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Citizenship and Naturalization | Philippines |

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Citizenship and Naturalization

Michael R.M Abrigo

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Metal workers in Manila. (© picture-alliance/dpa)

Filipino citizenship is provided for in the country’s Constitution (in force since 1899), which has been amended a number of times in the last century (1935, 1973 and 1987). Congress has the power to strip a person of his Philippine citizenship without his voluntary renunciation as provided by law, unlike in the US, after which many provisions of the 1935 Philippine Constitution had been patterned.

Prior to the adoption of the 1935 Constitution, citizenship could be acquired on the basis of the place of birth (jus soli) or of blood relationship (jus sanguinis), as provided for in the 1899 Malolos Constitution. The principle of jus soli was abandoned in 1935, while applicable blood relationships have been modified in subsequent amendments. Natural-born citizens who have become citizens of other countries by naturalization may re-acquire Philippine citizenship through the country’s dual citizenship program as provided for in the "Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003" (RA 9225). Between April 2004, when the law was first implemented, and December 2012, a total of 106,393 persons have re-acquired Filipino citizenship with a large proportion residing in the Americas (77.5%), while the rest coming from Europe (17.1%), Asia and the Pacific (5.2%) and the Middle East and Africa (0.2%).

Philippine citizenship may likewise be acquired by naturalization. Under the "Revised Naturalization Law" (CA 437), a satisfactory level of integration in Philippine society and possession of good moral character are required to be eligible for judicial naturalization. Satisfactory integration requires that the applicant has resided continuously in the country for at least ten years, is able to speak and write English or Spanish, and any one of the Philippine languages, has enrolled his children in Philippine schools where Philippine history, government and civics is taught, and is the owner of real estate or has some known lucrative trade, profession or lawful occupation. The 10-year residency requirement may be reduced to five years under special circumstances. Under certain conditions, immigrants born and raised in the Philippines may be eligible for naturalization under the "Administrative Naturalization Law of 2000" (RA 9139), which provides for a facilitated naturalization procedure for foreign citizens that have lived in the Philippines since birth.



  1. See Commonwealth Act No. 63 "Providing for ways in which Philippine Citizenship may be lost or re-acquired".

  2. See Panopio (2005) for a discussion.

  3. Jus soli was applied under the US colonial government.

  4. See Panopio (2005) for discussion.


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Michael R.M. Abrigo is Research Specialist at the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS). The opinions expressed in this paper do not necessarily reflect those of the PIDS.
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