A bicameral conference committee approved Monday night the final version of the dual citizenship bill with the conferees including a provision that reacquisition of Philippine citizenship shall be made only upon taking an oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines.

It was learned that the Senate and House panels deemed it proper to include the oath of allegiance in the bill as a precondition for granting dual citizenship privileges to former Filipinos.

The bill, which seeks to restore Philippine citizenship to former natural-born Filipinos who have embraced foreign citizenship, is expected to be ratified by the two chambers of Congress this week, after which it would be submitted for signing into law by the President next week.

The Senate-House of Representatives joint panel had approved a reconciled version of the Citizenship Retention and Reacquisition Act of 2003, with a view to benefiting millions of former Filipino citizens who have become citizens of other countries, Senate President Franklin Drilon explained on Tuesday.

Reconciled were Senate Bill 2130, which was approved late last year and House Bill 4720 which was approved last June.

Having principally sponsored the bill in the Senate, Drilon steered the passage of the measure with the help of House Speaker Jose de Venecia who pushed for its approval in the House.

The bill restores Philippine citizenship to former natural-born Filipinos who have embraced foreign citizenship out of necessity, mostly due to legal requirements of host countries, Drilon said.

Income earned by Filipinos abroad, including those who are considered as dual citizens, are exempt from income taxes.

Drilon claimed the bill would bring in huge equity investments from Filipino-Americans who would be encouraged to return to the Philippines either to invest their money and expertise or eventually settle down here.

In the United States alone, close to a million Filipinos would benefit from the bill. The much-abbreviated version of the bill that the bicameral panel approved amended the oath of allegiance taken from a Commonwealth Act by removing the requirement that the person concerned renounce his or her present foreign citizenship. Instead, the law would leave it to foreign courts to determine what to do with the foreign citizenship of the Filipino who took the pledge of allegiance.

Persons with dual citizenship who run for public office must renounce their foreign citizenship.

Although the bill is silent, the Department of Justice is tasked to draw up the implementing rules to ascertain the authenticity of the oath of allegiance taken by Filipinos to reacquire their Filipino citizenship; as well as the procedures for determining whether or not persons absolutely disqualified have been so excluded, i.e., deserters, persons convicted of felonies punishable by more than a years imprisonment.

The bill seeks to revise the 67-year-old law on Philippine citizenship, which provides that natural-born Filipinos who become naturalized citizens of another country automatically lose their Philippine citizenship.


Bron : DD

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