Sen. Grace Poe-Llamanzares and her defenders are not meeting the issues against her head on.
The issue is not whether she is a Filipino citizen or not. Nobody is claiming that she is stateless. Nobody is questioning her Filipino citizenship after she has reacquired it. She and her followers are merely muddling the issue in bringing these things up.
The issue is whether she is a natural born Filipino citizen or not, and it is best that she stick to this or else there will be a directionless debate.
It won’t do well for her followers to question the motivation of persons raising this issue. Questioning the motive is, again begging the question. Just because there might be ill-motives against her doesn’t answer the question on her citizenship. The fact is, this is a valid issue that must be answered, especially by those who are aspiring for a national elective position.
Neither will this valid question be resolved by drama. Stop this call for sentimentality or the “pa-awa effect.” Appealing to emotions may be effective in the movies but not in the resolution of a vital issue.
Our eminent columnist, former Press Secretary Kit Tatad, also raised some questions that the senator and her defenders still have to answer, like when did she renounce her US citizenship? The answer to this is vital in determining whether she would have met the 10-year residency required by the Constitution by 2016. She can’t be a resident of the Philippines even if she’s physically here while holding a US passport and US citizenship.
In his well-read column (and well-written as always), Kit cited claims that she was given a new US passport in 2011. Now, US passports, like Philippine passports, are not automatically renewed. A passport holder has to apply for the replacement of an expiring or expired one. If her US passport was renewed in 2011, and the United States State Department works fast on replacements, then that would only mean that she was considered a US citizen at the time when she was already serving a term as senator.
To the questions of Kit, I ask my own: Why in the first place did she renounce her Filipino citizenship and become a US citizen? It has already been shown that she became a US citizen before the enactment of the dual citizenship law.
Cha-cha? Why not?
There seems to a knee-jerk opposition to any proposal to amend the Constitution. The Charter isn’t written in stone and the Philippine Constitution definitely needs a lot of amendments. I submit that no long-term political and economic reforms are possible without amending the Constitution.
The resolution of the House and the Senate to amend the economic provisions of the Constitution is not the product of a flash idea. I’ve heard of this since 1992 from then Sen. Edgardo Angara. Oh yes, he had also wanted a shift to a federal-parliamentary form of government but late in his public life, he focused only on the provisions that prohibit or limit the entry of foreign investments in some economic activities. If I remember it correctly, the former proposal also included the repeal of the automatic appropriation of foreign debt payments and of the automatic reenactment of the previous national budget if a new one is not signed into law before the start of a fiscal year.
There are many economic activities where Filipinos lack finances and technical know-how. What’s more, protectionism had resulted in some “infant” industries that failed to compete internationally because they have a secure or captive market in the country. And what’s wrong with allowing foreigners to own land? They can’t take the land out of the country anyway. Note that Filipinos could buy land and properties in the United States and other countries. Just ask Senator Poe, Sen. Lito Lapid, Sen. Tito Sotto, and Gen. Carlos Garcia (ret.), the former comptroller of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
The Philippines may not yet be ready for a federal-parliamentary form of government, even if the Aquino administration wants one for the proposed Bangsamoro substate. For one, the country still has a weak political party system, so weak that no single party can form a complete slate in any given election. However, some political reforms that are less controversial should be considered.
One is the repeal of the party-list system. This should exist only in a parliamentary form of government. A second one, as once proposed by former Sen. Ramon Magsaysay Jr., is the election of the president and vice president as a tandem. A vote for president will automatically be counted as a vote for his running-mate. A third is the separation of national and local elections.