• Poor Grace, no longer natural-born, but American still?


    BY raising some questions about the citizenship of Senator Grace Poe last Wednesday, I unintentionally dragged myself into the irrelevancy of Ms Poe wanting to run for President in 2016. I said it does not appear that she is a “natural-born” Filipino, which is a constitutional requirement for anyone running for President, Vice President, or member of Congress. Therefore, she is not only not qualified to run for president or vice president, she is above all not qualified to be sitting in the Senate or in the House of Representatives.

    She has not replied to this observation. Yet on the same day my column appeared, Rep. Toby Tiangco of UNA was quoted as saying that if she had come back to the country from the United States in 2006, she would be six months short of the 10-year continuous residency required of presidential candidates before the 2016 elections. She was quick to respond to the UNA statement.

    Although she had said in her 2013 certificate of candidacy under oath that she had been residing continuously in the country since 2006, she now says she and her family came back from the United States in 2005. What’s a one-year difference between friends?

    Her big political lawyer friends, like Senate President Frank Drilon, have since weighed in to invoke the legal doctrine of “animus revertendi,” which means roughly, a citizen’s intention to return to her original domicile. The use of the Latin term may intimidate non-lawyers, but it has no application here whatsoever.

    It would apply if a Filipino working abroad had decided to run for position in his home province, and was told by his adversaries that he had lost his residence and was no longer qualified to run. To that, the court has long replied that because of animus revertendi, he never lost his residence. Now, all that UNA is saying is that Poe’s actual residence here from the time she came home until 2016 is less than 10 years.

    Harry Roque, a lawyer-columnist at the Manila Standard, comments that Ms. Poe’s continuous residency should be reckoned not from the day she returned to the Philippines, but from the day she renounced her American citizenship in 2010, before her appointment in the Aquino government, as chair of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board. This would make her actual residence four years short of the required 10 years.

    But in popular practice numbers could be easily fudged. What cannot be fudged is whether Grace Poe is a natural-born Filipino or not. The facts are controlling. The senator was born on Sept. 3, 1968 of unknown parents, whose citizenship therefore is also not known. She was abandoned inside the Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral in Iloilo City, and was found by a woman named Chayong, who passed her on to another woman from Bacolod, Tessie Valencia, who finally gave her to the Fernando Poe Jr-Susan Roces couple for adoption.

    It’s a great story, reminiscent of the story of Moses , who, as a three-month old infant, was found by the Princess Batya, the Paraoh’s daughter, hidden inside a basket floating on the river Nile. He grew up to deliver his people from oppression. He spoke to Yaweh at the burning bush on Mount Horeb, led the Israelites from the Pharaoh’s grip across the Red Sea into the promised land; and received from God’s hands the two tablets containing the Ten Commandments.

    We do not wish to impose such a burden on Sen. Grace, but she has the opportunity to make so much of herself. She only has to follow the Constitution and the law.

    Under Article 2 of the UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, which was adopted on August 30, 1961, and went into effect on Dec. 13, 1975, “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 that territory of parents possessing the nationality of the State.”

    Lawyer friends of Sen. Poe have quoted this in her favor, but lawyer Jose A. Oliveros informs us that as of May 30, 2015, the Philippines has not acceded to that Convention, and cannot therefore legally benefit from it. Nevertheless, we could discard all the urban legends that have grown around Grace—that she is the daughter of the late President Marcos in an affair with the former movie actress Rosemarie Sonora, Susan Roces’s sister, and that she was born in Hawaii rather than in Iloilo. We could all assume she was a natural-born Filipino.

    But what happened after that? She became an American citizen by naturalization. This was long before the passage of the Philippine Dual Citizenship law, otherwise known as Republic Act 9225, in 2003. This law allows a natural-born Filipino to retain her original citizenship while acquiring a new citizenship, simply by taking a prescribed oath.

    This seems to go against Section 5 Article IV of the Constitution, which provides, “Dual allegiance of citizens is inimical to the national interest and shall be dealt with by law.” But the constitutionality of this law has never been questioned in court, and there has been no effort to put flesh and bones to Article IV Sec. 5, either.

    Presumably when Grace Poe was granted US citizenship, she had to take the oath of allegiance to the US, in which she swore to “support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States against all its enemies, foreign and domestic,” but to renounce and abjure “absolutely and entirely… all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen.” She lost her Filipino citizenship, and all rights and duties pertaining thereto, in favor of her US citizenship.

    After her adoptive father’s death, she came home. In order to become a Filipino citizen all over again, she had to take a new oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines, as provided by law. We do not know if this happened before she left the US, or while she was already back in the Philippines. But the very fact that she had to go through a process to reacquire Filipino citizenship proves that she had lost her natural-born status. Sec. 2 Article IV of the Constitution provides: “Natural-born citizens are those who are citizens of the Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their Philippine citizenship.”

    So, when did she reacquire her Philippine citizenship? And when did she renounce her US citizenship, assuming she has? Granted, Ms. Poe came home with her family in 2005, what passport did she use, Philippine or US? According to the Times report, the last time she used her US passport was on Dec. 27, 2009, four years after she come home. Then she was issued another US passport by the Washington Passport Agency in December 2011, while she was already MTRCB chair. She was issued a Philippine passport on May 16, 2014, a year after she became senator; it expires on May 17, 2019.

    This means that when Ms. Poe came home, as she says, in 2005, she was still an American citizen. She may still be, crypto and incognito, unless she has surrendered her US passport and her certificate of naturalization as an American citizen. Unless she has appeared before a US consular officer in the office of the American citizenship services of the US Embassy to voluntarily renounce her citizenship with the corresponding payment of $450 and the subsequent issuance of Certificate of Loss of US Citizenship, she remains from the US perspective a US citizen still.

    Sitting in the Senate after having lost one’s natural-born status is sordid enough. But sitting there while remaining the citizen of a foreign power carries with it the foul odor of treason.



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    1. Yong kaso ni Grace Poe ay hindi lamang politika kundi isang issue sa pag labag nya mismo sa 1987, constitution. Masasalamin ngayon sa kanyang sarili na wala talaga syang katapatan sa kanyang sarili at higit salahat ay magsilbi ng boong katapatan sa boong bayan.
      Sa kompanya noong 2013 ay sinabi nya na ipag papatuloy nya ang inumpisahan ng kanyang amo na si Daking. Sa kanyang mga salita pa lamang ay mukhang palso na dahil, 1) wala pa namang inumpisahan si Daking sa pamahalaang bayan o baka naman ang kanyang sinasabi ay tongkol sa pilikula. 2) hindi naman nya ama si Daking kundi poster father lang. Malabo nga ang kanyang mga adhikain sa bayan.

    2. Frank Villaroman on

      I certainly agree that there’s no intent for Sen./Mrs. Grace to deceive us all simply because she doesn’t no the Constitution by herself but I must ask her to divulge in public her SALN or assets and liabilities filed with the government since she served the gov’t service and her BIR records while residing in USA … A true patriot like Rizal, Del Pilar and the others went ashore to help our country from bondage from the Spaniards… Sen./Mrs. Grace Poe – Llamansarez may have the best intention to ignite fire in our dimension in the future but the rule of law must prevail. A natural born citizenship is not an issue here but her “Residential Status” which might tantamount to abandoning a country where she was needed most in paying taxes like most of us did. She must therefore declare her taxes paid since she left our country and became a US citizen. A dual citizenship is not accepted in all forms, manner and principle in accord with our Constitution if you are occupying in the executive, judicial and legislative position in our gov’t. Pls show us all the documents I mentioned now or tomorrow… No excuse please… Thanks

    3. I agree that Grace Poe does not even qualify as a senator if she had a US passport in December 2011 as mentioned by the author. On the date of the senatorial election May 13, 2013, she was either a US citizen or a “dual citizen” (assuming she renounced her US citizenship on that date in accordance with US law and invoked R9225 to reacquire her Philippine citizenship). As such, she will be or should have been disqualified.

      The fact that Comelec allowed her to stand as a candidate only reflects its incompetence for ascertaining the qualifications of candidates. It failed to do a proper job of “vetting”. The former head of Comelec (S Brilliantes?) even mentioned in an interview that her citizenship could be an issue if she runs for the presidency. Her qualifications need to be revisited and reconsidered. If the Supreme Court frequently reconsiders its decision, why not Comelec?

      The thirteenth place finisher in the 2013 senatorial election should file a lawsuit to nullify her election. The possibility that she may have committed fraud and misrepresentation in respect of her candidacy should be investigated.

      If Senator Poe is “honest” as she appears to be claiming, then she should lay open all her cards on the table, answer all questions concerning her citizenship and residency, and provide documentary evidence to prove that she indeed qualifies as a senator and possibly even run for the presidency in 2016. Note that she may already have lied when she stated that she renounced her US citizenship in 2010 before assuming the position of Chairman of the MTRC. She could not have renounced as she was issued a new US passport in Dec 2011. For renewal, the old US passport must be submitted. In spite of her claim, one can only conclude she was holding on to this old passport even while at MTRC.

      As for the case of VP J Binay, I just hope that he will soon be facing the scrutiny of Sandiganbayan Judge C. Morales and her staff. Based on the evidence so far presented in the Senate committee of Cayetano, Pimentel and Trillanes, he and his cohorts appear to be all crooks. VP Binay wants the Courts to decide his case. Well then, let it be!

    4. If US citizenship were open to all Filipinos, then and now, how many patriotic Filipinos would be left in the Philippines? Remember that Filipinos who pledge allegiance to other countries did so because they love their homeland where their families are and they all send money back as proof of patriotism. It’s hypocritical to say that Grace Poe commits treason by acquiring US citizenship. Quezon’s prophetic words is now being fulfilled when he said: “I’d rather see a Philippines run like hell by Filipinos than a Philippines run like heaven by Americans”.

    5. Hayyyyyyyyy, Bayan kung Pinas!!!!! Siraan na lang ng siraan ng kapwa – tutuo talagang ang crab mentality ay hindi na mawala, how much more with corruption. Perefect naman ang attendance sa simbahan tuwing Linngo – humihingi ng tawad sa mga nagawan kasalanan simula Lunes O nagdadasal pa na sana marami pang makurakot sa darating na linggo????????????????

    6. Julian Tulay on

      It’s kind of odd that the Honorable Miriam Santiago, the expert in International Law (that’s what she said) is not making any comment in this issue.

    7. I like former CJ PUNO to run for president if you all feel he is qualified honest and capable to handle the job please share and make ypur little effort to convince him to run!

    8. If you agree and believe in the research made by kit then don’t vote for POE…..enough of this pathetic fil-ams returning here in our country and denying our persevering locals of jobs and opportunities by staying here in the country… we have so many of these fil-ams in our society…. showbiz, pba, announcers/commentators, commercial models, beauty pageants, politics, staffs in local companies and even bpo’s

    9. Mr. Tatad, you mentioned the widespread rumor that Grace Poe’s biological parents are FM and Rosemarie Sonora. You were a Malacanang insider at the time she was conceived and it’s very possible you heard about the goings-on in the palace “gun room”. Will you be able to share your personal knowledge, if any?

    10. G. Poe has been taken for a ride, and corrupted by abnoy. Once again, can;t you notice the dirty tactics at work? Deception of fake talk or a false flag was at work so that she would become talk of the town. When the majority party noticed that G. Poe’s survey ratings were up, the double -bladed strategic talk by Abnoy had to be done. This did her in. I
      In reality, the LP already knew Grace Poe’s ineligibility. Capitalizing on the thought that Binay had an offer for her to run as Vice- President, and because she did not accept Binay’s offer to be running mate, it was impressed upon the public that the Opposition UNA became vindictive, thus , the tirade on her ineligibility. It is a false flag! Dirty tricks were again done and put to work so that UNA will be made to appear as sore losers! On the other hand, the shift back to Roxas makes a good copy of impressing the public that he is incorruptible The . Liberals’ style is rotten.

    11. Kayo naman gusto lang ni DisGrace
      na kung saan konbenyente dun sya,
      Masama ba yon? Baka makachamba
      sya e di lusot na si.abnoy.wala ng imbestigasyon pagkatapos ng termino nya. Kaya nga si Mar at Grace ang manok ni anboto.

    12. For me, I won’t vote for her if ever she runs for any position not because of the technicalities. I won’t vote for her because her changing of citizenships from one to another then back is putting her patriotism in a big question mark unless she explains in details what happened. If she does not, she’s just like the other politicians who are hiding something from the people.

    13. And you expect this opportunist Lumenares to save the day? How naive can you be. You have a buffoon in charge now, you expect another one in his place. Like Abnoy, this woman will do nothing but reaffirm the Philippines is a basket case. We need a strong hand to guide us to reality, righteousness and justice. Throw political righteousness in the waste basket where it belongs, BRING IN DUTERTE, MARCOS, FERNANDO, GIBBO OR GORDON.

      • we need 30 million voters like you. spread the word….
        oh, and Miriam Defensor Santiago. now, there’s no room for any yellow minions….

    14. She wants the best of both world. Some politicians here are doing that and some are staff of a politicians.

    15. Vic PenetranteVic on

      God made life simple. Lawyers make it confusing. Reporters must add firewood to enlarge the flames of issues.

      • what are you talking about? Kit Tatad couldn’t have been more clearer!

        mahirap talaga linawin ang totoo sa nabubulagbulagan….

    16. Amado Aguila on

      Is this article really necessary? One phone call to COMELEC would probably clarify her eligibility. But then again we already know the answer. The real question is the motivation of the author. We rely on the media to give as an accurate and fair reporting. We wonder if there is any institution of the Philippines thay is not affected by graft and corruption.

      • The date that Kit wrote as the date of her last use of her US passport is very exact and that is a clear example of media doing fair and factual reporting. There is no need for a phone call for COMELEC to do that. If her US passport was still valid on that date, it only means she was still a US citizen on 27 December 2009. Hence, it is high treason for her to be sitting still in the Senate as of this writing. Will the IBP or the Dept of Justice petition the SC to unseat her now and demand forfeiture of all rights and benefits accorded to the position unduly acquired? What is the VACC doing on this issue? What is committed was violence against the interests of the Filipino people.

      • Manila Times ay sulo(ilaw/liwanag) ng katotohanan. I find the honest and trustworthy in their newss reperting.

    17. I Remember... on

      This means all tome: “Then she was issued another US passport by the Washington Passport Agency in December 2011, while she was already MTRCB chair.”

      In December 2011, Disgrace Poe was not ready to invest 100% herself in the Philippines.

      She is like a woman keeping her husband and her lover… in case it goes wrong with one of the 2.

    18. Kale Alaskador on

      Filipinos are allowed to hold dual citizenship. Grace Poe, therefore, be both an American citizen and a Filipino citizen. Her possession of an American passport does not remove her citizenship in the Philippines.

      The question is when did she reacquire her Filipino citizenship and if this is recognized as still a “natural born” Filipino?

      Too many lawyers, too many interpretations of laws!

      Too much politics, too.

      • P.Akialamiro on

        It is her citizenship at birth that is being questioned. This will qualify her to run being a ‘natural born’ Filipino Citizen. Otherwise, she cannot. Also, a dual citizen is disqualified to run for an office, even as Bario Captain.

        Too many interpretations of the law make it interesting and a lucrative profession!

    19. Good article. Someone should file before the court in order to expose everything what are the violations being made if here’s any against Sen. Poe.

    20. Sayang and a big disappointment if what you are saying is true. Who could be the uniting persona to run for president if Sen Poe is disqualified?

      • Where is the love of country when she decided to turn her back on Pinas and become a full fledged Kana?
        Remember she is not a poor Pinay looking for a greener pasture.
        Another POL by convenience?
        Like I said, we don’t really know her yet.

    21. Jose A. Oliveros on

      A person loses his “animus revertendi” or his intention to return to his original domicile by acquiring the status of an immigrant in a foreign country or having himself naturalized as a citizen of a foreign country, according to a number of Supreme Court decisions. So when Sen. Grace Poe-Llamanzares had herself naturalized as a US citizen, she lost her Philippine domicile. Incidentally, I have yet to hear from a question I had earlier raised: Was she a flying voter in San Juan? Her CoC states that she is a resident of “106 Rodeo Drive, Ugong Norte, Quezon City but a registered voter in Barangay Sta. Lucia, San Juan?

    22. julio madiaga on

      i hope you can also write a piece scrutinizing the citizenship of Iqbal with the same zealousness as what you have done above.

    23. By the way, animus revertendi is a legal doctrine which is being harped by legal experts who seem to support Poe.

      However, animus revertendi does not apply to Poe’s case simply because the doctrine of “intent to return” does not apply to a US citizen like Poe since she already lost her Philippine citizenship. The doctrine only applies to a US green card holder or to those who became permanent residents of other foreign countries utmost. A permanent resident abroad does not lose his or her citizenship that is why the doctrine of animus revertendi applies like the case of Congresswoman Reyes who won but was disqualified by the Supreme Court.

      More importantly, the COC filed by Poe is the glaring proof of her residency which is in accord with the “best evidence rule.” She can no longer impugned or conveniently deny it that she made a mistake because she is already in “estoppel.”

    24. Maria Kapra on

      They should question her patriotism not her citizenship. Will she still renounce her US citizenship if she was not offered chairmanship of MTRCB? According to her she just became Filipino citizen again when she accepted the chairmanship.

    25. Ahhh..But she would be welcome with open arms if she was Chinese instead of American. Typical anti American propaganda as always. Especially from this author. Always good for a laugh

    26. P.Akialamiro on

      While it may be true that Ms. Poe renounced her U.S. Citizenship, I wonder if this was in wirting and signed by an offiicial of the U.S. State Dedpartment? I do not believe that orally renouncing one’s U.S. Citizenship is enough. Written acceptance by the U.S. State Department. This will be followed by filing of an intent to retain or reacquire Filipino Citiznnship. The final step would be the taking the oath of allegiance to the Philippine Government, before a duly-appointed official, to complete the transition back to Filipino Citizenship.

      But, Ms. Poe qualified or not, where have all the intellectual Filipino ‘patriots’, by heart and soul, who can fill the two highest positions in the country?

      • Hindi mo sila makikita o maririnig dahil kontrolado ng mainstream media kung sino ang dapat mong makita at mapakinggan.

    27. sonny dela cruz on

      I understand the writers motive on his column, just for the sake of arguments and discussions but whatever this kind of zarsuela is all about why not just leave it to the COMELEC and the COURT OF LAW. What I want to see and read is who are the best people to be elected to bring back the LOST GLORY of the country. Who are those people who will bring back the trust of the people to their government. The Philippines is in a MESS with a lot of problems like, POVERTY, UNEMPLOYMENT, CORRUPTIONS, EXPLOITATION OF YOUNG INNOCENT CHILDREN FOR PROSTITUTION ABROAD, CHILDREN ON THE STREET INSTEAD OF BEING IN THE SCHOOL TO HAVE A BETTER FUTURE AND FAMILIES STRUGGLING TO MEET ENDS MEET, HIGH PRICES OF COMMODITIES AND HIGH CRIME RATES and etc. The author should focus more on how we can achieved the best for the Country and the best investment we can get from the Filipino people.

      • qualified men and women dare not run for any position in this country because they do not have the resources to run a campaign. if one rely on political contributions, then one owes a debt of gratitude and is expected to return the favor. that is where corruption starts. remember all the hoopla of matuwid na daan at walang mahirap kung walang korap?? after a few months in office, this matuwid na daan na admin ay hindi maipaliwanag kung saan napunta yung mahigit na 2,000 container vans galing port of manila for transhipment daw sa port of batangas. where do you think those thousands of containers containing merchandise went?? e di syempre sa mga malls at divisoria. yon ay malaking posibilidad na payback sa mga political contributors.

    28. Roldan Guerrero on

      Legal Luminaries say: IGNORANCE OF THE LAW EXCUSES NO ONE so Grace Llamanzares being one does not exempt her of the consequences. She should give up her post now and stop mocking the Filipinos.

      • Manny De Guzman on

        There is no justice under deliema amd moral-es, including siren-o. Talking of justice in the Phil.. Do we have justice in this country? Look what happened to the fallen men under the terrorist. They were all forgotten. Laws were created just for this administration to protect them from their wrong doing. Not even one has faced arrest. The ten billion pesos they bribe were gone and this is unconstitional. ASAN ANG J U S T I C E?

      • Sorry Roldan. Justice in the Philippines does not exist. The “1987 Constitution” that we have, was just a “Joke Book”

        The “law” might be harsh, if you don’t have cash.

        And NO ONE is above diLAW!