Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The term "citizens of the Philippine Islands" appeared for the first time in the Philippine Bill of 1902, also commonly referred to as the Philippine Organic Act of 1902, the first comprehensive legislation of the Congress of the United States on the Philippines -

".... that all inhabitants of the Philippine Islands continuing to reside therein, who were Spanish subjects on the 11th day of April, 1891, and then resided in said Islands, and their children born subsequent thereto, shall be deemed and held to be citizens of the Philippine Islands and as such entitled to the protection of the United States, except such as shall have elected to preserve their allegiance to the Crown of Spain in accordance with the provisions of the treaty of peace between the United States and Spain, signed at Paris, December tenth eighteen hundred and ninety eight."

Under the organic act, a “citizen of the Philippines” was one who was an inhabitant of the Philippines, and a Spanish subject on the 11th day of April 1899. The term “inhabitant” was taken to include 1) a native-born inhabitant, 2) an inhabitant who was a native of Peninsular Spain, and 3) an inhabitant who obtained Spanish papers on or before 11 April 1899.

Controversy arose on to the status of children born in the Philippines from 11 April 1899 to 01 July 1902, during which period no citizenship law was extant in the Philippines. Weight was given to the view, articulated in jurisprudential writing at the time, that the common law principle of jus soli, otherwise also known as the principle of territoriality, operative in the United States and England, governed those born in the Philippine Archipelago within that period. More about this later.

In 23 March 1912, the Congress of the United States made the following amendment to the Philippine Bill of 1902 -

"Provided, That the Philippine Legislature is hereby authorized to provide by law for the acquisition of Philippine citizenship by those natives of the Philippine Islands who do not come within the foregoing provisions, the natives of other insular possession of the United States, and such other persons residing in the Philippine Islands who would become citizens of the United States, under the laws of the United States, if residing therein."

With the adoption of the Philippine Bill of 1902, the concept of "Philippine citizens" had for the first time crystallized. The word "Filipino" was used by William H. Taft, the first Civil Governor General in the Philippines when he initially made mention of it in his slogan, "The Philippines for the Filipinos." In 1916, the Philippine Autonomy Act, also known as the Jones Law restated virtually the provisions of the Philippine Bill of 1902, as so amended by the Act of Congress in 1912 -

“That all inhabitants of the Philippine Islands who were Spanish subjects on the eleventh day of April, eighteen hundred and ninety-nine, and then resided in said Islands, and their children born subsequently thereto, shall be deemed and held to be citizens of the Philippine Islands, except such as shall have elected to preserve their allegiance to the Crown of Spain in accordance with the provisions of the treaty of peace between the United States and Spain, signed at Paris December tenth, eighteen hundred and ninety-eight and except such others as have since become citizens of some other country; Provided, That the Philippine Legislature, herein provided for, is hereby authorized to provide for the acquisition of Philippine citizenship by those natives of the Philippine Islands who do not come within the foregoing provisions, the natives of the insular possessions of the United States, and such other persons residing in the Philippine Islands who are citizens of the United States, or who could become citizens of the United States under the laws of the United States, if residing therein."

Under the Jones Law, a native-born inhabitant of the Philippines was deemed to be a citizen of the Philippines as of 11 April 1899 if he was 1) a subject of Spain on 11 April 1899, 2) residing in the Philippines on said date, and, 3) since that date, not a citizen of some other country.

While there was, at one brief time, divergent views on whether or not jus soli was a mode of acquiring citizenship, the 1935 Constitution brought to an end to any such link with common law, by adopting, once and for all, jus sanguinis or blood relationship as being the basis of Filipino citizenship -

“Section 1, Article III, 1935 Constitution. The following are citizens of the Philippines -

“(1) Those who are citizens of the Philippine Islands at the time of the adoption of this Constitution

“(2) Those born in the Philippines Islands of foreign parents who, before the adoption of this Constitution, had been elected to public office in the Philippine Islands.

“(3) Those whose fathers are citizens of the Philippines.

“(4) Those whose mothers are citizens of the Philippines and upon reaching the age of majority, elect Philippine citizenship.

“(5) Those who are naturalized in accordance with law.”

Subsection (4), Article III, of the 1935 Constitution, taken together with existing civil law provisions at the time, which provided that women would automatically lose their Filipino citizenship and acquire that of their foreign husbands, resulted in discriminatory situations that effectively incapacitated the women from transmitting their Filipino citizenship to their legitimate children and required illegitimate children of Filipino mothers to still elect Filipino citizenship upon reaching the age of majority. Seeking to correct this anomaly, as well as fully cognizant of the newly found status of Filipino women as equals to men, the framers of the 1973 Constitution crafted the provisions of the new Constitution on citizenship to reflect such concerns -

“Section 1, Article III, 1973 Constitution - The following are citizens of the Philippines:

“(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 who elect Philippine citizenship pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution of nineteen hundred and thirty-five.

“(4) Those who are naturalized in accordance with law.”

For good measure, Section 2 of the same article also further provided that –

"A female citizen of the Philippines who marries an alien retains her Philippine citizenship, unless by her act or omission she is deemed, under the law to have renounced her citizenship."

The 1987 Constitution generally adopted the provisions of the 1973 Constitution, except for subsection (3) thereof that aimed to correct the irregular situation generated by the questionable proviso in the 1935 Constitution.

Section I, Article IV, 1987 Constitution now provides:

“The following are citizens of the Philippines:

“(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.”

No comments: