I have no issues with the citizenship provisions in the 1987 constitution. Save for one though. Right in Article II, section 2 which reads:
Natural-born citizens are those who are citizens of the Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their Philippine citizenship. Those who elect Philippine citizenship in accordance with paragraph (3), Section 1 hereof shall be deemed natural-born citizens.
And that paragraph (3), section 1 states that “those born before January 17, 1973, of Filipino mothers, who elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority” are considered Filipino citizens.
A peculiar qualification
Now the question a layperson may have in mind is…why is there a need to define what is a natural-born citizen? Is it a matter of great importance as to how one became a citizen? Now for many of us, that is irrelevant and it may seem that it is a pointless trivia being added on an already long constitution.
But in reality, in the context of the 1987 constitution, putting in such a definition is of absolute importance.
You see if you look throughout this constitution and read all the qualifications imposed for all government officials, elected or appointed, there is one constant: being natural-born. Whether it’s for the President or for a commissioner of the Civil Service Commission, you need to be natural-born to qualify.
Background and justification
The idea of the “natural-born” requirement for government officials goes all the way back to the 1935 constitution, but interestingly this requirement was only imposed for the president. Other positions only required a number of years as citizen to qualify as far as citizenship is concerned. It was the 2nd constitution in 1973 that further imposed the natural-born qualification to all other offices in government which the 1987 one continued to do.
As for the reason behind the qualification, the truth is, it all boils down to the innate “xenophobia” of “foreigners” running things in the country, Let’s face it, in many cases, “naturalized” citizens are seen by many as foreigners (except if you look Filipino in which people will love to claim you as one of their own even if you don’t even hold Filipino citizenship). For many, they have this innate fear that they may be secretly serving their foreign overlords or trying to facilitate the country’s colonization or something to that effect.
A narrow-minded view
While I very much understand this concern regarding “foreigners”, it has to be said also…this is not right. It is not right to condemn all for the faults of the few. And it is stupid to deny those who are willing to serve the people just because some of us have this stupid, myopic, and narrow-minded view of being Filipino.
And in the context of this “natural-born” requirement…I have to say, this is outright discrimination. One that violates the spirit of human rights which never looks at how you became a citizen (what say you, Commission on Human Rights?). What is with natural-born citizens that they can do better than the naturalized ones as far as government service concerned. Both can deliver quality service or can be corrupt as hell. This discrimination is all so silly, really.
Why should we even care in the first place how one became a Filipino citizen? The important thing is, you’re a Filipino citizen and you are qualified to possibly serve in government. Of course, we can still impose residency, age, or literacy requirements, as well as other necessary requirements for a given role in government. But manner of citizenship? It makes no sense whatsoever.
We live in a global community that has become smaller thanks to technology and travel making the world more accessible than ever. No matter what the leftists and communists say, it is a fact and a reality that we cannot escape from.
In the midst of this globalized setting, we should not limit ourselves to the traditional notion of being Filipino that ignores the present realities of this world. If we aim to become better as a country and as a people, we should broaden our horizons and be more welcoming than ever to those who wish to contribute to our betterment and intent on becoming one of us, natural-born or otherwise.