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SC disqualifies Lanao mayor over citizenship

In a recent decision penned by Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo, the high court affirmed the December 2013 ruling of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) disqualifying Kauswagan Mayor Rommel Arnado in the 2013 elections. Screen grab from Youtube

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) has disqualified a municipal mayor in Lanao del Norte for being an American citizen.

In a recent decision penned by Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo, the high court affirmed the December 2013 ruling of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) disqualifying Kauswagan Mayor Rommel Arnado in the 2013 elections.

The high court said Arnado continued using his American passport even after renouncing his US citizenship in 2009 to run for mayor in 2010.

It dismissed Arnado’s petition and lifted the status quo ante order it earlier issued to stop the Comelec order.

In its ruling, the SC said “only natural-born Filipinos who owe total and undivided allegiance to the country could run for and hold elective posts.”

The SC allowed Arnado’s rival, Florante Capitan, to assume the post, although there are only nine months left in the term.

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The high court also disqualified Arnado in the 2010 elections for the same circumstance. The decision came out in April 2013.

“The circumstances surrounding the qualification of Arnado to run for public office during the 2010 and 2013 elections were the same.”

Arnado’s use of his US passport in 2009 invalidated his oath of renunciation, resulting in his disqualification in the 2010 election.

“When Arnado used his US passport just 11 days after he renounced his US citizenship, he recanted his oath of renunciation,” the ruling said.

Records showed that Arnado used his US passport four times since April 2009, when he renounced his American citizenship, to November 2009 when he filed his certificate of candidacy for the 2010 mayoralty race.

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