“No es sueño la vida.;Alerta!; Alerta! ;Alerta!
Nos cameos por la escalera para comer la tiera humedia”
(Life is not a dream. Careful! Careful! Careful!
We fall down the stairs in order to eat the moist earth)
–Ciudad del Sueño by Federico Garcia Lorca
The start of the surveys was like a dream for VP Jejomar Binay. He topped all existing surveys until Senator Grace Poe finally announced her availability for the presidency of the realm. Then VP Binay’s fortune changed. His poll ratings started to fall – falling, falling, falling while that of Senator Poe started rising, rising, rising –now almost to a crescendo.
Finally, Binay realized that life is not a dream after all. While enjoying the pleasures of being at the top of the polls, he should have started reading Federico Garcia Lorca, the brilliant Spanish poet, to inject some humility into his system.
The Poe citizenship
If there would be elections in May 2016, what’s delaying Poe’s march to victory? The issue of whether Poe is a natural born citizen, for the moment, serves as the hindrance to what surely would be a Poe triumph in the 2016 elections.
But is Senator Poe really a natural born Filipino citizen? Earlier, I offered an opinion that she is no longer a natural born Filipino citizen because she became an American citizen and, therefore, she lost her status as a natural born citizen. I am afraid I have to reverse myself after serious and painstaking study.
Citizenship is a legal concept. Being natural born is an issue of fact. Is Senator Poe natural born in this country? Of course, she is. That she was born in this country is not disputed; that makes her natural born.
The fine points at issue on whether Senator Poe is a natural born Filipino are the following: First, becoming an American citizen, did she lose her Philippine citizenship? She did. Second, but did she lose the fact that she is natural born in the Philippines? Of course not! She lost her Philippine citizenship but she did not lose her being natural born here. Third, when she reacquired her Philippine citizenship, did she reacquire being natural born? Of course, she did because being natural born is an issue of fact and she was born in the Philippines.
What is the pertinent Constitutional provision involved in this issue? It is section 2, Article IV of the Constitution which states:
“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…”
Based on this definition of a natural born citizen, it is quite obvious that Senator Poe is a natural born citizen. An added argument to this provision of the Constitution is section 3 of the same article of the Constitution which states:
“Philippine citizenship may be lost or reacquired in the manner provided by law.”
What is the law involved in the case of Senator Poe? It is Republic Act No. 9225 which became a law on August 29, 2003 known as the “Philippine Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003.” The pertinent provisions in this law that govern the case of Senator Poe are as follows:
“Section 2. Declaration of Policy – It is hereby declared the policy of the State that all Philippine citizens of another country shall be deemed not to have lost their Philippine citizenship under the conditions of this Act.”
“Section 3. Retention of Philippine Citizenship – Any provision of law to the contrary notwithstanding, natural born citizenship by reason of their naturalization as citizens of a foreign country are hereby deemed to have re-acquired Philippine citizenship upon taking the following oath of allegiance to the Republic: “
xxx xxx xxx
“Section 5. Civil and Political Rights and Liabilities – Those who retain or re-acquire Philippine citizenship under this Act shall enjoy full civil and political rights and be subject to all attendant liabilities and responsibilities under existing laws of the Philippines and the following conditions:
xxx xxx xxx
“(2) Those seeking elective public office in the Philippines shall meet the qualifications for holding such public office as required by the Constitution and existing laws and at the time of the filing of certificate of candidacy, make a personal and sworn renunciation of any and all foreign citizenship before any public officer authorized to administer an oath.”
All these constitutional and statutory provisions qualify Senator Poe to run for the presidency of the Republic since the senator has complied with the constitutional and statutory requirements at the time she filed her certificate of candidacy for the Senate since under section 3 of Article VI of the Constitution to be a natural born citizen is also a requirement to be a senatorial candidate.
All told, Senator Poe does not have to prove that she is a natural born citizen. Under this jurisdiction, the one who alleges that she is not a natural born citizen should prove it. It is only until then that she should present contradicting evidence.
Anyone who says at this point that Senator Poe should present DNA test results that show that she has relatives who are Filipino citizens is peddling a lot of nonsense. Why the lawyers of Senator Poe should have her subjected to the ignominy of a DNA test escapes me. They should do their home work.
As the papers report, Justice Antonio Carpio who is the Chairman of the Senate Electoral Tribunal gave the opinion that Senator Poe is not a natural born citizen. To begin with, as Chairman of the SET he has no business giving that opinion since there is still no decision of the SET. This is indicative of bias and partiality on his part in favor of the petitioner. He should inhibit himself under paragraph 2, section 1, Rule 137 of the Rules of Court and the long line of decisions of the Supreme Court which are applicable to the SET. Moreover, as Representative Silvestre Bello has stated in the papers that Carpio is connected to the lawyer of the petitioner. So this is another evidence of bias on the part of Carpio. He should inhibit now because of his bias and partiality and for offering an opinion that cannot stand the test of judicious scrutiny.
Oath in this country has no value
Moreover, to put so much emphasis on oath in a country like ours is outlandishly technical. To start with, who really cares about oath in this country? Let us take the case of President PNoy. His oath under section 5, Article VII of the Constitution reads:
“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully and conscientiously fulfill my duties as President of the Philippines, preserve and defend the Constitution, execute its laws, do justice to everyman and consecrate myself to the service of the nation. So help me God.”
Has PNoy observed his oath? Any fool knows that he has violated his oath in all directions. He is the emperor with no clothes. He is so naked and transparent that you cannot help asking yourself this question: How stupid could the Filipino voters be to elect this man as President? Well, there are these reasons, from my point of view.
First, the Filipino, especially the voter, has been rendered stupid, dense and incompetent by the oligarchs, the politicians and other vested interest because that is the surest way for them to retain political and economic power.
Second, the Filipino has been pre-conditioned by the same powerful interests that everything that goes on in this country is in the natural course of things.
Third, people have been conditioned to believe that even if the natural course of things is criminal, there is nothing anybody can do about it.
Fourth, the powerful interests think that the people are helpless because they have no money, therefore powerless.
This is the reason why the people are not moving and accepting, with almost complete resignation, their day-to-day unjust and oppressive conditions. But is the claim that the people are powerless valid? Of course not! As the late Dolphy would have it – Dassa lot of nonsense.
It is sad that a woman like Senator Poe is wasting away the great moral force that she has in her hands by behaving like a traditional politician. She will likely win with the support of PNoy but that is Pyrrhic victory because she will just end up like Cory and PNoy and when the genuine history of the country will be written – and it will be whether the prevailing powerful interests like it or not–she will be nothing but dust in the dustbin of history.
As I have said over and over again, as of the moment, we need elections like a hole in the head. In true leadership and democratic context, Senator Poe has yet to undergo a seminar for six years to qualify for the presidency of the Republic, just like the rest of the pack. However, if she really loves this country, she should use that moral force in awakening the people to become the political tsunami that will sweep away the present political, economic and social system – the oppression, the injustice, the ignorance, the crooks, the grafters, the drug lords, the smuggling syndicates, the gambling lords, the corrupt, the pretenders and the other criminals.
She cannot do all these by becoming president. She can do these with other kindred souls by being at the vanguard in the revolt of the masses.