‘Poe used US passport even after renunciation of American citizenship’

Edu Punay - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Grace Poe used her American passport even after she renounced her American citizenship in October 2010 when she was appointed chairman of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board.

This was bared during oral arguments at the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) on the disqualification petition filed by Rizalito David against Poe last Monday.

In response to the question of Sen. Cynthia Villar, David’s lawyer Manuelito Luna said they have submitted records of the US State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs showing Poe used her US passport in September 2011.

Luna said the lawmaker could have used her US passport beyond September 2011, but did not elaborate.

“As we pointed out in the hearing, this is proof of the lack of total allegiance on her part to Philippines to become a real Filipino citizen,” he said.

Records show that Poe married Teodoro Misael Daniel Llamanzares on July 27, 1991. Two days later, they went to the US to start a family there.

It was only on Oct. 18, 2001, or about 10 years later, when she became a US citizen.

After her father, movie actor Fernando Poe Jr., died in December 2004, she and her family decided to return to the Philippines for good.

In July 2006, Poe took her oath of allegiance to the Philippines. The Bureau of Immigration recognized her reacquisition of Filipino citizenship that same month. She and her children became dual citizens.

The Constitution requires candidates aspiring for national elective positions to be natural-born citizens.

In a recent decision, the Supreme Court (SC) affirmed the disqualification of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte Mayor Rommel Arnado in the 2013 elections for using his American passport after renouncing his US citizenship.

“Only natural-born Filipinos who owe total and undivided allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines could run for and hold elective public office,” read the ruling penned by Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo.

The high tribunal held the use of a foreign passport after renouncing one’s foreign citizenship “is a positive and voluntary act of representation as to one’s nationality and citizenship” and “does not divest one of the reacquired Filipino citizenship but recants the Oath of Renunciation required to qualify one to run for an elective position.”

The SC said renunciation of foreign citizenship “is not a hollow oath that can simply be professed at any time, only to be violated the next day.” It requires an “absolute and perpetual renunciation of the foreign citizenship and a full divestment of all civil and political rights granted by the foreign country, which granted the citizenship,” it added.

“By using his US passport, Arnado positively and voluntarily represented himself as an American, in effect, declaring before immigration authorities of both countries that he is an American citizen, with all attendant rights and privileges granted by the United States of America,” the high court ruling stated.

Not ripe

Actress Sheryl Cruz maintained her cousin is not yet ripe for the presidency, saying the senator’s popularity “could not translate into capability.”

In an interview last night with reporters at the Manila Hotel, Cruz said Poe’s decision to run in next year’s polls is “too abrupt.”

“I would prefer that she make her mark at the Senate first,” she said.

Cruz also rejected a DNA test to prove that she and Poe are not half sisters. Poe is rumored to be the love child of former President Ferdinand Marcos and Cruz’s mother Rosemarie Sonora.

Both parties have consistently denied the rumors.

More cases

Several groups will file disqualification cases against Poe the moment she files her certificate of candidacy next month, David told The STAR.

“I heard there are some who are interested,” he said without identifying the groups.

David said Poe still has to prove her residency requirements even though the SET dropped the issue. He said Poe would not be allowed to run for president because she lacks two months on the 10-year requirement.

David noted Poe reacquired her Filipino citizenship only in July 2006 and was registered at the National Statistics Office as a Filipino citizen in the same year.

David, meanwhile, backed the decision of Poe’s camp to prove that she is a natural-born Filipino.

“That is her right, but whatever her DNA match [result], she is going to show and the electoral tribunal has to go through validation on her DNA test,” David said.

While the DNA test might address the citizenship issue and allow Poe to retain her Senate seat, David said it does not follow she can run for president.

Meanwhile, the University of the Philippines Law Center has not issued any legal opinion on the issue of Poe’s citizenship.

“We express our concern over the unauthorized use of the UP Law Center’s name and reputation for the purposes of direct or indirect electoral campaigning in social media,” said UP Law Center Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea director Jay Batongbacal in a statement yesterday.

Batongbacal said he issued the statement upon the request of UP College of Law Associate Dean Concepcion Jardeleza, with the authority of Dean Danilo Concepcion, in response to a Facebook post quoting a supposed opinion of the UP Law Center.

The photo on Facebook user Geri Apostol’s account was captioned “The UP Law Center has issued a legal opinion that Grace Poe, in addition to the citizenship requirement, did not also meet the residency requirement.”

“The crime is Perjury for her false declaration in her sworn certificate of candidacy aside from disqualification,” it added. – With Robertzon Ramirez, Janvic Mateo, Aie Balagtas See

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