IN my last piece, I said we need an honest to goodness moral, spiritual and political revolution instead of one more rotten presidential election. If we have to have an election, it should not be as big a farce or a swindle as the ones we had in 2010 and 2013. As an absolute minimum, we should replace the Smartmatic Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) voting machine with something infinitely more trustworthy and transparent. We have a choice between PATaS and TAPAT, two indigenous alternative systems developed by Filipino engineers. And we should prevent a constitutionally disqualified individual from being imposed upon us as a presidential candidate by transnational actors who seem to believe they could get away with anything, just because they own the puppet regime and have all the power, money and dirty tricks at their command.
In their naivete or plain good faith, our voters are routinely attracted to so-called “popular” candidates. These are usually personalities with celebrity status who have all the “falsies,” though not the substance, and who have consistently invested in the popularity surveys. Even in the United States, which seems a bit more advanced, the voters this season seem to respond more to the reputed popularity of some presidential hopefuls than to their known or suspected merits.
This applies to the flamboyant billionaire Donald Trump, who has been leading the surveys of Republican hopefuls until he tried to self-destruct in the first Republican primary debate. But here as elsewhere, it is not enough for a presidential hopeful to rate well in the paid propaganda surveys. He or she must be seen to be morally and intellectually fit for the job; first and foremost, he or she must meet the constitutional requirements for the office.
Under our Constitution, no person may be elected president unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, 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. These are ironclad requirements. They cannot be waived or diluted. And there is no way of misreading or misunderstanding any part of the statement.
You may not even have a primary school education or the slightest clue on how the society or the state or the financial system works. But if you have all the previously mentioned constitutional qualifications, you could declare yourself a presidential candidate, even ahead of the official period for announcing presidential candidacies. But even if you had the genius of an Einstein, the money of a Bill Gates and all the taipans on Forbes magazine’s annual listing of dollar billionaires, and the popularity of a Pope Francis, if you do not meet any of the constitutional requirements, you simply have no business aspiring to be voted upon as president.
This is the exact situation of Sen. Mary Grace Poe Llamanzares. There is a great foreign-assisted lobby to make her the next corporate puppet after B. S. Aquino 3rd begins his long-awaited prison term or rides into the sunset. She is 47 years old, able to read and write, and was a voter in the 2013 election which put her on top of the infamous 60-30-10 special operations in favor of PNoy’s senatorial candidates.
But it is now as clear as day that she is not a natural-born Filipino, which is also an indispensable requirement for running for the Senate or the House of Representatives. She is not even a legal Filipino citizen at this point.
This is why Kapatiran senatorial candidate Lito David is asking the Senate Electoral Tribunal to declare by what right she sits in the Senate. It is also why I have tirelessly exposed the sordidness, depravity and contemptuousness of the campaign to make her a presidential candidate, in defiance of the Constitution and our laws. After saying repeatedly in this space that she is not a “natural-born Filipino,” I have to amend that statement, on the basis of the facts and the law, to say that she is not even legally a Filipino, at this point.
This seems an unduly excessive statement. But there is no other way of putting it. As Mrs. Llamanzares was stateless upon birth because of her unknown parentage, she is stateless all over again, because of her failure to legally reacquire her Philippine citizenship. I thought I had sufficiently discussed this issue, with readers who react to me from various parts of Asia, the US, Europe, Latin America and the Baltics, until a young senator showed me the other day he was a complete ignoramus on this all-important issue, which affects the nation’s inherent dignity, beyond that of the Senate.
I asked the young senator why neither he nor any of his colleagues had ever looked into what the Constitution says about the citizenship of Sen. Llamanzares. He expressed complete surprise, for in his view Mrs. Llamanzares was born in the Philippines and was therefore a Filipino. Reminded that she was a foundling and therefore stateless upon birth, the senator said she become a Filipino when she was adopted by the famous
Fernando Poe and Susan Roces couple who were both Filipinos.
I told him —and here I was rather direct–that as a Harvard-trained lawyer he should know that adoption does not confer citizenship. So if she had become a Filipino after having been born stateless, it must have been through some legal or illegal process. Now, whatever process made her initially a Filipino ultimately deprived her of any claim to being a “natural-born Filipino,” pursuant to the constitutional provision, which defines “natural-born Filipino” as a citizen of the Philippines from birth, without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect his/her citizenship.
Through some unknown and unexplained process, Mrs. Llamanzares became a Filipino, though not a natural-born Filipino, before migrating to the US. She lost her questionable “Philippine citizenship” in 2001 when she became a citizen of the United States. In 2006, upon her return to the Philippines following the death in December 2004 of her adoptive father and former presidential candidate Fernando Poe Jr., she executed under oath a notarized petition for the “reacquisition” of her Philippine citizenship under Republic Act 9225, popularly known as the Dual Citizenship Act of 2003.
In this petition, she told one over-extravagant deliberate lie–that she was a natural-born Filipino, born on Sept. 3, 1968 in Iloilo City to Ronald Allan Kelley Poe, a Filipino citizen, and Jesusa Sonora Poe, a Filipino citizen. This bare-faced falsification of critical data rendered her “reacquisition” of Philippine citizenship null and void.
This also rendered her stateless, since she also lost her US citizenship as of the second quarter of 2012. But even without this falsification, and the Bureau of Immigration’s erroneously allowing her faulty “reacquisition,” she was from the very beginning not qualified to benefit from RA 9225.
Under this law, only former natural-born Filipino citizens who became citizens of a foreign country after 2003 could regain their citizenship by taking the legally prescribed oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines. But she was never a natural-born citizen, and she became a US citizen two years before the law took effect in 2003. Therefore, she could not, even under the most favorable circumstances, avail herself of the benefits of the Dual Citizenship Act.
And yet she was able to take the oath and reacquire a Philippine “citizenship,” simply by telling that sordid lie about her being the biological daughter of the childless FPJ and Susan Roces couple, who were married on Dec. 25, 1968, three months after her birth. Obviously the authorities took her word at face value, without checking it.
But despite all the lies that have shrouded this case, the truth cannot be suppressed. Grace Poe Llamanzares is constitutionally disqualified from remaining in the Senate and from aspiring to become a presidential candidate.
Why is it then that at least two former Chief Justices of the Supreme Court, more than one dean of a College of Law and a School of Government, some highly paid elections lawyer, a number of columnists, so many rich businessmen and some foreign diplomats are insisting that Mrs. Llamanzares should simply run and leave it to the Supreme Court to rule later whether or not she is qualified to run? This is the biggest conspiracy against the Constitution and the Republic.
Under this conspiracy, Mrs. Llamanzares will be encouraged to file her certificate of candidacy at the appropriate date. Various parties will naturally move for her disqualification. But every legal and illegal maneuver will try to prevent the Comelec or the Supreme Court from acting seasonably on the suit.
Supported by the biggest war chest ever put together to capture political power, together with the manufactured propaganda surveys, the bought media, and the naked intervention of some foreign powers, Mrs. Llamanzares will be proclaimed “elected” even before the actual official canvassing is completed, as happened to B. S. Aquino 3rd\ in 2010. Finally, invoking the principle of “vox populi, vox Dei,” the open-and-shut case against the constitutionally disqualified puppet would be declared moot and academic.
I suspect that in her heart of hearts, the more decent side of Mrs. Llamanzares is trying to resist this criminal scenario. But the transnational cabal that’s out to own the next government is much too powerful to resist. It is also possible that Mrs. Llamanzares has already received too much money from the taipans who are out to control her and the next government. What is cooking is a dangerous brew that could bring out the most dangerous impulses from Filipinos. Mrs. Llamanzares should reflect well on this.
But I have a modest proposal, which the Poe supporters may wish to consider. If we are going to have elections in 2016, and if they sincerely believe we need a Poe to run in that election, let them support the “right Poe,” rather than the “wrong Poe” in such election. Never having been a natural-born Filipino, and being stateless now, and facing expulsion from the Senate on this very ground, Grace Poe Llamanzares is the “wrong Poe” to seek the presidency at anytime.
Susan Roces Poe, FPJ’s widow and Mary Grace’s surrogate mother, is the “right Poe” whom Poe supporters should support. While Mary Grace is constitutionally disqualified for any public office at this point, Susan Roces Poe has all the qualifications and none of the disqualifications for the highest office, even though she may never have thought of it at all. She cannot be criticized for it.
Cory Aquino set her eyes on the presidency after her husband was killed, and PNoy, her son, sought the office from her deathbed. Nobody could ever accuse Susan Roces Poe of engaging in the same brand of necropolitics.
We pray she could be persuaded to sacrifice if only to save her adopted daughter from her foolish ambitions, and help the country save itself.