On due process, deportation proceedings, and implied election of Filipino citizenship

By Atty. Eduardo T. Reyes III

The Philippines’ “Mabuhay!” tag line is both apt and catchy as it evokes how warm and sincere Filipinos are in welcoming and hosting their guests especially from foreign countries.

But when foreign guests turn “undesirable,” then the Bureau of Immigration is on-guard to flush them out, bring the proper charges, and deport them if the circumstances warrant.

Once a formal charge is lodged against a visiting alien, is it necessary that a trial-type proceedings be conducted, just like in the courtroom?

In Andre Charles Nagel v. The Board of Commissioners, Bureau of Immigration, G.R. No. 244737, which came down on October 23, 2023, the essence of due process in administrative proceedings like deportation was explained:  

Anent the second circumstance, it is well to reiterate that deportation proceedings are administrative in character, summary in nature, and need not be conducted strictly in accordance with the rules of ordinary court proceedings. The essence of due process is simply an opportunity to be heard, or as applied to administrative proceedings, an opportunity to explain one’s side or an opportunity to seek reconsideration of the action or ruling complained of. As long as the parties are given the opportunity to be heard before judgment is rendered, the demands of due process are sufficiently met. Here, Nagel has participated in every aspect of the proceedings: he submitted a Counter-Affidavit to the Affidavit-Complaint filed by Duenas; he submitted his memorandum to the charge sheet; he was able to file a motion for reconsideration from the BOC-BI’s resolution. Hence, he was not deprived of due process.”

Interestingly, in Nagel, the charge against him relates to him entering into a string of marriages with different Filipino women. This became the basis for the formal charge of being an “undesirable alien” who must be subjected to deportation proceedings.  

Yet two (2) months after the ruling in Nagel, the Supreme Court in the en banc case of

Walter Manuel F. Prescott v. Bureau of Immigration, as represented by Hon. Rogelio D. Gevero, Jr. and the Department of Justice, G.R. No. 262938, December 5, 2023, illumined on the following legal matters:

1)      When notices to the respondent-alien were returned unserved either because he or she is out of the country or “whereabouts unknown,” then the proceedings for deportation and eventual warrant of deportation are void;

2)      While it is true that during minority, a child born to an American father and Filipino mother, is considered an American, yet, upon reaching the age of majority, the child can elect Filipino citizenship by taking an oath of allegiance

3)     Electing Filipino citizenship can be done expressly by undergoing a formal ceremony where the oath of allegiance will be administered

4)     But the election of Filipino citizenship can also be done implicitly through one’s actions.

In the case of Walter Manuel F. Prescott, the following significant circumstances were considered: (1) he was born and grew up in the Philippines where he has imbibed its culture and values even if he eventually worked in the US; (2) he stated “Filipino” as his citizenship in his certificate of marriage; (3) he wrote “Filipino” in the entry of father in his child’s certificate of birth; and, (4) even after he became a naturalized American citizen, he has always considered himself as a “Balikbayan.”

Thus, according to the Supreme Court, Walter Manuel F. Prescott has impliedly elected Filipino citizenship which retroacts to the date of his birth on April 10, 1950. He is therefore a natural-born Filipino who deserves to stay in the Philippines which is his home.

He must not be deported.

                (The author is the senior partner of ET Reyes III & Associates– a law firm based in Iloilo City. He is a litigation attorney, a law professor, MCLE lecturer, bar reviewer and a book author. His website is etriiilaw.com).


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