01/28/2009 [ tribune.net.ph ]
More than 60,000 former Filipinos have already reacquired their Philippine citizenship under the so-called dual citizenship law that Congress passed a few years ago, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said yesterday.
Immigration Commissioner Marcelino Libanan disclosed that as of Dec. 31, 2008, a total of 60,209 individuals have been granted dual citizenship under Republic Act 9225, or the Citizenship Retention and Reacquisition Act of 2003.
Libanan said 23,196 of the applicants were approved at the BI main office in Manila while 37,013 of them were processed at the various Philippine consulates abroad.
It was in 2003 that Congress passed the Act but the BI started implementing it in April 2004 after President Arroyo designated the bureau as the lead implementing agency for the law.
Under the Act, former natural born Filipinos who were naturalized as citizens of other countries are deemed not to have lost their Philippine citizenship.
Libanan, a former Eastern Samar congressman and one of the principal authors of the Act, urged other former Filipinos who have settled abroad to avail themselves of the program so they may again enjoy their rights and privileges of Filipinos.
Among these rights, he said, are the rights to hold a Philippine passport, the rights to vote and own real properties here.
“And unlike before when they always had to extend or update their stay as tourists, they may now visit and stay in the Philippines anytime and for as long as they wish,” Libanan added.
Lawyer Arvin Santos, who heads the BI task force on dual citizenship, said Americans topped the list of the approved applicants, followed by Canadians.
Santos said Americans account for more than 40,000 of the applicants, adding that most of them had filed their applications with five Philippine consulates in the United States, particularly those in Washington D.C., San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Hawaii.
To apply for dual citizenship, an applicant pays only a fee of P3,000 and his papers are immediately processed and approved if all documentary requirements are submitted.
Libanan created last July an eight-man task force of BI legal officers to expedite the processing and approval of dual citizenship applications. Conrado Ching