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43,000 Filipinos get dual citizenship

MANILA Out of the millions of Filipinos who have become citizens of foreign countries, including the United States, only some 43,000 former citizens have opted to reacquire their Filipino citizenship in the past three years under the dual citizenship law, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) revealed.

Immigration Commissioner Marcelino Libanan said 28,400 applications for dual citizenship have been approved in various Philippine consulates abroad while some 14,479 were processed at the BI main office in Manila.

Former Filipinos who became American citizens topped the list of applicants whose dual citizenship were approved. Many Filipino-Canadians and Filipino-Australians have also reacquired Filipino citizenship.

As a result, these former Pinoys are again enjoying their rights and privileges as citizens of the Philippines,” stressed Libanan, a former congressman and one of the principal authors of Republic Act 9225 or the Citizenship Retention and Reacquisition Act.

It was in 2003 when Congress passed the act but the BI started processing applications only in April 2004 after Malacanang designated the bureau as the lead implementing agency of the law.

The dual citizenship law declares that former natural-born Filipinos who later became naturalized citizens of other countries have not lost their Philippine citizenship.

Libanan said the law was enacted in line with the thrust of President Arroyos administration to encourage former Filipinos who are now living abroad to return to the land of their birth and buy property or invest in business here.
Manuel Ferdinand Arbas, who heads the BI technical staff on dual citizenship, said his team receives an average of 15 applications for dual citizenship a day.

Arbas said there has been an upsurge in the number of applicants since the BI came out with new guidelines that eased the requirements for dual citizenship applications.

Under the revised rules, applicants for dual citizenship are no longer obliged to submit birth certificates from the National Statistics Office (NSO) to prove that they were former natural-born Filipinos.

Instead, an applicant may submit his birth certificates from the local civil registrars of his birth place and other documents, such as his old Philippine passport, voters affidavit, and marriage contract, proving that he is a former natural-born Filipino.

He said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) regularly transmits to the BI the list and records of approved dual citizenship applicants so that the latter may secure their identification certificates and leave their fingerprint files with the bureau once they visit the Philippines.

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