Pathway to Philippine citizenship

In my previous column, I wrote on the process of administrative naturalization. I now discuss the mode to enable foreigners to obtain Filipino citizenship through judicial process.

Under Commonwealth Act 473, otherwise known as the “Revised Naturalization Law” as amended, judicial naturalization may be filed by a foreigner applicant in the Regional Trial Court where the petitioner resided at least one year immediately preceding the filing of the petition.

To qualify, the petitioner must be at least 21 years old on the day of the hearing of the petition, not on the day of filing of the petition. The foreign applicant must have been legally admitted into the country either as immigrant or non-immigrant and resided in the Philippines for a continuous period of not less than 10 years. The period of residence is only five years if the applicant a) honorably held office under the Government of the Philippines; b) established a new industry or introduced a useful invention in the Philippines; c) is married to a Filipino woman; d) engaged as a teacher in the Philippines or e) was born in the Philippines.

During this period of residence, he must have conducted himself in a proper and irreproachable manner in his relation with the government and the community in which he resides.

The applicant must also be of good moral character and must believe in the principles of the Philippine Constitution. It is imperative that a foreigner applicant must adhere to the state principles and polices enunciated in Article 2 of the 1987 Constitution.

Additionally, he must show financial capacity such that the applicant must own a real estate in the Philippines, or must have a lucrative trade, profession or lawful occupation. He must also be able to speak English, Spanish or any of the principal Philippine languages. This is to prove that the foreigner is not a public charge and will not be a burden to the society.

Finally, he must have enrolled his minor children in schools where Philippine history, government and civics are part of the curriculum.

The petition for judicial naturalization is commenced by filing a Notice of Intent to acquire Philippine citizenship with the Office of the Solicitor General within one year prior to the filing of the petition. The Notice of Intent may be dispensed with, if the applicant was born or studied his primary and secondary education in the country or resided in the Philippines continuously for 30 years.

The petition for judicial naturalization at the Regional Trial Court must be accompanied by affidavits of two credible citizens of the Philippines personally known to the applicant. The petition will be published once a week for three consecutive weeks in the Official Gazette and a newspaper of general circulation where the petitioner resides.

The decision of the judge favorably granting the petition for judicial naturalization will be the basis for the acquisition of Philippine citizenship.

Pursuant however to Republic Act 530, “An Act Making Additional Provisions for Naturalization,” decisions granting the application for naturalization shall become executory only after two years from its promulgation and after finding by the court, upon proper hearing that the applicant during the two-year period has a) not left the Philippines; b) dedicated himself continuously to a lawful calling or profession; c) has not been convicted of any offense or violation of government promulgated rules and d) has not committed any act prejudicial to the interest of the nation or contrary to any government announced policies.
Once the decision becomes final and executory, the petitioner in open court must take an oath of allegiance to the Philippines and thereafter will be issued a certificate of naturalization by the clerk of court. The next column will conclude this three-part series on naturalization when I tackle the most expedient mode of acquiring Philippine citizenship-legislative naturalization.

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