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This paper explains briefly Article IV (Citizenship) and Article V (Suffrage) of the 1987 Philippine Constitution.
At the end the discussion, the students are expected to:
1. Explain the meaning and requirements of Philippine citizenship;
2. Discuss and distinguish the different principles and concepts involving citizenship;
3. Explain the meaning and requirements of suffrage; and
4. Discuss the various related concepts and principles in suffrage.
Need for Citizenship Education
1. Citizenship education, which is the primary purpose of studying Philippine politics and governance, entails knowing the basic rights as well as the corresponding duties of the citizens. Section 3 (2), Article XIV provides that all educational institutions “shall inculcate patriotism and nationalism, foster love of humanity, respect for human rights, appreciation of the role of national heroes in the historical development of the country, teach the rights and duties of citizenship, strengthen ethical and spiritual values, develop moral character and personal discipline, encourage critical and creative thinking, broaden scientific and technological knowledge, and promote vocational efficiency.”
2. It must also be noted that one of the State Policies of the Philippines is the rearing of the youth for civic efficiency. Section 13, Article II provides that “the State recognizes the vital role of the youth in nation-building and shall promote and protect their physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual, and social well-being. It shall inculcate in the youth patriotism and nationalism, and encourage their involvement in public and civic affairs.” This is also why, under Section 12, Article II, the State supports the parents in their primary right and duty in rearing the youth for civic efficiency and development of moral character.
3. Before delving on the rights and duties of the citizens, it is logically important to know first who are the citizens of the Philippines, the modes of acquiring citizenship, the types of citizens, and difference between a citizen and a non-citizen as to possession of rights, privileges, and duties. Knowing these concepts will preparatory for the discussion of suffrage, which is one of the rights and duties of a citizen, and the bill of rights, which is the declaration and enumeration of the rights individuals as will be discussed in Chapter 9.
Constitutional Provisions on Citizenship and Suffrage
Article IV of the 1987 Constitution discusses Citizenship. Article V discusses Suffrage. These provisions will be explained in detail in the following subtopics.
Meaning of Citizenship
Citizenship refers to the membership of a person to a democratic state which bestows upon him/her full civil and political rights (unless especially disqualified by law), and the corresponding duty to support and maintain allegiance to the state. Such membership underscores the symbiotic relationship of the state, which on the one hand gives protection to the citizen, and the citizen, who on the other hand is duty bound to support the state.
Citizens of the Philippines
1. Classification. There are four instances enumerated in the Constitution as to who are considered citizens of the Philippines. Section 1, Article IV of the Constitution, 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.”
First, those who are citizens of the Philippines at the time of the adoption of the 1987 Constitution, referring to those who were already Filipinos under the 1973 Constitution and were still citizens at the time of the passage of the 1987 Constitution. Second, those who are Philippine citizens because either their fathers “or” mothers are Philippine citizens. Third, those whose fathers are foreigners, and then later elected their Philippine citizenship upon reaching 18 years old in accordance with 1935 Constitution which was in effect at the time of their birth. And fourth, those who are naturalized under the procedures provided by law.
2. Natural Born and Naturalized Citizens. Basically, there are only two categories of Philippine citizens: the natural born and the naturalized. On the one hand, a natural born citizen is someone who is already a Filipino at the time of his birth and does not have to do anything to acquire or perfect his citizenship (Sec. 2, Art. II). In other words, he is a Filipino by birth. On the other hand, a naturalized citizen is someone who was once a foreigner then later on became a Filipino by legal fiction. Paragraph 2 (Either father or mother is a Filipino) and paragraph 3 (Elect Philippine Citizenship) of the above provision are natural born citizens, while paragraph 4 (naturalized under the law) refers to the naturalized citizen. Paragraph 1 (citizen at the time of the adoption of the Constitution) may refer to either a natural born or naturalized citizen depending on the kind of citizenship he has at the time of the adoption of the 1987 Constitution.
3. Principles Determining Citizenship. How can birth determine citizenship in the case of natural born citizens? There are two principles that could answer this. First is the jus sanguinis principle, which states that “blood relations” determine citizenship, and the second is the jus soli or jus loci principle, which states that the “place of birth” determines citizenship. The Philippines adopts the jus sanguinis principle and is now the underlying theory behind Article IV. Thus, someone becomes a Filipino by birth if either his mother “or” father is a Filipino, so that by virtue of his blood relations to either his Filipino parents he is also a Filipino. If Pedro, for example, has a Filipino mother and a foreigner father, then he is still a Filipino by birth, and therefore a natural born citizen.
4. Old Rule. It must be noted that the present rule is different from that in the 1935 Constitution. Under the old rule, those whose fathers are foreigners and whose mothers are citizens of the Philippines must still elect their Philippine citizenship upon reaching 18 years old. In other words, citizenship depends upon blood relations with the father. This was no longer the rule under the 1973 Constitution and under the present Constitution. Citizenship is now attributable to both the father and mother. But for those who were born during the effectivity of the 1935 Constitution, or before January 17, 1973 (the date of promulgation of the 1973 Constitution), they must still elect their Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority. For instance, if Pedro was born in January 1, 1970, of a Chinese father and a Filipino mother, then in 1988 when he is already 18 years old, he must elect his Philippine citizenship. Under Section 2, Article II, those who elect their Philippine citizenship are still deemed natural born citizens.
1. Who are Naturalized Citizens? Naturalized citizens those are clothed by law with the rights and privileges accorded to a citizen of the Philippines, as well as bound by their duties to the State. In other words, they are also Filipinos. Thus they can vote during elections, acquire real property, and engage in business, among others. They must likewise observe loyalty to the Philippines, pay their taxes, and obey the laws and duly constituted authorities of the land. However, they cannot be elected President or Vice-President, or member of the Congress, or appointed justice of the Supreme Court or lower collegiate courts, or member of any of the Constitutional Commissions, or Ombudsman or his Deputy, or member of the Central Monetary Agency. These are among the restrictions to a naturalized citizen which are reserved only to a natural born citizen, who is by birth and heart a Filipino.
2. Naturalization entails renunciation of former allegiance and the subsequent act of formal entrance into a new body politic. The grant of citizenship by naturalization is an act of grace on the part of the State. Just as the State can confer or grant citizenship, it can also withhold or take away the same. Thus, aliens or foreigners do not have a natural or inherent right to demand membership to the State.
3. Kinds of Naturalization. The government, through its three branches, can confer citizenship by naturalization. Hence, a foreigner can be naturalized in either of three ways:
(a) Judicial naturalization refers to naturalization by means of court judgment pursuant to the “Revised Naturalization Act.” Applications are filed with the proper Regional Trial Court which will render the decree of naturalization;
(b) Legislative naturalization refers to naturalization by means of a direct act of Congress, that is, by the enactment of a law by the Congress declaring therein that a foreigner is conferred citizenship and admitted into the political community; and
(c) Administrative naturalization is naturalization by means of administrative proceedings before the Special Committee on Naturalization pursuant to the “Administrative Naturalization Law of 2000.” Applicants must be aliens born and residing in the Philippines with all of the qualifications and none of the disqualifications provided by law.
Lost and Reacquisition of Citizenship
1. Lost of Citizenship. Section 3, Article 4 of the Constitution states that “Philippine citizenship may be lost or reacquired in the manner provided by law.” There are two laws which provide the manner of loss of citizenship. First is “Commonwealth Act No. 63” which provides that citizenship is lost by naturalization in another country, by express renunciation of citizenship, by subscribing to an oath of allegiance to support the constitution and laws of another country, by rendering service to a foreign armed forces, and by deserting the armed forces of the Philippines. Second is Commonwealth Act No. 473 which states that citizenship is lost by cancellation of certificate of naturalization by court, by permanent residence in the country of origin for a period of five years from the time of naturalization, by an invalid declaration of intent in the petition, by failure to with the educational requirements of the minor children, and by allowing oneself to used by a foreigner.
2. Reacquisition of Citizenship. As far as reacquisition of citizenship is concerned, Commonwealth Act No. 63 also provides that citizenship which was lost may be reacquired by naturalization, by a direct act of Congress, or by repatriation.
(a) Naturalization may be applied for by a former Philippine citizen who lost his citizenship under any of the aforesaid ways. For example, Pedro was a Filipino who became a naturalized citizen in another country, and as a result he lost his Philippine citizenship. If he applies for naturalization and later on the court gave him a decree of naturalization, then he reacquires his Philippine citizenship.
(b) The Congress can also reinstitute, by means of a law, citizenship to those who lost it.
(c) Repatriation is accomplished by taking the necessary oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines and then registering the same in the proper Civil Registry and in the Bureau of Immigration. This is available to women who have lost their citizenship through marriage to aliens, those who lost their citizenship on account of economic and political necessity not otherwise disqualified by law, and deserters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
3. R.A. No. 9225. Special note must be given to Republic Act No. 9225, otherwise known as “Citizenship Retention and Reacquisition Act of 2003,”which amended Commonwealth Act No. 63. It provides that natural born citizens of the Philippines who lost their citizenship because of naturalization in a foreign country shall be deemed to have reacquired their Philippine citizenship upon taking the oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines. After the effectivity of RA 9225, those who are naturalized in a foreign country shall retain their Philippine citizenship also upon taking the oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines. Thus, under the present law, it is the taking of the necessary oath of allegiance and registration of the same that retains and reacquires Philippine citizenship.
4. Marriage to an Alien. Under Section 4, Article IV, mere marriage to an alien is not a ground for losing Philippine citizenship, unless there is implied or express renunciation through acts or omissions. For example, if Maria is married to Friedrich, a foreigner, and in Friedrich’s country his marriage confers on Maria their citizenship, then Maria will not automatically lose her citizenship as provided by the Constitution. What she has is dual citizenship. But if Maria subscribes to an oath of allegiance to her husband’s country, then her act is deemed a renunciation of her Philippine citizenship, thus, a ground for losing her citizenship.
Dual Allegiance and Dual Citizenship
1. Dual Allegiance as Provided in the Constitution. Section 5, Article IV states, “Dual allegiance of citizens is inimical to the national interest and shall be dealt with by law.” Dual allegiance happens when a naturalized citizen of the Philippines maintains his allegiance to his country of origin. For example, if Joe, who was a foreigner, becomes a naturalized citizen of the Philippines, and after naturalization he still maintains his allegiance to his mother country, then his case is said to be one of dual allegiance. This is prohibited by the Constitution to prevent a former foreigner, who gained political membership, to have false allegiance or pretend loyalty to the Philippines.
2. Dual Allegiance vs. Dual Citizenship. The Constitution, however, does not prohibit dual citizenship. Dual allegiance is different from dual citizenship. Dual citizenship happens when an individual is a citizen of two countries because the laws of both countries confer upon him membership to their State. For example, if Pedro’s parents are Filipinos and he is born in United State of America, he acquires Philippine citizenship under the principle of jus sanguinis and American citizenship under the principle of jus soli. Thus, he has dual citizenship because of the respective laws of the two countries. Another example is when a Filipino marries a foreigner and thereby acquires the citizenship of the spouse, there is also dual citizenship. The Philippines cannot prohibit dual citizenship because its laws cannot control the laws of other states. It is dual allegiance that is prohibited because it is intentional while dual citizenship is generally unintentional, in that it is only accidentally cause by birth in a foreign state or marriage with a foreigner.
3. Limitation on Dual Citizenship. Dual citizenship may be prohibited under special cases. For instance, pursuant to the Constitution, RA 9225 requires that all those who are seeking elective public offices in the Philippines to execute a personal and sworn renunciation of any and all foreign citizenship to qualify them as candidates in the Philippine elections.
Meaning of Suffrage
Suffrage is the right and obligation to vote. It is a political right conferred by the Constitution empowering a citizen to participate in the process of government which makes the State truly democratic and republican. Section 1, Article V, however, provides that “suffrage may be exercised…” thus, making it non-mandatory. Failure to exercise such right is not punishable by law, but nonetheless makes a citizen irresponsible. In other words, suffrage is an obligation but a non-mandatory one.
When Suffrage may be Exercised
Suffrage is exercised not only during elections, but also during initiatives, referendums, plebiscite, and recalls. Election is the means by which the people choose their representatives who are entrusted the exercise of the powers of the government. Initiative is the means by which people directly propose and enact laws, that is, they initiate the law-making process. Referendum refers to process by which the people ratify or reject a law or part thereof referred or submitted to them by the national or local law-making body. Plebiscite entails a process by which the people either ratify or reject an amendment or revision to the Constitution. And recall is a mode of removing an incumbent official from office by a vote of the people upon proper registration of a petition signed by the required number of qualified voters. In all these instances, a qualified citizen can rightfully exercise suffrage.
Who may Exercise Suffrage
1. Qualified Citizens Only. Suffrage can be exercised only by a citizen of the Philippines, who has none of the disqualifications, at least eighteen years of age on the day of the election, and a resident of the Philippines for at least one year and of the place where he intends to vote for at least six months immediately preceding the election (Section 1, Article V). Suffrage is an attribute of citizenship, and therefore aliens cannot exercise the same.
2. Reason for Lowering the Voting Age. The voting age was lowered down from 21 to 18 years old to broaden the electoral base. If the voting age is 21, then only a small percentage of the total population of the Philippines can vote. Moreover, according to psychologists, 18 to 21 year-old Filipino youth, living in urban or rural areas, have the same political maturity. This is affirmed in many provisions of Philippine law, in that the marrying age, the age when someone can enter into a contract, and the age when someone can be called to defend the State, is 18 years old. It must be noted, however, “registration” may be done before reaching the age of majority for as long as the voter is 18 years old on the day of the election.
3. Explanation of Residency Requirement. A citizen, in order to be qualified to vote, must have resided in the Philippines for at least one year and for at least six months on the place where he intends to vote immediately preceding the elections. The “one year residency requirement” means “permanent residence” while the “six month residency requirement” means either “permanent or temporary residence.” On the on hand, permanent residence or domicile requires bodily presence in the locality, the intention to remain there (animus manendi), and an intention to return to it if one goes somewhere else (animus revertendi). If a new residence is established, permanent residence requires an intention not to return to the old domicile (animus non revertandi). For example, if a Filipino citizen works abroad to look for greener pastures, but still has the “intention to return” to the Philippines, he can still exercise his right to vote since his domicile is still in the Philippines. On the other hand, temporary residence only requires the intention to reside in a fixed place. To be familiar with the needs of the locality, a voter must reside therein for at least six months immediately preceding the elections. This is requirement for both national and local elections. In here, since residence can also mean temporary residence, one can vote in either his locality of permanent residence or locality of temporary residence during local or national elections. For example, Pedro is domiciled in Tuguegarao City and is a registered voter therein. But he is working in Manila for more than six months already, has established a temporary residence, and is likewise a registered voter there. Under the law, he can vote in Tuguegarao city since he is a permanent resident of the place or in Manila since he has a temporary residence there.
4. No Additional Substantive Requirement. Still in keeping with the trend for broadening electoral base, the Constitution does not provide for “literacy, property or other substantive requirements.” Rather it encourages the “participation” and “equalization” of the privileges and rights of the people. Being democratic and republican, the State endeavors for the establishment of a wide base of electoral involvement by the people, not only by the rich minority who joy the privilege of formal education, but also by the poor majority who are usually unlettered because of poverty. It must also be emphasize that there is no direct relationship between education or property, on the one hand, and capacity for intelligent voting, on the other, in that even a rich and highly educated person may initiate and be swayed by sham elections.
Because of the phenomenon of “Filipino labor explosion overseas,” the so-called “absentee voting system” is mandated by the Constitution to be provided for, or legislated, by the Congress. Section 2, Article V states, “The Congress shall provide… a system for absentee voting by qualified Filipinos abroad.” For as long as they are qualified, overseas Filipino workers can still participate in elections despite their temporary absence in the Philippines. While residency is a voting requirement, it must not be a reason for disenfranchising thousands of Filipinos abroad whose hearts are still with the Philippines.
Importance of Suffrage
As a final note, the importance of suffrage cannot be overemphasized as it is the bed rock of Philippine democracy and republicanism. Removed, then the Philippines is no longer democratic and republican. This is why the Constitution mandates the Congress “to provide a system for securing the secrecy and sanctity of the ballot.” The mandate becomes especially important now that the electoral base is broadened to include the illiterate and the disabled who are the usual prey of unscrupulous politicians. Thus, to secure the very essence of Philippine democracy and to protect the illiterates and disabled from being disenfranchised, the Constitution also provides that “The Congress shall also design a procedure for the disabled and the illiterates to vote without the assistance of other persons. Until then, they shall be allowed to vote under existing laws and such rules as the Commission on Elections may promulgate to protect the secrecy of the ballot.”