Blessing the non-candidates


Cardinal Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila may have taken a bold step when he met the other day with Vice President Jejomar Binay, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, and Sen. Grace Poe Llamanzares to confer his episcopal blessings upon the wannabes. It is easy enough to assume that all three politicians had wanted to see the Cardinal separately in private, but the Cardinal decided to see them all together instead. He thus bestowed upon them the same blessing; no one got more, no one got less. But by receiving them together, the Cardinal might have unwittingly lent the impression that he considered all three of them potential presidential candidates for 2016. This may have been a mistake.

Why so? Because, first of all, the three are not yet candidates.

They will become candidates when they formally file their certificates of candidacy in October. Only then will we know if all three are indeed running, and if any more would be running at that point. That may be the best time for His Eminence to give them his blessings in episcopal audience.

Although all three are interested in the same thing, not all have the same constitutional standing to qualify as potential candidates. One may be more popular than the other two, but she is, in my book, constitutionally ineligible from running for the office. I refer to Mrs. Llamanzares.

She is a former American citizen, with an American husband and three American children, whose qualification to remain in the Senate is being questioned by petitioner Rizalito David through counsel Manuelito Luna before the Senate Electoral Tribunal on her lack of citizenship and residence. It is not fair therefore for anyone to suggest that the Cardinal-Archbishop of Manila has given Mrs. Llamanzares his moral seal of approval to seek the presidency while this issue pends before the SET.

According to the best evidence available, supplied by Mrs. Llamanzares herself, she is not a natural-born Filipino citizen, and is apparently stateless at this point; not qualified to run for President, Vice President, Senator or member of the House of Representatives. If stateless, she would not even be qualified to vote.

But just because we saw her being “blessed” by our cardinal, some of us might think that her constitutional defect is a non-issue, which the Church could blithely overlook. PNoy and Roxas and their filthy rich cronies might have all the arrogance and conceit to believe the Constitution and the remaining few willing to die for it could be easily trodden underfoot without creating holes in the soles of one’s shoes. But never the Church.

The Church must be the first one to insist that even if no two voters could agree on the personal qualifications and worth of any candidate for high office, no voter should complain that any candidate has failed to meet any of the constitutional and legal qualifications for seeking the office. This means, as provided in Section 2, Article VII of the Constitution, that “no person may be elected President or Vice-President unless he is a natural-born citizen, a registered voter, able to read and write, at least forty years of age on the day of the election, and a resident of the Philippines for at least ten years immediately preceding such election.”

The law is so clear that no two individuals who understand every word used in the sentence could have two different interpretations and understanding of it. The only word or phrase that makes one pause is, “natural-born citizen.” What does it mean? Does it refer to the way babies are born? The Constitution answers in Section 2, Article IV: “Natural-born citizens are those who are citizens of the Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their citizenship.” This definition is so clear that no two qualified individuals can have two different understanding of it.

The Constitution provides minimum qualifications to encourage as many individuals as possible to qualify. This is to make sure that before one becomes the candidate of a group, a political party or coalition, or even one’s own pure illusions, he is first of all a candidate of the Constitution. This is what our predatory elite would like to stamp out by insisting on running Mrs. Llamanzares for president or vice president, despite her ineligibility under the Constitution. Some of them have the gall to suggest that their money and power will resolve everything in their favor, simply by corrupting everyone who could be corrupted anywhere.

Knowing the colonial mentality of our people, and the fact that no American official would dignify the propaganda rubbish in the grapevine, some of them even have the temerity to claim that Mrs. Llamanzares is the “American candidate” in the next election. The apparent purpose is to stampede the ignorant and the gullible into boarding their fraudulently confected bandwagon.

But at the Supreme Court this morning, Justices Antonio Carpio, Arturo Brion and Teresita de Castro will lead the nine-man Senate Electoral Tribunal in a preliminary conference on David’s petition to unseat Mrs. Llamanzares. Petitioner David through counsel Manny Luna will try to present his case, using the documents supplied by Mrs. Llamanzares herself. This promises to be fun.

The documents show that Mary Grace Poe Llamanzares was born a foundling in Jaro, Iloilo, sometime on Sept. 3, 1968 in Jaro. Her biological parents were unknown; their citizenship similarly unknown. She was found on a parish church property by one Edgardo Militar, who turned her over to another native of Jaro named Emiliano Militar. Under the 1935 Constitution, which was in force at the time, the following are citizens of the Philippines: 1) those who are citizens of the Philippine Islands at the time of its adoption; 2) those born on the Philippine islands of foreign parents who, before the adoption of the Constitution, had been elected to public office in the Philippine islands; 3) those whose fathers are citizens of the Philippines; and 4) those who are naturalized in accordance with law.

Mary Grace did not fall under any of these categories. She was therefore stateless at birth.

Among the documents are two purported certificates of live birth. One is dated Nov. 27, 1968 and refers to the birth of one Mary Grace Natividad Contreras Militar, found in the parish church of Jaro on Sept. 3, 1968, by Edgardo Militar. The main body of the document is typewritten, but it contains handwritten inserts, which make the authenticity of the document highly questionable. The name “Natividad” is handwritten, while the typewritten name “Contreras Natividad,” is bracketed by hand, and above it “Sonora Poe” is handwritten. On the right hand side is a handwritten note of seven short lines saying, “the child was adopted by spouses Ronald Allan Poe and Jesusa Sonora Poe, as per decision of the Municipal Court of San Juan, Rizal under Judge Alfredo Gorgonio dated May 13, 1974.”

The certificate is dated Nov. 27, 1968, yet it mentions the child’s adoption which was supposed to have taken place six years later, in 1974.

The second certificate of live birth was received by the Office of the Civil Registrar of Iloilo City on May 4, 2006—38 years after Grace Poe’s date of birth—from Mrs. Jesusa Sonora Poe, her surrogate mother, who supplied all the “information” contained therein. In this document, the informant said Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe was born on Sept. 3, 1968 in Jaro to herself (Jesusa) and her husband Ronald Allan Poe, who were married on Dec. 25, 1968, three months after Mary Grace was born. There is no evidence, however, not even a rumor, that Mrs. Poe ever delivered a child.

The couple was shown to have adopted Mary Grace Natividad at court proceedings in the San Juan municipal court in 1974. If the information is correct, the proceeding is questionable because at the time, adoption cases fell under the jurisdiction of the regional trial court, not any municipal court.

How did Mary Grace Natividad Poe, who was stateless upon birth, acquire her Philippine citizenship? She was adopted by a Filipino couple, but under the law then in force adoption conferred surname, succession, and support to the adopted child, but not citizenship. Presumably she obtained a Philippine citizenship by some means, fair or foul, legal or illegal, but the very means employed to acquire such citizenship deprived her of any possible claim to a “natural-born status.”

In any case, she permanently lost her Philippine “citizenship” when she became an American citizen in 2001. On Oct. 20, 2010, she executed an affidavit of renunciation of allegiance to the United States of America and renunciation of her American citizenship. On July 12, 2011, she formalized her renunciation of her American citizenship in the presence of a US vice consul (signature illegible) at the US Embassy in Manila. The Federal Register, the Daily Journal of the US Government, recorded this renunciation in the second quarter of 2012 ending June 30.

Previous to that, on July 10, 2006, Mrs. Llamanzares filed a petition for the “reacquisition” of Philippine citizenship under RA 9225, or the Dual Citizenship Law of 2003. This law allows “former natural-born citizens” who had become citizens of another country after 2003 to reacquire their Philippine citizenship by taking a prescribed oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines. But Mrs. Llamanzares was not/is not qualified to “reacquire Philippine citizenship” under this law on two counts. First, she was never a natural-born Filipino, and second, she became an American citizen in 2001, before the Dual Citizenship Law took effect. The law has no retroactive effect.

And yet in her petition she said she was a natural-born Filipino, born to Ronald Allan Kelley Poe and Jesusa Sonora Poe, both Filipinos. Thus her application was given due course and approved by the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation without doing any due diligence and demanding proof of her claim of natural-born status. Immigration Commissioner Alipio Fernandez Jr. did not sign the document himself, somebody else signed on his behalf. She repeated her false claim about her citizenship, birth and parentage in 2013 when she filed her certificate of candidacy for the Senate.

From the documents before the SET, the facts seem clear. Having renounced her American citizenship in 2011/2012, Mrs. Llamanzares has ceased to be an American citizen. But not being qualified to reacquire Philippine citizenship under RA 9225, her Philippine citizenship is null and void ab initio. She is not legally a Filipino, much less a natural-born Filipino. Thus as she was stateless upon birth 47 years ago, so is she stateless now.

We sympathize with Mrs. Llamanzares, but one who wants to preserve and defend the Constitution from everyone else must first preserve and defend it from oneself. PNoy and Roxas and their friends can help if instead of saying they have not given up on her as a possible vice presidential candidate, they would help her face reality and manage her crisis.


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  1. Undergoing a naturalization process is the natural way for Grace Poe to become bona fide citizen of the Philippines. The long way and legitimate! Othewise, Poe is still an immigrant or resident alien to the Philippines as of now!

  2. Mr. Tatad, you mentioned that the 1935 Phil Constitution is the one applicable on Ms. Poe’s. If so, what happened to Article II, Section 3, which states in part ” . . . . and adopts generally accepted principles of international law as apart of the laws of the Nation (Philippines)”. Former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban wrote, and I cite herein the relevant part” . . . .Applicable international law. Mijares vs Ranada (April 12, 2005) held that “generally accepted principles of international law … even if they [are] not derived from treaty obligations… [have] two elements: the established, widespread and consistent practice on the part of states; and a psychological element known as the opinio juris sive necessitates (opinion as to law or necessity) … a belief that the practice in question is rendered obligatory by the existence of a rule of law requiring it.” Under Art. 2 of the 1961 International Convention on Statelessness, “[a] foundling found in the territory of a Contracting State shall, in the absence of proof to the contrary, be considered to have been born within the territory of parents possessing the nationality of that State.”
    Applying that article to Senator Poe, a foundling found in the Philippines is presumed, in the absence of contrary proof, to have Filipino biological parents. Since she was found near a church in Jaro, Iloilo, when she was only a few days old, her parents are presumed to be Filipinos”. Chief Justice based on the above went on to conclude that Grace Poe is a natural born citizen of the Philippines.

    • What CJ Panganiban forgot to mention in his opinion is that the Philippines did not ratify the 1961 UN Convention that you mentioned (by the way, in an earlier column Mr. Tatad mentioned that CJ Panganiban was a good friend of FPJ, and therefore can be considered biased in favor of Grace Poe). Even those countries that did sign, such as Belgium, reserved the right to define what is meant by “natural born citizen” as applied to their own country. Since the Philippines was not a signatory to the Convention, meaning it is not a “contracting state”, then it is not bound by the Convention. More importantly, the Philippine Constitution is sovereign overall, and trumps or supersedes the Convention. Part of its articles expresses specifically the meaning of “natural born” and “citizens” of the Philippines. Specific domestic law cannot be overturned by the UN 1961 Convention.

      The citizenship of Grace Poe’s biological parents are unknown and continue to be unknown. They could have been Chinese, Filipino, American, etc. That is why she is considered “stateless” at birth. The 1935 Constitution applies to her for reasons mentioned by Mr. Tatad.

      I think the whole issue of Grace Poe’s citizenship will be passed on to the Supreme Court. There are too many politicians in SET, and some (such as V Sotto) have their own political agenda to promote.

    • mELBAROSE r. sASOT on

      Sen. Poe Llamanzares will never be a natural born citizen as required by the Constitution. She lost it when she renounced it on October 18, 2001 when she was naturalized as a citizen of the USA and she is not qualified under RA9225 to reacquire it because she became an American citizen in 2001 and RA 9225 applies only to Filipino citizens who became citizen of another country after 2003. So, she is not qualified to run in fact for Senator, much more for vice President and President of this country.

  3. Very well-written article about the technicalities of the constitution and Pilipinas “re-acquisition-of citizenship” law.

  4. In your dreams Ka Eddie, baka ikaw bayarin NG mga dilaw. Dami nilang pera para sa katulad mo, walang principio. May batas kailangan sundin, yon Lang.
    Isa pa ang tangang si Tagle, bakit wala sa Marcos, Duterte at iba pa. Si Gloria inakusahan na nag Bigay NG Pajero sa simbahan, ano KAYA ang binibigay ni Pinoy?

  5. Unwittingly? I do not believe the clear-thinking Cardinal Tagle is capable of this faux pas. The Church is a pillar of the yellow regime. Therefore to me, this is a clear signal in the midst of all these confusing propaganda that the yellow candidates are these cheap politicians whose ambitions are exceeded only by their gross unfitness for the office they are seeking. To be unfit is obviously the major qualification to be president under the yellow regime, isn’t it?

  6. It will be a nightmare for our country if Mar Roxas becomes the next president. Imagine walang nagawa sa DTI, DOTC at DILG, what more kung sa buong bansa.

  7. Sa February 2016 pa daw ang resolution ng disqualification case ni Sen Grace Poe sa SET. Si VP Jojo Binay kase ang gumawa ng timeline ng hearing, siya kase ang magmamanipula lahat niyan.

  8. Maybe the blessing of the Cardinal will help Llamanzares realize the folly of what she is doing. Even Atty. Katrina has weighed in already and making this a discrimination issue. Talagang sumasawsaw na lahat.

  9. It is good that Mr. Tatad mentioned G. Poe’s renunciation of her US citizenship. Although she claims that she renounced it on October 20, 2010 prior to accepting the MTRCB chairmanship, this is not the renunciation that resulted in her ceasing to be a US citizen. As far as the US Government is concerned, unless one follows certain prescribed steps, the US citizen remains a US citizen (google “Renunciation of US Citizenship) . The date when G. Poe received her Certificate of Loss of Nationality or CLN (sometime in December 2011) is the date she ceased to be a US citizen. Presumably, her US passport which she was required to submit to the US Consulate when she applied for renunciation was also canceled on that date. This cancelled passport should have been returned to her with the word “Canceled” in big bold capital letters. Mr. R. David, as petitioner seeking to disqualify Ms. Poe to sit as a senator, should ensure that this US passport of Ms. Poe is entered as evidence during the proceedings of SET. The passport had an expiry date sometime in 2011. Unless canceled, through the CLN, Ms. Poe remained a US citizen.

    RA 9225 does not apply to Ms. Poe. To acquire Philippine Citizenship she had to or needs to undergo the “naturalization” process.

    • Let’s re-enact what Grace Poe did! When she renounced her Philippine citizenship by virtue of the paperless adoption of her state as a foundling, then she was considered as a bona fide Filipino citizen. But her migration to America and she became an American Citizen after filing her naturalization process to the INS-CIS. Her going back to the Philippines to run for Senator and spending some two years, she fooled the Filipino people by doing a short-cut because of her Poe popular name. But if she is like me a nobody running for a public office, she may be denied by the COMELEC because of residency requirements. Now she wants to short-cut again her ambitions to become an elected president of the Philippines. Now, this is the adage that is applicable to her, “Fool me once, shame on me! Fool me twice, Shame on you, Grace Poe!”

  10. Well, what have we here is a show of utter hypocrisy, both by the catholic church leader and those whom Tagle blessed, because there is no moral standard in this show of complete disregard of the sanctity of a blessing.

    Now, is it a question as to why some catholics are joining other religious sect, and shun the teachings of the catholic church, such a pity that Pope Francis, who would want to rehabilitate the church and restore the faith of its’ followers, to have people like Tagle doing the opposite of his aim to free the catholics of devious shepherds or wolves in sheeps clothing, whose only interest is to keep themselves on the good side of manipulators and exploiters.

    So, where is that often called out – separation between the state and the church? Shame on Tagle for using the catholic church to pursue is personal ambitions.

  11. To Kit….. you explained very well the status of Disgrace but yellow trolls wouldn’t accept the fact and the truth from the grain.We’ll, I salute you, sir.

  12. Plain and simple, this is ‘bulok na sistema”, where the ruling elite perpetuates as the Catholic Church hierarchy in connivance and conspiracy. When governance is lorded by money and the oligarchy takes advantage of the general populace hoodwinked by popularity of candidate regardless of qualification and track record of merits and performance. We are a doomed as a race unless we eliminate the system that continuously breed this kind of governance.

  13. Kit, I got the impression from the “graduation” picture of the event that there are 4 candidates in the line-up. Is she leaving the leadership of the PPCRV ?

  14. Sadly it is not ONLY Cardinal Tagle who is getting entangled with controversies lately. Even Pope Francis seems to be also sinking into very very serious entanglements. Cardinal Tagle’s may be categorized as (Philippine) constitutional while the Pope’s is deeply doctrinal. Aren’t these frightfully auspicious ? The approximate time gaps between Adam to Abraham was 2,000 years, Abraham to the Babylonian Captivity was 2,000 years, the Babylonian Captivity to King David was also 2,000 years, King David to Jesus was 2,000 years as well and from Jesus to-date was another 2,000 years. Is something as historic as what happened over these 5 periods in history about to happen ?

  15. Leodegardo Pruna on

    Disgraced Grace is in the company of disgraced people who have disgraced themselves through lies and grandiose ambition. God bless the Philippines.

  16. Jose A. Oliveros on

    A news report on page 3 of the Manila Bulletin issue yesterday, 10 September 2015 under the by-line of Leo Postrado, quoted Atty. Alexander Poblador, lawyer of Sen. Grace Poe-Llamanzares, as saying that her naturalization as an American citizen is not a sign of lack of patriotism. She just wanted to be with her family to keep them together. This reasoning is either shallow, or outright hollow. During martial law, many Filipinos opposed to the Marcos dictatorship went on self-exile to the US and continued their fight against the Marcos regime thus placing their lives in danger. Yet they never had themselves naturalized as American citizens so they could seek protection from the US government against pro-Marcos elements in the US who were constantly hunting and hounding them.
    The late Bonifacio Gillego of Sorsogon and Heherson “Sony” Alvarez of Cagayan and Manila were able to leave the Philippines for the US upon imposition of martial rule and thus avoided being arrested and incarcerated like Ninoy Aquino, Jose Diokno and others. In the US, they continued the fight against Marcos. Gillego, a retired Army major worked as security guard on night shift and at daytime researched on the war record of Marcos that led him to expose the Marcos claim of heroism during WW II was based on fake documents. Alvarez founded the Ninoy Aquino Movement (NAM) shortly after Aquino was killed on Sept. 21, 1983. But despite continuing threats to their lives, they never renounced their Philippine citizenship that is why when elections were held in 1987, Gillego was elected Congressman of Sorsogon and Alvarez as Senator. Being a natural-born Filipino citizen is a constitutional requirement for both positions.

  17. Jesus! NOT AGAIN, an entire space dedicated to bring down a not yet official candidate, instead of writing about the carmaggedon, it seems your obsession about the foundling is now in ‘mental’ level and an obvious paid propaganda despite the BI ruling that SHE IS A CITIZEN. The choice is clear among candidates, The Lawrence of Incompetence, The thief of Baghdad, or the ‘American’ foundling?

    • You can always skip reading the column. It is not up to you to decide what an opinion columnist should write about.

      By the way, it is not the BI that has ultimate authority to decide the question of whether someone is a natural born Filipino or not. It is the Supreme
      Court of the Philippines. If you read the column, Mr. Tatad is saying some documents submitted by G Poe to SET are questionable and include false or inaccurate statements.

    • Jose A. Oliveros on

      The Bureau of Immigration did not rule that she is a natural-born Filipino citizen. What the document signed by Associate Commissioner Roy Almoro states is Grace Poe-Llamanzares is “presumed to be a Filipino citizen”. Not a categorical statement that she is a Filipino citizen. That is why her citizenship can be questioned anytime, specially since she is an incumbent Senator whose term expires in 2019.

  18. Reyno del rosario on

    Ask ko Lang Mr. Kit Tatad, magkano ba talaga ang tinatanggap mo Kay Binay? May Nnaghain na ng reklamo Kay Sen Grace sa SET, bakit ayaw mo pang tumigil sa kasusulat tungkol sa citizenship issue sa kanya. Ginagawa mo na yata talagang inutil ang mga Pilipino. Mukha ka na talagang Pera.

    • very obvious na ba? , note the title – “Blessing the non candidates” and yet, only Grace was mentioned from top to bottom,conveniently skipping the 2 trapos, He keeps invoking the Constitution – the same Consti that he and the NTC try to get rid of! (huli ka mama!) He really thinks that somebody can be stateless(singaw?)Oh well, theres no such thing as negative publicity, in fact he is doing her a favor, people just love underdogs, she will be THE NEXT PRESIDENT…….and theres nothing he can do about it…….