Saturday, September 26, 2015

67. The Politics of Exclusion

The bloodline school of determining nationality is no doubt akin to the Divine Right paradigm of power. I imagine, however, that there is nothing fundamentally and biologically different in the blood of citizens of different countries. For that reason, this country has outlawed the Divine Right paradigm, and we elect our leaders by popular election, never mind if their bloodline is tainted by the blood of plunderers or dictators. Yet, in spite of the obvious fact that human blood is all the same, our Constitution has adopted the bloodline school in excluding the non-Filipinos from the real ones. Thus, you're a Filipino if your father or mother is a Filipino. The worse anomaly that can happen to you is if you're born here of foreign parents, because you follow the citizenship laws of your parents; but if your parents' nationalities adopt the place of birth school of thought, then you're neither a Filipino nor a citizen of your country's parents. This makes you stateless. I suspect that this is not an accident of history; our forefathers have envisioned the bloodline theory of nationality to exclude the foreigners and deny them the right to own land and exploit the country's natural resources. In 1954, seeing that the foreigners have dominated the retail trade, Congress passed the Retail Trade Nationalization Law, which would prohibit foreigners from owning not a single percent of interest in any retail trade business. This would be relaxed in the Estrada era with the passage of the Retail Trade Liberalization Law. But the politics of exclusion at the core of the bloodline school is clear. The occasion to revisit this principle of citizenship under the Constitution may never come, but the underlying assumptions that made us impose this on ourselves are outdated. People born in the Philippines should be Filipinos. People born in other countries of at least one Filipino parent should also be Filipinos. Excluding those of foreign blood, even if they were born here, also excludes the country from the benefit of their skills and talents. It works both ways. In the end, the wider we keep our gates to allow more Filipino citizens gives us more chances of getting good ones. And the bad ones, hopefully don't get elected, but sent to jail.

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