SC: Dual citizens can’t run for elective posts
MANILA, Philippines—Filipinos with dual citizenship must first give up their foreign citizenship under oath before they can run for any elective post.
The Supreme Court issued the ruling on Friday as it upheld the Commission on Elections’ unseating of the Vice Mayor Teodora Sobejana-Condon of Caba, La Union for failing to renounce her Australian citizenship under oath as required by Republic Act No. 9225 or the Citizenship Retention and Re-Acquisition Act of 2003.
“Failure to renounce foreign citizenship in accordance with the exact tenor of Section 5 (2) of RA 9225 renders a dual citizen ineligible to run for and thus hold any elective public office,” the court en banc said in a 24-page decision penned by Justice Bienvenido Reyes.
The high court upheld the September 2011 ruling of the Comelec en banc, which in turn affirmed the October 2010 decision of the La Union regional trial court that nullified Condon’s victory in the 2010 polls.
Condon was disqualified for failure to renounce her Australian citizenship under oath, contrary to the exact mandate of Section 5 (2) that the renunciation of foreign citizenship must be sworn before a public officer authorized to administer oath.
Condon appealed the Comelec ruling to the Supreme Court in October last year. The high court, however, did not issue a temporary restraining order so she was replaced the following month as vice mayor by the town’s first councilor, Philip Caesar Crispino.
The justices said that Condon’s act of running for public office does not suffice to serve as an effective renunciation of her Australian citizenship. While the court has previously declared that the filing by a person with dual citizenship of a certificate of candidate is already considered a renunciation of foreign citizenship, such ruling was already adjudged superseded by the enactment of RA 9255 on August 29, 2003 which provides for the additional condition of a personal and sworn renunciation of foreign citizenship.
“The foreign citizenship must be formally rejected through an affidavit duly sworn before an officer authorized to administer oath,” the court said.
The justices said the fact that Condon won the elections cannot cure the defect of her candidacy since “garnering the most number of votes does not validate the election of a disqualified candidate because the application of the constitutional and statutory provisions on disqualification is not a matter of popularity.”
“[Condon] is 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 high court said.
Condon became a naturalized Australian citizen when she married Kevin Thomas Condon on Dec. 13, 1984.
On Dec. 2, 2005, she filed an application to re-acquire Philippine citizenship. She took her oath of allegiance to the Philippine state on Dec. 5, 2005
On Sept. 18, 2006, she filed an unsworn declaration of denunciation of Australian citizenship before the Department of Immigration and Indigenous Affairs in Canberra, which on Sept. 27, 2006 certified that she had ceased to be an Australian citizen.
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