution which states that citizens of the Philippines include “those born before January 17, 1973, of Filipino mothers, who elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority.”
If the law is gender-neutral and does not discriminate between Filipino mothers and fathers, then this section applies to Senator Cayetano who was born in 1970 and who elected US citizenship on Jan. 23, 1985, when he personally applied for and obtained his Alien Certificate of Registration as a US citizen.
Article IV, Section 2 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution states: “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.”
The inverse is therefore true: Those who elected US citizenship shall NOT be deemed to be “natural-born” Philippine citizens. Since Senator Cayetano does not contest the fact that he elected US citizenship on Jan. 23, 1985, then he is not a “natural-born Filipino” according to the 1987 Philippine Constitution, even though, as he insists, the Commission on Elections under then Chair Benjamin Abalos already ruled in his favor in 2007 based on an examination of his birth certificate showing that he was born in the Philippines of a Filipino father.
There are dozens of Filipino-Americans in San Francisco who have applied for a Philippine passport based on the fact that they were born in the Philippines of an American father and a Filipino mother, but who left the Philippines with a US passport before they reached 21. Their applications for dual citizenship were all uniformly rejected by the Philippine Consulate because they were deemed not to have “elected Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority” because they elected US citizenship just as Senator Cayetano did.
If Senator Cayetano had applied for a Philippine passport in San Francisco based on the documents he presented to the Comelec in 2007, his application would have been flatly rejected.
If President Duterte proceeds with his avowed intention to appoint Senator Cayetano as his new secretary of foreign affairs on May 10, 2017—when the one-year ban on appointments of candidates who ran for public office a year ago expires—then the question posed by this article will have to be answered.
It still should be.
Rodel E. Rodis relinquished his Philippine citizenship when he became a naturalized US citizen in 1981 but reacquired it in 2003 and is now a dual citizen. Send comments to Rodislawyer@gmail.com.
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