• Lawyer who reacquires PH citizenship can practice here again

    Persida Acosta

    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    My fiancé passed the Philippine Law Bar Examinations 14 years ago. He was only able to practice here for one year, because his aunt petitioned him to migrate to the US. He eventually became an American citizen but he applied for dual citizenship, because he always felt that this is where he really belongs. He is now planning to come back to pursue his law practice and serve the less fortunate people of our country. He just wants to know if it is still possible for him to resume his law practice here. Any advice will be deeply appreciated.
    Sunrise Chaser

    Dear Sunrise Chaser,
    Section 1, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court provides the necessary criterion for the practice of law in our jurisdiction. It is explicitly stated therein: “Any person heretofore duly admitted as a member of the Bar, or thereafter admitted as such in accordance with the provisions of this rule, and who is in good and regular standing, is entitled to practice law.”

    The foregoing provision speaks of two aspects: first, one’s lawful admission to the Bar; and second, being able to maintain good and regular member standing.

    In the situation you have presented, it appears that your fiancé has complied with the first aspect considering that, as you have mentioned, he has already passed the Philippine Law Bar Examinations and has even had the opportunity to practice the profession, although it was only for a brief period as he migrated to the United States of America.

    Insofar as the second aspect is concerned, it is essential for him to establish that he has reacquired his Philippine citizenship pursuant to the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 9225 (Citizenship Retention and Re-Acquisition Act of 2003). This is so because a Filipino citizen who lost his citizenship by the acquisition of foreign citizenship also loses the privilege to practice law as Philippine citizenship is a continuing requirement thereto. The only exception is when he reacquires his Philippine citizenship pursuant to RA 9225.

    It is further required, however, that he secure first an authority to resume practice of law from the Supreme Court, through the Office of the Bar Confidant. As held by the Supreme Court:

    “x x x Therefore, a Filipino lawyer who becomes a citizen of another country is deemed never to have lost his Philippine citizenship if he reacquires it in accordance with RA 9225. Although he is also deemed never to have terminated his membership in the Philippine Bar, no automatic right to resume law practice accrues.

    x x x Stated otherwise, before a lawyer who reacquires Filipino citizenship pursuant to RA 9225 can resume his law practice, he must first secure from this court the authority to do so, x x x” (Petition for Leave to Resume Practice of Law, Benjamin Dacanay, Petitioner, B.M. No. 1678, December 17, 2007)

    We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.

    Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net


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