In our decrepit political system, the honest and competent individual who wants to serve and deserves public support doesn’t always get it; the “most popular,” as the propaganda surveys and the conscript media call it, usually does. The most popular could turn out to be most corrupt, amoral and incompetent, but the people never get to know it until they have him in high office, by which time it is too late.
From one election to another, we look for the lesser evil. The choice always tends to be between two or more evils, or evildoers — never between the bad and the good. Even some morally upright people tell us not to look for saints in politics because that would be wishing for utopia, which does not exist in the real world.
We have seen this repeated over and over again. And it is what we are seeing right now. There are as yet no official presidential candidates to choose from. But in the yawning political desert where no moral or intellectual life seems to grow, the following seem to claim ascendancy:
• Former Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd, who is President B. S. Aquino 3rd’s closest ally, and whose legendary ability to evade difficult questions and hard decisions has never been impugned by either friend or foe;
• Vice-President Jejomar C. Binay, who once nourished the hope of being anointed as PNoy’s candidate, but has known no rest since from all sorts of charges coming from Malacanang attack dogs, led by the Senate trio upon whom nature seems to have wasted so much talent, youth, and fairly good looks;
• Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who does not mind using gangster language to propose the political cancellation of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and the physical extermination of the scourges of society and the scums of the earth;
• Sen. Mary Grace Poe Llamanzares, who appears to be technically stateless at the moment and is facing a disqualification suit from citizen Rizalito David before the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for not being a natural-born Filipino. With her American husband and American children intact, Grace is the only one who could guarantee an all- American First Family residing in Malacanang, without the Philippines having to become the 51st state of the US. And yet she is said to rate high in the propaganda surveys attributed to her surrogate uncle, Mahal Mang-ahas, using 1,200 unknown samples or “interviewees” arbitrarily chosen by the same pollster to express your views and mine, and the views of the rest of 100 million Filipinos;
• Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., who bears his father’s burden, and is being urged by a growing number of men and women to run, if only to end the savaging of our national dignity by a misbegotten political and economic tribe that has traded national sovereignty for their naked self interests.
Some see Roxas as the “lesser evil” for obvious reasons. He is the imminent administration candidate, having been endorsed by PNoy, and he will be the primary beneficiary of any manipulation of the automated voting system by Smartmatic and the Comelec.
Some others see Binay as the “lesser evil” because despite all the charges that have been hurled against him, he has managed to retain his irreducible share in the popularity ratings and has survived. He’s been badly bruised but he remains standing. His supporters argue that whatever wrongdoing he may have committed in Makati as its mayor for over 20 years, he at least shared his bounty with the poor and elderly by sending them a cake, flowers and some cash on their birthdays and giving them free movies every day. He has been to every wake in the vicinity and condoled with every family that had lost a loved one. Who else has done that?
Still some others see Duterte as the “lesser evil” because, as his media promoters put it, he is the only guy who’s talking about federalism, the parliamentary system, and a “revolutionary government,” even though his idea of the latter may be completely different from that of the National Transformation Council. He also promises to solve decisively and with finality the country’s peace and order problems. As a young lady put it when asked why she prefers Duterte, she’s a mortician and there will be brisk business for her kind.
Still for so many others, “none of the above” qualifies for the “lesser evil.”
And this is where Sen. Grace Poe Llamanzares comes in. She is a fresh flower in a withered garden, obviously intelligent, with sensible and well-crafted statements on some public issues, and almost always simply dressed, in white, on public occasions. She was born of unknown parents, adopted by the movie actor Fernando Poe Jr. and his actress wife Susan Roces, pursued her studies, and got married in the United States, where she renounced her allegiance to the Philippines and became a US citizen in 2001.
She remained in the US when FPJ ran for president in May 2004 and died in December that same year. She returned to the Philippines in 2005, while still an American citizen; accepted a government appointment in 2010; ran for the Senate and “won” in 2013;and is now being urged by a powerful politico-business group running ports, airports, casinos, and large conglomerates to run for President, even while facing a disqualification suit before the Senate Electoral Tribunal and the Commission on Elections for not being a natural-born Filipino citizen, and for lacking the period of residence in the country immediately before the 2013 election.
If the suits against her succeed, Grace Poe Llamanzares will be unseated from the Senate, and disqualified from ever running again for any public office. This would be a victory of, and for, the Constitution. This brings us back to the time when then Sen. Raul Manglapus, at the height of his popularity, was disqualified after winning the election because of “overspending.”Dura lex, sed lex—the law is hard, but it’s the law.
Mrs. Llamanzares’s case is more serious than that of Manglapus. It would mean the end of the ambition of those who would like to own the next government, and the Republic of the Philippines through Llamanzares.
This is why they are trying every device to divert the issue away from the Constitution into every possible argumentum admisericordiam and argumentum ad hominem, and other irrelevancies. But the legal proposition has been clearly stated—-both in relation to her right to sit in the Senate, or in relation to her right to run for President or Vice President. And there is no getting away from it.
What does the Constitution say?
The1987 Constitution provides that no person may be elected senator, or congressman, or president or vice president unless he is, among others, a “natural-born citizen of the Philippines.”
The 1987 Constitution provides that “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.”
The 1935 Constitution, which was in force when the infant Grace was born, provides that “those whose fathers are citizens of the Philippines” are citizens of the Philippines. The 1987 Constitution provides that “those whose fathers or mothers are citizens of the Philippines” are citizens of the Philippines.
What does the law say?
Republic Act 9225, otherwise known as “Citizenship Retention and Reacquisition Act of 2003,” provides that “any provision of law to the contrary notwithstanding, natural-born citizens by reason of their naturalization as citizens of a foreign country are hereby deemed to have reacquired their citizenship upon taking (the prescribed) oath of allegiance to the Republic… Natural-born citizens of the Philippines who, after the effectivity of this Act, become citizens of a foreign country shall retain their citizenship upon taking the aforesaid oath.”
What do the implementing rules say?
Memorandum Circular No. AFF-04-01 of the Bureau of Immigration provides that these rules shall apply to former natural born citizens of the Philippines only, as defined by Philippine law and jurisprudence, who have lost their Philippine citizenship by reason of their naturalization as citizens of a foreign country, and they shall submit the NSO-authenticated copy of their birth certificate as proof of their declaration.
What are the material facts?
In 2006, Grace Poe Llamanzares filed a petition for reacquisition of Philippine citizenship under RA 9225 in which she said: “I am a natural-born Philippine citizen, born on Sept. 3, 1968 at Iloilo City to Ronald Allan Kelley Poe, a Filipino citizen, and Jesusa Sonora Poe, a Filipino citizen.”
The same statement was made on her behalf when she first applied for a Philippine passport to allow her to leave for the US to pursue her studies.
She made the same statement in 2013 when she filed her certificate of candidacy for the Senate.
The same statement was made at three critical stages in Grace Poe Llamanzares’s life, but it was and remains a false statement.
She was born of unknown parents, found at a church in Jaro, Iloilo on Sept. 3, 1968, and “adopted” by the Poe couple, who were married on Dec. 25, 1968. The date of the “adoption” is not officially recorded, and nobody has seen the adoption documents.
Having no citizenship upon birth, she became a Philippine citizen as a minor through some legal or illegal process. That process irrevocably destroyed any claim to “natural-born” status.
In any case, her Philippine citizenship was extinguished when she became a US citizen in 2001. She lost her US citizenship in 2012. She was not a former natural-born citizen when she made that claim in 2006, but because of her misrepresentation, which the BID failed to check, her petition was granted. Nevertheless such grant was invalid.
Under the circumstances, Mrs. Llamanzares hardly qualifies as a lesser evil. To the contrary, she could metamorphose and balloon into a bigger evil if her defenders, promoters and funders decide to force her candidacy upon the nation with the fury of an invading force, despite her constitutional disability.
They seem to believe that with their power and money, they could persuade the Comelec and the Supreme Court to thrust a dagger into the heart of the Constitution and allow the propaganda fraudsters, the conscript media, and a rigged automated election to falsely proclaim “voxdiaboli,vox Dei!”
Let’s make sure that nothing like this hits us before missiles start raining at the Korean peninsula.