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Mar 30, 2009

G.R. No. 135083, May 26, 1999

  • Dual allegiance. vs. Dual citizenship
  • Effect of filing certificate of candidacy: repudiation of other citizenship

Manzano and Mercado are vice-mayoral candidates Makati City in the May 11, 1998 elections. Manzano got the highest number votes while Mercado bagged the second place. However, Manzano’s proclamation was suspended in view of a pending petition for disqualification on the ground that he is an American citizen.

In his answer, Manzano admitted that he is registered as a foreigner with the Bureau of Immigration and alleged that he is a Filipino citizen because he was born in 1955 of a Filipino father and a Filipino mother. He was born in the United States (San Francisco, CA) on Sept. 14, 1955 and is considered an American citizen under US laws (jus soli). But notwithstanding his registration as an American citizen, he did not lose his Filipino citizenship.

The Second Division of the COMELEC granted the petition and cancelled Manzano’s certificate of candidacy on the ground that he is a dual citizen. Under the Local Government Code (sec. 40), dual citizens are disqualified from running for any position.

The COMELEC en banc reversed the division’s ruling. In its resolution, it said that Manzano was both a US citizen and a Filipino citizen. It further ruled that although he was registered as an alien with the Philippine Bureau of Immigration and was using an American passport, this did not result in the loss of his Philippine citizenship, as he did not renounce Philippine citizenship and did not take an oath of allegiance to the US. Moreover, the COMELEC found that when respondent attained the age of majority, he registered himself as a Philippine voter and voted as such, which effectively renounced his US citizenship under American law. Under Philippine law, he no longer had US citizenship.

Hence, this petition for certiorari.

  • Whether or not Manzano was no longer a US citizen
  • Whether or not Manzano is qualified to run for and hold elective office



Dual Citizenship vs. Dual Allegiance

To begin with, dual citizenship is different from dual allegiance. The former arises when, as a result of the concurrent application of the different laws of two or more states, a person is simultaneously considered a national by the said states. For instance, such a situation may arise when a person whose parents are citizens of a state which adheres to the principle of jus sanguinis is born in a state which follows the doctrine of jus soli. Such a person, ipso facto and without any voluntary act on his part, is concurrently considered a citizen of both states. Considering the citizenship clause (Art. IV) of our Constitution, it is possible for the following classes of citizens of the Philippines to possess dual citizenship:

  1. Those born of Filipino fathers and/or mothers in foreign countries which follow the principle of jus soli;
  2. Those born in the Philippines of Filipino mothers and alien fathers if by the laws of their fathers’ country such children are citizens of that country;
  3. Those who marry aliens if by the laws of the latter’s country the former are considered citizens, unless by their act or omission they are deemed to have renounced Philippine citizenship.

There may be other situations in which a citizen of the Philippines may, without performing any act, be also a citizen of another state; but the above cases are clearly possible given the constitutional provisions on citizenship.

Dual allegiance, on the other hand, refers to the situation in which a person simultaneously owes, by some positive act, loyalty to two or more states. While dual citizenship is involuntary, dual allegiance is the result of an individual’s volition.

LGC prohibits “Dual Allegiance” not “Dual Citizenship”

The phrase “dual citizenship” in the LGC must be understood as referring to “dual allegiance.” Consequently, persons with mere dual citizenship do not fall under this disqualification. Unlike those with dual allegiance, who must, therefore, be subject to strict process with respect to the termination of their status, for candidates with dual citizenship, it would suffice if, upon the filing of their certificates of candidacy, they elect Philippine citizenship to terminate their status as persons with dual citizenship considering that their condition is the unavoidable consequence of conflicting laws of different states.

By Electing Philippine Citizenship, the Candidate forswear Allegiance to the Other Country

By electing Philippine citizenship, such candidates at the same time forswear allegiance to the other country of which they are also citizens and thereby terminate their status as dual citizens. It may be that, from the point of view of the foreign state and of its laws, such an individual has not effectively renounced his foreign citizenship. That is of no moment.


The COMELEC en banc’s ruling was that Manzano’s act of registering himself as a voter was an effective renunciation of his American citizenship. This ruling is in line with the US Immigration and Nationality Act wherein it is provided that “a person who is a national of the United States, whether by birth or naturalization, shall lose his nationality by: (e) Voting in a political election in a foreign state or participating in an election or plebiscite to determine the sovereignty over foreign territory.” But this provision was declared unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court. Nevertheless, our SC held that by filing a certificate of candidacy when he ran for his present post, private respondent elected Philippine citizenship and in effect renounced his American citizenship.

To recapitulate, by declaring in his certificate of candidacy that he is a Filipino citizen; that he is not a permanent resident or immigrant of another country; that he will defend and support the Constitution of the Philippines and bear true faith and allegiance thereto and that he does so without mental reservation, private respondent has, as far as the laws of this country are concerned, effectively repudiated his American citizenship and anything which he may have said before as a dual citizen.

On the other hand, private respondent’s oath of allegiance to the Philippines, when considered with the fact that he has spent his youth and adulthood, received his education, practiced his profession as an artist, and taken part in past elections in this country, leaves no doubt of his election of Philippine citizenship.

His declarations will be taken upon the faith that he will fulfil his undertaking made under oath. Should he betray that trust, there are enough sanctions for declaring the loss of his Philippine citizenship through expatriation in appropriate proceedings. In Yu v. Defensor-Santiago, we sustained the denial of entry into the country of petitioner on the ground that, after taking his oath as a naturalized citizen, he applied for the renewal of his Portuguese passport and declared in commercial documents executed abroad that he was a Portuguese national. A similar sanction can be taken against any one who, in electing Philippine citizenship, renounces his foreign nationality, but subsequently does some act constituting renunciation of his Philippine citizenship.


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