Filipinos who hold dual citizenships cannot hold public office unless they formally renounce their foreign citizenship, according to a recent Supreme Court decision.
In a decision penned by Justice Bienvenido Reyes, which the SC affirmed en banc, the Court said failure to renounce foreign citizenship as required by the Citizenship Retention and Re-Acquisition Act of 2003 means a candidate will be disqualified from running for and holding elective positions.
Under the law, prospective candidates with dual citizenships must "at the time of the filing of the certificate of candidacy, make a personal and sworn renunciation of any and all foreign citizenship before any public officer authorized to administer an oath." They must also renounce their oath of allegiance to the foreign country where they are citizens.
"The language of the provision is plain and unambiguous. It expresses a single, definite, and sensible meaning and must thus be read literally. The foreign citizenship must be formally rejected through an affidavit duly sworn before an officer authorized to administer oath," the Court said.
This was prompted by a petition filed by Teodora Sobejana-Condon, who won as vice mayor of Caba, La Union in the 2010 elections while being a naturalized Australian citizen. The Regional Trial Court disqualified her after private respondents questioned her eligibility. The Commission on Elections upheld the court's decision and ordered the disqualification.
Sobejana-Condon applied to re-acquire her Philippine citizenship in 2005 and she took her oath of allegiance in 2005. She also filed an unsworn Declaration of Renunciation of Australian Citizenship before the Australian Department of Immigration and Indigenous Affairs and she ceased to be a citizen in 2006.
This was not enough for the Supreme Court, whom Sobejana-Condon petitioned to review the RTC's decision, however. It said that Sobejana-Condon has "yet to regain her political right to seek elective office."
"Unless she executes a sworn renunciation of her Australian citizenship, she is ineligible to run for and hold any elective office in the Philippines," the Court said in Sobejana-Condon v. Comelec.
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