SC disqualifies ‘naturalized’ mayor


IN a decision seen as a foreshadowing of how the case of Senator Grace Poe may be resolved, the Supreme Court (SC) disqualified a town mayor because he is not a natural-born Filipino.

Court observers said that the case of Mayor Rommel Arnado of Kauswagan, Lanao Del Norte is similar with Poe’s because he reacquired his Filipino citizenship before running for public office. They said the only difference was that Poe was adopted.

The High Court, voting 8-4, upheld the decision of the Commission on Elections disqualifying Arnado from running in the 2013 local elections and accordingly set aside his proclamation as mayor.

The decision penned by Associate Justice Mariano Del Castillo said Arnado used his US passport even if he had renounced his US citizenship.

“Only natural-born Filipinos who owe total and undivided allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines could run for and hold elective public office,” the SC stressed.

Arnado ran for mayor twice – in 2010 and 2013. He was disqualified in his first run in a decision penned by Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno.

The SC pointed out that “since then and up to the time he filed his COC for the 2013 elections, Arnado had not cured the defect in his qualification.”

“In other words, when Arnado filed his COC on Oct. 1, 2012, he was not totally unaware that the use of his US passport after had executed the Affidavit of Renunciation might have an impact on his qualification and candidacy,” it said.

“Consistent with our April 16, 2013 ruling, Arnado should be made to face the consequences of his inaction since he could have remedied it at the time he filed his COC on Oct. 1, 2012 or even before that,” the tribunal added.

The ruling was concurred in by Sereno, Justices Antonio Carpio, Presbitero Velasco Jr., Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin and Estela Perlas-Bernabe.

The four dissenters are Justices Arturo Brion, Jose Perez, Jose Mendoza and Marvic Leonen. Justices Martin Villarama and Bienvenido Reyes were on leave during the voting while Justice Francis Jardeleza took no part in the deliberations since he handled the case when he was the Solicitor General.

Arnado was a natural-born Filipino citizen who became a US citizen. He reacquired his Filipino citizenship on July 10, 2008 and executed an affidavit of renunciation of his foreign citizenship on April 3, 2009.

However, Arnado used his US passport when he left the country on April 14, 2009 and when he returned on June 25, 2009 and again on July 29, 2009 and on November 24, 2009.

The Bureau of Immigration also issued a certification that as of April 21, 2010, Arnado was listed as an American citizen.

According to well-placed sources, the justices of the high court said Arnado is “almost similarly situated” with Poe.

One senior justice told fellow magistrates that the case is a “precedent” to the disqualification case filed against Poe, although the case against the senator has not reached the SC.

Rizalito David filed a disqualification case against Poe at the Comelec and the Senate Electoral Tribunal claiming that she is not a natural-born Filipino citizen.


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  1. mario san antonio on

    poe’s lack of UNDIVIDED ALLEGIANCE and her USING US PASSPORT (tantamount to saying ‘I am still an American’) after renouncing her US citizenship are clear reasons why she is disqualified… bye bye poe!

  2. Poe is already a senator.. So she cant be senator if she is disqualified for politics.. That person is running for mayor.. If she has problem with citizenship, she wont be able run in office long ago. But obviously, some opponent will do everything for her to go down cause she is a strong contender.. Even Mar asked her to step aside to be a VP for him and next time he will support her like what he did to Aquino.. But Poe knew she can win this. Thats the truth..

  3. If you renounced your US citizenship, don’t the US Embassy/State Dept. asked you to return your US passport automatically? As I know, if you’re a green card holder – you have to return the card once you’re done with your oath of allegiance and get your citizenship certificate. Isn’t it the same as when you renounced? So how could he still have a US passport?

  4. LA and fyi, just to clarify with you. The case of Arnado is not about being a naturalized US citizen or being a natural born citizen of the Philippiines. The case of Arnado is he used his US passport after renouncing his US citizen. The effect of his act is he undone his renunciation and therefore became a dual citizen again. Under RA 9225, dual citizens are not allowed to run for public office.

  5. When one took his oath to be an American citizenship ; he renounced his allegiance to his country of birth. He became a naturalized American by choice and when he wants to revert then you call him also a naturalized Filipino no longer a natural born Filipino because he chose to renounce it . The big difference is the choice he made by renouncing his birth right.

    • No. You are not correct. Read Bengzon vs. HRET. The SC said if you reacquire your citizenship, you will be restored to your prior status. If you are natural-born citizen before you became an American citizen and later you reacquire your Filipino citizenship, you will be restored to your status as a natural-born Filipino. Basa basa rin po tayo at ng malaman natin ang batas.

    • No. Acccording to the SC, being a natural-born will never be lost. Once you re-acquire it, you will be restored to our prior status as national born citizen. (Bengzon vs. HRET)

  6. If Mayor Arnado was born in the Philippines, then he is a natural-born Filipino. Period. Just because he obtained US citizenship does NOT change that fact. You cannot state that he is a natural-born American, because that would be a bigger fallacy. The citizenship issue is arguable, but to state that Sen. Poe or Mayor Arnado are not natural-born Filipinos is ludicrous. If their birth certificates state where they were born, why all the fuss?

    Has the supreme court lost its collective mind? Or are they being manipulated by more sinister forces?

    • Talaga lang ha. Where is the IQ? Hijo, your kind of reasoning does not erase the fact that the lady “senator” is a foundling – distinct and separate from a natural born citizen. Don’t be clouded by your fanaticism of the usurper of public office. Secondly, she and the adoptive mom will also be charged soon with perjury for those ridiculous claims in those documents. How can a mom who can never give birth claim that a daughter came out of her womb?

    • Maybe the Supreme court knows the difference between a naturalized and a Natural born citizen unlike you.

      Poe is not a natural born citizen she is a foundling which means someone found her outside a church and she was then adopted. Her famous parents used their connections to have a judge falsify a birth certificate and the rest is history.

    • I’ve read the decision. There is no problem with the natural-born citizen issue as he is really a natural-born citizen. Under RA 9225, any Filipino who re-acquired their Filipino citizenship shall renounce their foreign citizenship before they can seek public office. In the case of Arnado, he did it. He renounced his US citizenship but he did something that is fatal to his case, and that is he used his US passport after renouncing the US citizenship. Hence, he UNDO his renunciation. Binawi nya ang kanyang pagrenounce sa US citizenship sa paggamit ng passport. Kung kaya siya ay naging dual citizen ulit dahil sa paggamit nya ng passport. Dual citizens are not allowed to run for public office, they can vote but cannot be voted as per RA 9225.