Let Grace Poe Run

by Joseph G. Lariosa

“In applying election laws, it would be far better to err in favor of  popular sovereignty than to be right in complex but little understood legalisms.”

— Philippine Supreme Court (Frivaldo v. Comelec & Raul Lee case [G.R. No. 120295. June 28, 1996])

CHICAGO (JGL) – When Sen. Grace Poe used her United States passport even while her petition for repatriation was pending approval between 2006 and 2010, there was nothing wrong with its use because her U.S. passport was still valid when she used it five times.

After she renounced her U.S. citizenship before a U.S. consul in Manila on July 12, 2011, the approval of her certificate of “loss of nationality” came only on Dec. 9, 2011. That’s why when she used her U.S. passport between 2006 and 2010, her U.S. passport was very much valid even after she renounced her U.S. citizenship before a Philippine notary public on Oct. 6, 2010 or before the Philippine Bureau of Immigration on July 18, 2006 because these records are not shared with the U.S. Department of State.

Her possession of a U.S. passport became one of the bases of the First Division of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to disqualify and cancel her certificate of candidacy (COC) for Philippine president on the May 9, 2016 elections.

But did Poe lose her Philippine citizenship after her marriage to a Filipino-American dual citizen in the Philippines? This matter will be resolved by the Philippine Supreme Court after it holds an oral argument on Jan. 9, 2016.

At the same time, the following issues are also up for resolution:

–       Is Poe, as a foundling, a natural-born Filipino citizen or a naturalized Filipino citizen?

–       Does Poe lack the ten-year residency requirement prior to the May 9, 2016 elections? And

–       Did Poe commit perjury when she submitted “material misrepresentation” in her COC when she declared that she has been a resident of the Philippines for a period of ten years and 11 months as of May 9, 2016 elections, which conflicted with her previous declaration of being short of five months and 13 days?

DID POE GIVE UP HER PH CITIZENSHIP?

When Poe married a Filipino American dual citizen in 1991 in the Philippines, did she give up her Filipino citizen?

For me, I don’t think so. After she married Teodoro Misael Daniel “Neil” V. Llamanzares, she did not take another step to renounce her Filipino citizenship. After their marriage in 1991 in the Philippines, they left for the U.S. to start a family.

In 2001, by reason of “necessity,” she  obtained a U.S. passport and swore allegiance to the United States. But she did not renounce her Filipino citizenship in the process either.

If we look at the case of “Vance v. Terrazas, 444 U.S. 252 (1980), in repatriation cases, it says, an “American cannot have his U.S. citizenship taken away against his will. Intent to give up citizenship needs to be established by itself and cannot be irrebuttably presumed merely because a person did something established by law an action automatically causing loss of citizenship. However, Congress has power to decide that an intent to give up citizenship may be established by preponderance of evidence.”

Even granting without admitting that  Poe divested herself of her Filipino citizenship when she obtained her U.S. passport, the passage of Republic Act No. 9225 cured her predicament. Its “Section 3. Retention of Philippine Citizenship” is very clear when it says, “Any provision of law to the contrary notwithstanding, natural-born citizenship by reason of their naturalization as citizens of a foreign country are hereby deemed to have re-acquired Philippine citizenship upon taking the oath of allegiance to the Republic (of the Philippines).” Poe swore her allegiance back to the Philippines before Philippine Bureau of Immigration on July 7, 2006.

On July 18, 2006, the Bureau of Immigration restored her Filipino citizenship along with her three children, who were all born in the Philippines.

EXPATRIATION IS A NATURAL, INHERENT RIGHT

On July 27, 1868, the day before the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted, U.S. Congress declared in the preamble of the Expatriation Act that “the right of expatriation is a natural and inherent right of all people, indispensable to the enjoyment of the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” and (Section I) one of “the fundamental principles of this government” (United States Revised Statutes, sec. 1999).

“Every natural-born citizen of a foreign state who is also an American citizen and every natural-born American citizen who is a citizen of a foreign land owes a double allegiance, one to the United States, and one to his homeland (in the event of an immigrant becoming a citizen of the US), or to his adopted land (in the event of an emigrant natural born citizen of the US becoming a citizen of another nation).

“If these allegiances come into conflict, he or she may be guilty of treason against one or both. If the demands of these two sovereigns upon his duty of allegiance come into conflict, those of the United States have the paramount authority in American law; likewise, those of the foreign land have paramount authority in their legal system. In such a situation, it may be incumbent on the individual to renounce one of his citizenships to avoid possibly being forced into situations where countervailing duties are required of him, such as might occur in the event of war.”

As to the residency requirement, I believe Poe has complied with the ten-year residency requirement prior to the 2016 elections. Why? Every time, Poe was pregnant while she was in America, she goes home to the Philippines to deliver her baby.

If she really abandoned her Philippine domicile, she could have delivered all her three children in the U.S. where she enjoys more modern healthcare treatment and facilities at lower cost because she and her husband had jobs and were covered by group health insurances in their workplaces.

POE IS SHY OF 5 MONTHS AND 13 DAYS

Poe gave birth to her only son, Brian, on April 16, 1992, and later gave birth to two daughters: Hanna in 1998, and Nikka in 2004. She even transferred all her school children to the Philippines from their U.S. schools although she could just have left her family behind in the U.S. while she picks up the political career left behind by her adopted father in the Philippines, Fernando Poe Jr..

The Comelec commissioners, ever rigid, if not heartless, in their rulings, even accused Poe of “committing material misrepresentation in her COC when she declared that she has been a resident of the Philippines for a period of ten years and 11 months as of May 9, 2016 elections.”

In my count, she is actually shy of five months and 13 days in her 2013 COC for the Senate to meet the ten-year residency when she declared that on Oct. 2, 2012 she had been a resident for six years and six months before the May 13, 2013 elections.

But I say if one counts Poe’s residence from the time she delivered her first born in 1992 in the Philippines to the present, she should have logged 22 years of Philippine residence, not just “ten years and 11 months” that was claimed by her but the commissioners described as her material misrepresentations!

Poe even voted in two Philippine national elections while in the U.S.!

The fact that she was only shuttling back and forth between the Philippines and the U. S. and not to any other third country speaks volumes that the Philippines is really her only domicile.

As to her being five months and 13 days short of her ten-year residency, I don’t see anything wrong with it. When the murdered Sen. Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. was elected senator in 1967, he was short of 13 days of his 35th birthday, the minimum age requirement for senators. Yet, the husband and father of two presidents got a reprieve of being underage to continue his senatorial candidacy.

NO “ANCHOR BABIES”

While many wealthy women across the world, particularly Chinese mothers, are paying millions of dollars to syndicates just to deliver babies in the U.S., called “anchor babies,” here comes Ms. Poe, trying to save Uncle Sam thousands of dollars in healthcare bills for her pre-natal check up and delivery expenses, travelling thousands of miles like a migratory bird to deliver her baby in her native nest in the Philippines! Anchor babies are children born to a non-citizen mother in a country, which has birthright citizenship, especially when viewed as providing an advantage to family members seeking to secure citizenship or legal residency.

Imagine if the Supreme Court were to listen to the commissioners, this will not only strip Poe of her senatorial seat and dash her presidential hopes, the junior senator could also land in jail as the charge of material representation is a criminal offense that could also bar her from running for public office!

I hope the Supreme Court will enrich the Philippine jurisprudence by construing “adopting father” as among the definitions of the “father” in the 1935 Constitution. Why deny credit to adopting fathers, if such fathers were instrumental in raising law-abiding model citizens like Ms. Poe, who was elected senator by a record-breaking 20-million Filipinos?

In the Frivaldo v. Comelec & Raul Lee case [G.R. No. 120295. June 28, 1996], the Supreme Court said, “[I]n case of doubt, political laws must be interpreted to give life and spirit to the popular mandate freely expressed through the ballot. Otherwise stated, legal niceties and technicalities cannot stand in the way of the sovereign will.”

It added, “P.D. 725 granted a new right to these women the right to re-acquire Filipino citizenship even during their marital coverture, which right did not exist prior to P.D. 725. On the other hand, said statute also provided a new remedy and a new right in favor of other “natural born Filipinos who (had) lost their Philippine citizenship but now desire to re-acquire Philippine citizenship,” because prior to the promulgation of P.D. 725 such former Filipinos would have had to undergo the tedious and cumbersome process of naturalization, but with the advent of P.D. 725 they could now re-acquire their Philippine citizenship under the simplified procedure of repatriation.”

I am not saying Poe is the Second Coming but she is like Baby Jesus, who is also a foundling, whose natural father is unknown (mystery) and yet was raised by an adopted father, Joseph, the Carpenter (“Ang Panday,” which incidentally was a title of the popular movie of Poe’s adopted father).

In the U.S. and in other countries, the nationality of an adopted child automatically follows the nationality of an adopting father without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect his citizenship.

In other words, why will a referee stop the game when players are not violating any rules? Let Poe run for office and let the people decide!

If Poe wins the presidency, she will follow the footsteps of another foundling, Moses, who delivered his people to the Promised Land! Happy New Year!

(lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

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