Press Release
January 21, 2019

Syrian national, three others granted Phl citizenships

A Syrian national who has been cited for promoting and protecting the welfare and safety of overseas Filipino workers in the Syrian Arab Republic was granted Filipino citizenship by the Senate Monday, January 21.

The Senate approved on third and final reading House Bill No. 7206 bestowing Filipino citizenship to Mohamad Wassim Nanaa, who was appointed Philippine honorary consul general to Aleppo in 2011.

Nanaa helped repatriate OFWs during the 2011 civil war in Syria at the onset of the so-called Arab Spring - a series of uprisings that toppled Tunisia's and Egypt's presidents.

Then President Benigno S. Aquino III conferred the Order of Sikatuna (Grand Officer) on Nanaa 1n January, 2014 for protecting more than 1,000 OFWs in Syria.

During his first appointment on April 24, 2008 as Philippine honorary consul in Aleppo with jurisdiction in Idlib, Latakia, Ar-Raqqah and Tartus, Nanaa showed exceptional service in promoting Philippine-Syrian bilateral economic and cultural cooperation and in protecting the rights and interest of OFWs in his jurisdiction.

His appointive position is without financial compensation.

Nanaa, who graduated Bachelor of Laws in Beirut Arab University in Lebanon, is a successful businessman in Syria doing import-export business.

Also granted Philippine citizenships were Philippine-born Spanish Margarita Melian Ortigas, Chinese businessman Kitshon Soriano Kho and German philanthropist Hans Guenter Schoof.

Ortigas was born in Sta. Mesa, Manila to a Filipino woman Maria Natividad Aboitiz Ugarte and a Spanish father Leopoldo Melian y Zobel. In 1975, she married a Filipino lawyer Ignacio Ricardo Ortigas.

Kho, at 33, is the youngest among those granted Filipino citizenship.

Though a Chinese citizen owing to his birthplace, his grandfather is a Filipino who is based in Isabela.

President Rodrigo Duterte even conferred the Order of Lapu-Lapu to his father, Jose Kho, a Chinese billionaire who funded the construction of drug rehabilitation and treatment centers to help drug dependents in Visayas and Mindanao.

Schoof, a German businessman, was born in Wiesbaden, Germany in July, 1947 and settled to the Philippines in 1986.

As a lover of history of Jose Rizal, Schoof financed the renovation of the Rizal Park in Manila, co-published the only German translation of El Filibusterismo, and financed the erection of Rizal statue in Peru and in the provincial capital of Bohol.

Schoof and his Filipina wife settled in Baclayon, Bohol in 1995 where he established Peacock Garden Resort, recognized by TripAdvisor as the top 4 hotel in the Philippines.

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