Petitioner Joevanie Tabasa was a natural-born citizen of the Philippines. When he was seven years old, petitioner acquired American citizenship after his father became a naturalized citizen of the United States.
When Petitioner came to the Philippines as a “balikbayan”, he was arrested and detained by an agent of the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation (BID) and thereafter, investigated. It was found out as reported by the US embassy that petitioner’s passport has been revoked because he is the subject of an outstanding federal warrant of arrest. He was subsequently ordered to be deported back to the US.
Petitioner filed a Supplemental Petition alleging that he had acquired Filipino citizenship by repatriation in accordance with Republic Act No. 8171 (RA 8171), and that because he is now a Filipino citizen, he cannot be deported or detained by the respondent Bureau.
Does petitioner Tabasa qualify as a natural-born Filipino who had lost his Philippine citizenship by reason of political or economic necessity under RA 8171?
He does not. In the case at bar, there is no dispute that petitioner was a Filipino at birth and that he acquired American citizenship when he was still a minor. He cannot claim that he is entitled to automatic repatriation as a child of natural-born Filipinos who left the country due to political or economic necessity.
Persons qualified for repatriation under RA 8171
To reiterate, the only persons entitled to repatriation under RA 8171 are the following:
a. Filipino women who lost their Philippine citizenship by marriage to aliens; and
b. Natural-born Filipinos including their minor children who lost their Philippine citizenship on account of political or economic necessity.
Clearly, he lost his Philippine citizenship by operation of law and not due to political or economic exigencies. It was his father who could have been motivated by economic or political reasons in deciding to apply for naturalization. The decision was his parent’s and not his. The privilege of repatriation under RA 8171 is extended directly to the natural-born Filipinos who could prove that they acquired citizenship of a foreign country due to political and economic reasons, and extended indirectly to the minor children at the time of repatriation.