THE Supreme Court en banc has granted the petition of 74-year-old Filipino-American Walter Manuel Prescott to permanently release him from detention and declare him as a Filipino citizen.

The Public Attorney’s Office, which serves as Prescott’s principal counsel, hailed the high court’s recent decision.

Senior Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, in granting the petition, said that other than being born during the effectivity of different Constitutions – to which no fault can be imputed upon the person whose citizenship is being considered – there is no substantial distinction between those born to Filipino mothers under the 1935, 1973 and 1987 Constitution.

“There is no showing of a compelling state interest to justify a classification. Treating them differently in terms of conferring citizenship would be downright discriminatory.”

Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa, in voting for the petition, said the case of Prescott carves a special place in a case law as his peculiar and unique circumstances should be appreciated “in light of his unshakeable fealty and fidelity to the Philippines.”

“Despite respondents’ (in reference to the Department of Justice and Bureau of Immigration) vehement denial of his constitutional right to due process, he remains steadfast in his conviction that he is a Filipino.”

“Despite the hardships he has suffered while being detained and hospitalized, he remains hopeful that the highest court of the land will find the wisdom behind the technicality and elevate the essence of justice so that the spirit of the law may prevail,” Caguioa added.

PAO said that Prescott was not an overstaying and undocumented alien as claimed by immigration authorities that detained him in 2016 after then DOJ secretary and former senator Leila de Lima cancelled his Philippine passport based only on a deportation complaint by his American wife, Maria Lourdes Prescott, and her male companion, Jesse Troutman.

Born in April 10, 1950, Prescott spent his entire life (short of two years) living as a Filipino and when he became an adult, he never left the Philippines that cost him his American citizenship.

Moreover, PAO said Prescott’s desire to live the rest of his days in his motherland and to be buried beside his Filipino mother and American father here in the Philippines signifies his Filipino blood, mind and heart.