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Thursday, August 5, 2021

Citizenship law: The child of a Filipino is a Filipino, regardless of place of birth

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Anthony Mandap | Consular Bulletin
ANTHONY MANDAP is the Philippine Deputy Consul General in Melbourne. He was Deputy Consul General in Vancouver. Anton also worked as a journalist in Malaya and the now-defunct Times Journal. He was also Consul in Caracas, San Francisco and Venezuela. He is a product of the University of the Philippines for his journalism and law degrees.

In the course of our consular work, we frequently encounter passport applicants tagging along their minor children, either of mixed race or full Filipino blood. When asked whether their children have been issued Philippine passports, it is not uncommon for them to respond, “Ay hindi na po, kasi Australian.” (“No need, because the child is Australian”). 

There is nothing inaccurate or untrue about this statement if the child was born in Australia to a foreign permanent resident, or if the other parent is a citizen of Australia. But that is telling only half of the story. The fact is that the child is also a citizen of the Philippines, because at least one parent (the passport applicant) is a citizen of the Philippines. 

Philippine law broadly adheres to the jus sanguinis doctrine of citizenship, literally meaning citizenship is inherited by blood (in contrast to jus soli, literally, “right of the soil”, whereby citizenship is determined by the country of birth). Hence, the child of a Filipino is also a Filipino – yes, regardless of where the child is born, whether one parent is non-Filipino, or whether the country of birth considers the child their own citizen (such as Australia, with respect to children of foreign permanent residents). 

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), which also functions as the Office of the Civil Registrar General, has said it is the duty of every Filipino parent to immediately report the birth of their children – in the Philippines or overseas – as this is a recordable vital event. 

This is the reason Philippine embassies and consulates receive and process Reports of Birth (ROB), the mechanism by which the birth of a Filipino child is recorded in the PSA. The ROB itself, when it reaches the PSA, becomes the child’s Philippine birth certificate. The ROB also forms the documentary basis for the issuance of a Philippine passport to the child. 

A delay in submitting the ROB of more than one year will incur a “penalty” – an affidavit of the parent explaining why the reporting was delayed, which affidavit needs to be consularised at an additional cost of AUD45. It is not, strictly speaking, a penalty, but parents would do well to avoid it so as not to delay the enjoyment by the child of the benefits of Philippine citizenship. 

There could arise many questions in the application of these rules and principles. So again, we address these issues in question-and-answer format:

I am a Filipino permanent resident of Australia married to another Filipino permanent resident. I gave birth to our child in Victoria, which makes our child an Australian citizen under Australian law. Do I need to report the child’s birth to the Philippine Consulate? 

Yes, because the child is a citizen of the Philippines, having been born to Filipino parents. The child is a dual citizen at birth if both countries consider him/her their citizen. 

The ROB is the important first step for the child to avail himself/herself of the benefits of Philippine citizenship, such as issuance of a Philippine passport, visa-free entry and indefinite stay in the Philippines, etc. This is particularly important nowadays, when travel restrictions on non-citizens are in place. 

Will the child lose his/her Philippine citizenship if or when the parents become naturalised Australian citizens?

No. The parents’ naturalisation will not cause the child to lose Philippine citizenship. Acquisition of foreign citizenship by one’s parents is not one of the grounds or methods enumerated by law whereby Philippine citizenship is lost.

It is, of course, no longer necessary for the child to be naturalised as an Australian citizen because he/she is already one. 

I am Filipino permanent resident in Australia married to an Australian citizen. I gave birth to a “mestizo” baby boy in Victoria. Do I need to file an ROB for the child?

Yes, for the same reasons stated in the first answer. It makes no difference if the father is Australian or if the child was born in Australia. It is sufficient for the child to have one Filipino parent to be a citizen of the Philippines. The Philippine Constitution defines citizens of the Philippines as “those whose fathers or mothers are citizens of the Philippines.” 

The child is, again, a dual citizen at birth if Australia recognises him/her as an Australian citizen.

Does the child need to perform anything else to complete or perfect his/her Philippine citizenship? 

No. The child is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines. A natural-born citizen of the Philippines need not perform any act to complete or perfect his/her Philippine citizenship. In fact, even the ROB is not a legal requirement for the child to acquire Philippine citizenship, because Philippine citizenship in this case happens as a consequence of birth, not by any legal act performed by the child or the parents. 

The ROB is important, however, for recording the birth in the Philippine civil registry. 

Doesn’t the child need to apply for dual citizenship under the dual citizenship law or Republic Act 9225? 

No. As previously pointed out, the child is already a dual citizen at birth if both countries recognise him/her as their citizen. 

What are the requirements for ROB? 

For children born in our Consulate’s jurisdiction (Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania) the complete requirements may be accessed at our official website, https://melbournepcg.dfa.gov.ph.

As mentioned, an Affidavit of Late Registration of Birth is required, and additional AUD45 for consularisation, if reporting is done at least one year after the child’s birth. Likewise, additional requirements apply in the case of illegitimate or legitimated children. 

All payments sent by mail should be in the form of a postal money order or bank cheque payable to the Philippine Consulate General, Melbourne. This is to avoid loss or theft of cash payment sent by mail. 

Forms, additional requirements (if applicable) and other information may be accessed at this website: https://melbournepcg.dfa.gov.ph.

Mailed-in applications must be sent to this address: Philippine Consulate General, Level 10, 257 Collins Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000

Finally, in-person applicants are required to book an appointment ahead through the following link: https://appointment.melbournepcg.org

Does the child become eligible for issuance of a Philippine passport once the ROB is filed?

Yes, the child immediately becomes eligible to apply for a Philippine passport. However, in view of the high volume of applications at this time, a separate appointment has to be made for passport application. 

Why is it important to report the birth of a Filipino child abroad?

First of all, this is a requirement under the Philippine Civil Registration Act. It is a Filipino child’s birth right to be regarded as a Filipino and be embraced by his/her country of nationality, even though he/she may also be regarded as a citizen of another country simultaneously.  

Second, Filipino children born in countries which confer citizenship via jus soli (or Australia, with respect to children of permanent residents), are instantly placed in an advantageous position of having dual citizenship. There are clear and practical advantages in having dual or more citizenships during these times, among them the right to travel to the Philippines during the pandemic. Failure to report the birth of your child effectively deprives him/her of the enjoyment of such benefits and of future opportunities that may arise out of having dual citizenship. 

For more information on this, please email the Philippine Consulate General in Melbourne at Melbourne.pcg@dfa.gov.ph. 

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