Centenarian Spanish priest gets ROC citizenship for services to Taiwan

Rev. Andres Diaz de Rabago of Spain, a 100-year-old member of the Society of Jesus and physician, was officially made a citizen of the Republic of China (Taiwan) April 13 in recognition of his services to Taiwan since 1969 as a medical educator, according to the Ministry of the Interior.

At the presentation ceremony in Taipei City, MOI Deputy Minister Chiu Chang-yeuh said Diaz de Rabago worked tirelessly to swell the ranks of Taiwan's doctors and improve patient-doctor relations. The reverend's efforts also serve to inspire the public to follow in his footsteps and initiate a cycle of good deeds, he added.

In response, Diaz de Rabago said it was an honor to receive such recognition and his first act as an ROC citizen would be to pray for the well-being of the people and Taiwan. Serving the public is a deeply enriching and rewarding experience on a personal level, he added.

Diaz de Rabago lectured in medical ethics during his 30-year career at National Taiwan University College of Medicine in Taipei and continued regularly visiting bedridden patients in hospital after retiring in 1999. He was awarded the ROC's Order of the Brilliant Star with a third rank for his long-term dedication to caring for patients in 2015.

Su Chi-meng, a section chief with the MOI's Department of Household Registration, said Diaz de Rabago is the fourth foreigner to be naturalized under recent amendments to the Nationality Act.

On Dec. 21, 2016, Articles 3, 4, 9, 11 and 19 of the Nationality Act were amended and promulgated enabling foreigners applying for naturalization to keep their original nationality if meeting a number of conditions. These include being high-level professionals in the art, cultural, economic, educational, sports, technological or other domains; possessing specialties in the interests of the ROC; and obtaining a recommendation from the relevant central authority.

The revisions are part of government efforts encouraging more foreign talents to live and work in Taiwan on an extended basis, as well as guarantee their rights.

U.S.-born Brendan O'Connell was the first foreigner to be naturalized and received the honor for spending more than 50 years in Taiwan improving education access and standards for mentally challenged children, as well as promoting early intervention in such cases. Barry Martinson, also from the U.S., worked for over 40 years in creating community-based employment opportunities for members of Taiwan's indigenous tribes around the country.

Yves Moal, a winner of the Presidential Culture Award in 2015, has been based for almost 50 years in eastern Taiwan's Hualien County. The Frenchman devoted the majority of his time to providing the economically disadvantaged and mentally challenged with employment skills.

Source: Taiwan Today