• The woman without a country?


    A petition to disqualify Grace Poe has been lodged by my pal, Dean Amado Valdez, with whom I am normally in agreement — and am I surprised when we differ. He contends that the Senator is not qualified in the 2016 presidential elections on the following grounds:
    1. Assuming that Grace Poe was a natural-born citizen, she lost her status as natural-born when she

    Renounced her Filipino citizenship in 2001 to become an American citizen. She never regained her natural born status. At best, she is a repatriated Filipino citizen under RA 9225.

    It seems to me being a natural-born Filipino is a one-time permanent thing. As Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion taught us in senior law, a natural-born Filipino “is one born a Filipino.” One is born only once. That concept, to me, is unchanging. One is a natural-born Pinoy, Martian or Manchurian Candidate. Losing one’s natural-born status seems an impossibility, like losing my birthplace of Mauban, Quezon, my sainted mother, my birth date, etc. Immutable. We cannot square the circle.

    2. She has not completed her ten-year residency reckoned, at the earliest, from july, 2006 when she re-acquired her Filipino citizenship, and at the latest on 20 october 2010 when she renounced her American citizenship.

    Residence was required to make sure one was aware of what was going on in the community and the country. For a caring Pinoy, that is now the easiest thing to do, without being physically present. We are talking of only a few months and therefore the issue has de minimis significance, if at all. The intent of the law is to exclude a stranger and a newcomer, unacquainted with the conditions and needs of the community and not identified with the latter. That may well be but it represents the best thinking of a jurassic era.

    When I was in Rizal High, I would walk two or three kilometers for lunch at home and to catch the one o’clock Sports Parade of Willie Hernandez, to find out how the New York Yankees had fared the day before. Today we can watch sports events world-wide, live. And edifying presidential debates.

    I chat with my family at home and then I am told my daughter Lara, with a doctorate in philosophy – children’s studies, now teaching tenure-track in New York, is there, on screen, to chat with her siblings here, live. There is the I-Pod, computer, cellphones, etc.
    that make it possible for concerned Pinoys abroad who care to follow daily what goes on here.

    Art. 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees against statelessness. Art. 25 says to care for love children. In Makati Elementary, we read about Philip Nolan, The Man Without a Country. Was Grace ever The Woman Without a Country?

    I may sound Emotionalized. I prefer Passionate, for all my life I have preferred to be on the side of the one being dumped on and kicked around. Do we kick around a Poe-Lot who comes to this world with two strikes against him/her? Underdogs, weeping alone, my kind of people, for whom I have worked, prayed and fought with that kind of passion that whips the blood.

    I don’t want the unelected Commission on Elections and the unelected Supreme Court ruling on the tough issue. Not even the partly elected Senate Electoral Tribunal, whose widely-admired Chair, Justice Tony Carpio, inexplicably and uncharacteristically prejudged Grace’s case on Day One, without waiting for all the arguments to be in, leaving him no wiggle room. He should have waited until after all the evidence and arguments are in.

    The choice of who will lead the country is the quintessential political question falling under its second kind.

    The concept of “political question” is limited to two: 1) when the matter is exclusively left to a body to decide, like disorderly behavior of a member of Congress for something said say, in a privilege speech; it may be questioned there but not in any other place, such as the courts; or 2) when it is left to the people to decide in their sovereign capacity.

    “But where the matter falls under the discretion of another department or especially the people themselves, the decision reached is in the category of a political question and consequently may not be the subject of judicial review.” I. Cruz and C. Cruz, Phil. Political Law 140 (2014).

    I may be wrong but I should not have to be blamed for something drilled in me by Chief Justice Concepcion in San Beda and Prof. Albert Sacks in Harvard Law and adopted by Justice Isagani Cruz and his son, Carlo.

    Let the sovereign people, the bosses, decide in a society that would be humane under our constitutional preamble.

    Am I voting for Grace? Decency I always associate with FPJ and Susan. Osmosis should work and result in Designer Genes.

    But, in fact, I have not made up my mind. It’s just that I don’t want any foundling being dumped on and kicked around. Art. 24 of the Civil Code says the system must be vigilant in protecting the handicapped, and ang putok sa buho, which Shakespeare lamented in King Lear, “Why bastard? wherefore base” – merits sympathy, understanding and compassion.

    Campaign against her but let her be among the cards to be dealt our people in 2016.

    * * *

    Letran dumped on San Beda in gloating as reported in the PDI last Saturday. Last Monday, I had lunch with Ting Cuna, a Red Lion in the time of Loyzaga. He recounted that once when Letran beat us by one point for the title, Letran graciously invited San Beda in the celeb-bash. Ting and brother Dading, a Red Lion teammate, went to Muralla. Letran could just have ignored us today but if it really wanted to give credit where credit was due, it could have invited the refs, the blind mice who helped make them win cuz of a miscall or noncall in the dying seconds, with Letran ahead by a point. As fellow biased Bedan Jude Roque wrote: “One expert, a retired FIBA Europe referee, said it best: `A double lane violation can only be called when both rebounders enter at the same time. But this is rarely seen in basketball. There’s always someone who comes in first, and his team gets the violation. Baiting an opponent is not within the spirit of the rules’.”

    None of this is to take away anything from Coach Ayo, Mark Cruz & Co., deserving champs. We salute you.


    Please follow our commenting guidelines.


    1. Grace Poe is a Filipino citizen. Below is the justification as to why she is considered a Filipino citizen. She DOES NOT have to reside continuously in the Philippines for at least 10 years because she was not born in a foreign country; she was born in the Philippines.

      Source: Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippine_nationality_law

      Loss and reacquisition of Philippine citizenship
      Commonwealth Act No. 36, dated 20 October 1936, provides that Philippine citizens may lose citizenship in any of the following ways or events:

      By naturalization in a foreign country;
      By express renunciation of citizenship;
      By subscribing to an oath of allegiance to support the constitution or laws of a foreign country upon attaining twenty-one years of age or more: Provided, however, That a Filipino may not divest himself of Philippine citizenship in any manner while the Republic of the Philippines is at war with any country.
      By rendering services to, or accepting commission in, the armed forces of a foreign country, and the taking of an oath of allegiance incident thereto, except in certain specified cases;
      By cancellation of the certificates of naturalization;
      By having been declared by competent authority, a deserter of the Philippine armed forces in time of war, unless subsequently, a plenary pardon or amnesty has been granted; and
      In the case of a woman, upon her marriage to a foreigner if, by virtue of the laws in force in her husband’s country, she acquires his nationality.
      Republic Act No. 8171, approved 23 October 1995, provided a mechanism allowing Filipino women who have lost their Philippine citizenship by marriage to aliens and natural-born Filipinos who have lost their Philippine citizenship, including their minor children, on account of political or economic necessity, to reacquire Philippine citizenship.[10]

      Republic Act No. 9225, approved 29 August 2003, provided that natural-born citizens of the Philippines who had lost their Philippine citizenship by reason of their naturalization as citizens of a foreign country would be deemed to have re-acquired Philippine citizenship upon taking an oath of allegiance to the Republic, and that their children whether legitimate, illegitimate or adopted, below eighteen (18) years of age, shall be deemed citizens of the Philippines.[11]

      . . .
      9 ^ An act providing for the ways in which Philippine citizenship may be lost or reacquired, Chan Robles Law Library, 20 October 1939, retrieved 2008-10-06.
      10^ An act providing for the repatriation of Filipino women who have lost their Philippine citizenship by marriage to aliens and natural-born Filipinos, Chan Robles Law Library, 23 October 1995, retrieved 2008-10-06.
      11^ Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003, Chan Robles Law Library, 29 August 2003, retrieved 2008-10-06.

    2. Sen. Saguisag is telling us he prefers the people to decide whether or not Grace Poe is a Filipino citizen and whether or not she is qualified to run for President after all the people are the ultimate source of power and authority to govern. In a true democracy the people collectively are the sacred repository of sovereignty. Hence, they are even higher than the COMELEC, Supreme Court and or Senate Electoral Tribunal. If the people choose Poe it means they consider her a Filipino citizen and the most qualified among the candidates to lead this country. If they reject her it means either they doubt her citizenship or her qualifications. Is the wisdom of few men holding public office better than the wisdom of millions of Filipinos to choose and decide who is best to lead this nation?

      So anyone who is backed up by the rich Chinese Filipinos and Beijing who builds up a name in the corrupt media–even if he is not really a natural born Filipino citizen but was smuggled in through the corrupt immigration officers–can become president of the Philippines 15 years from now? Marami8 niyang mga Tsinoy na ganyan dito sa Filipinas, Dr. Uy!!!

    3. Rolando V. Escamillan on

      Truly I Believe that Presidency is Destiny and if Grace Poe wins this race which many politician are afraid of. There are so many first that will happen in our Philippine History such as 1st Foundling to rise above others it never happen and it will not happen again,
      1st to win as an independent candidate or without any political party. 1st to win if the survey says more than 50% of the peoples vote…. 1st to win President and Vice President tandem under independent party and maybe in GODS will 1st to change our country and lead our country to its true destiny

      Do you mean that the Smartmatic PCOS-OMR machines are sent to the Philippines by God?

    4. Ramzi Tubloklawi on

      Let the sovereign Filipino people decide on Grace Po’s citizenship. I don’t believe that we should allow the opinions of a few people to overrule the will of the majority. Lets put it to a vote.

    5. Never in the history of philippine elections has a woman captured the attention of the public as has Grace Poe, That alone speaks volumes.. That she was a known ‘foundling’ only adds to the intrigue. Is she the ‘promised one’ who will deliver us out of bondage and into the ‘promised’ land?

      I have never seen the ‘status-quo’ so upset and intent on rejecting the ‘peoples’ #1 ranked candidate to lead them. Grace Poe deserves a study and then a restudy. I happen to believe she is what the country needs.

      We should pray without ceasing that she is allowed the opportunity to succeed.

    6. The Author Says:

      “I don’t want the unelected Commission on Elections and the unelected Supreme Court ruling on the tough issue. Not even the partly elected Senate Electoral Tribunal, whose widely-admired Chair, Justice Tony Carpio, inexplicably and uncharacteristically prejudged Grace’s case on Day One, without waiting for all the arguments to be in, leaving him no wiggle room. He should have waited until after all the evidence and arguments are in.

      The Author forgot, a country with out Supreme Court, is a country with out law.Yes, Supreme court, they were not elected by the people, but the President who appointed them were elected by the people.

      Parang hindi ka abogado Mr. Saguisag.

      • Sagisag definitely sounds like an abogago in this article. I can’t believe his reasoning. Why do we need the legislature to enact laws if we will not follow them? Why do we need the executive branch if it can not execute the laws that the legislature enacted? And why do we need the judiciary branch if it cannot interpret the laws that the executive need to enforce? Why do we even need the government if we don’t want to be governed? Why don’t we just live in anarchy, Mr Saguisag, huh? Perhaps we should just let the Chinese take over the whole archipelago since you give preference to this foundling that cannot make up her mind if she is a Filipino, American or a Filipino again. Think about it, you really want a foreigner governing you?

    7. Old brain Rene S. content, “Let the people decide”. Exactly right ! that is the essence of political election. But then there are election rules and required qualification for candidates. If election rules and candidate qualification requirement are discarded then even a sorcerer from outer space with its magic potion to gather vote can be president in demented skull of Rene Saguisag. Well I’m young with functioning brain and I insist. Election rules and candidates qualification must be imposed to the letters of the law because that is the reason why rules and laws are created BY the PEOPLE through authorize representatives. Rene S. had become lawless dork in his old age. The only benefit of his writings is for people to read the mind of dithering old demented man.

    8. Rene Saguisag’s arguments stalled the so called constitutional experts and legal luminaries for the disqualification of Grace Poe. The issue becomes a dead end and ad hominem to us common laymen. After all is said and done we should now decide on 2016 if she is a filipina or not qualified on this political decision.Depriving us this privilege is plain arrogance to usurp freedom of choice to lead his county.

    9. Tanong ko lang po: Parehas ba ang “natural born Filipino” at “natural born Filipino citizenship”?

    10. Natural born or not, I don’t care, what I care is I don’t want another woman on top. We have already put two women on the pedestal and they miserably failed to do their job. What we really need is a man who is brave, tough, and just. He must be just and right, a messiah that’s what this country needs. Let us put a man on top, not a woman again. Help me find the messiah.

    11. Im a brit living in the uk & i keep abreast of philippine events every day as my wife is a filipina. Grace poe as was written here was born in the Philippines & this writer is spot on in saying that will never change. She is pinoy through & through. Her husband & children are also pinoy. What more do you want. The important things are is she honest, is she intelligent, does she put country before self interest. Say yes to those & thats good enough for me.
      Do you want a thief as your president, because thats what you will get from some of these candidates should they win. I think its fully accepted grace is honest.

      • You’re so dusty! Do you really believe that this foundling is honest? Give me a break! She can’t even follow the rules for qualifications to run for the senate. She did not meet the requirements yet she made it look like she did. Do you call that honesty? Maybe for a brit. A brit does not know what citizenship is because a brit is a subject to a monarch, not a citizen!

    12. A personal birth data like birthplace, birth date, and birth mother are permanent unless in error and needs to be corrected. Once established, it is immutable.
      However, a person’s status like citizenship is temporary and mutable and can be lost.
      Since a person is born only once, a natural-born status is applicable only from birth up to a time it is renounced or lost. And like life, once lost, it cannot be regained.
      As a raw milk once pasteurized cannot be made raw again, a person citizenship once naturalized cannot be reverted back to its natural-born state.

    13. Mariano Patalinjug on

      Yonkers, New York
      13 Nov. 2015

      If the Senate Electoral Tribunal should rule against her being a “natural-born Filipino,” GRACE POE LLAMANZARES still has the option of going to the Supreme Court to get it to declare that the ruling of the SET is a mistake and that, in fact, she is a “natural-born” Filipino.

      The opinions expressed here or elsewhere, by anybody not connected with the SET or the Supreme Court, is just their own personal opinions–and will have no legal bearing whatsoever on her fate.

      In legal quarters, it’s called the “Rule of Law.”


    14. Sir, Thank you for your passionate “in defense” of Sen Grace Poe.
      Wasn’t she the first choice for VP by the LP? Neither citizenship nor residency was the issue. She was Ok to run for top post. But being in the opposition camp, LP and other political parties must try hard to pull her down. Very Filipino.
      I look forward to going to the polls come 2016, the ONLY next time around after Feb 1986. I look forward to a “bagong umaga.” Trapos are too sickening. More power to you, Sir!

    15. Poe is no different from those who are trying to cheat in this Election ! What honesty is she talking about ?

    16. If Grace Poe was previously considered a natural born Filipino, then this is what she regained in 2006, assuming the process she underwent then and all the requirements were fully complied with. (I’m just wondering why she didn’t surrender her US passport then). It is her period of residency that makes her ineligible to run for the presidency. If the law requires 120 months, then anything less will not do, not even 119 months. Very early on, we were taught that 75 is the passing grade, and 74 just fails; early lessons in life and I’m sure she learned this too. We should simply abide by the rules of the game. We cannot be overly tolerant at this stage when the game has not even started yet. If she was already elected when the questions were raised, maybe (just maybe) we can be tolerant and forgiving.

    17. If Grace Poe really want to serve the Filipino people she should run on 2022 presidential election instead to erase clouds of doubts. By then she already meet the 10 year residency by the constitution requirements. Plain in simple…..

    18. When former Senator RVSaguisag, who happens to be one of our principal wedding sponsors in 1989 but he just sent a proxy and never came to personally know us, speaks it was like the great Athenian orator Demosthenes’ reborn. Yes, many of us hoi polloi may not understand it but the fundamental laws aren’t cast in stone else we no longer need learned men and women to interpret them. Anything politically significant like Sen. Grace Poe-ndling’s fitness to lead this ‘scofflaw’ nation – let’s toss to the sovereign electorate to rule.

    19. Carlo Cruz-Rhuiz on

      Dean Amado Valdez is correct and you are wrong. By law and statutes, she may be accepted as natural-born… BUT SHE WILLFULLY AND KNOWINGLY RENOUNCED IT and the court is compelled to recognize her individual and willful choice as a free person.

      Being natural-born, is something you DO NOT APPLY FOR !…. and do not forget the word CITIZEN after NATURAL-BORN….

      Grace Poe’s WILLFUL choice as a free person and individual disqualified her. Democracy recognizes that freedom comes with responsibility. San Beda surely taught you that kind sir.

      • Carlo Cruz-Rhuiz on

        The court should recognize that at the time her NATURAL BORN FILIPINO CITIZEN status did not offer her any position of power or influence….,

        SHE DID NOT WANT IT, DID NOT RECOGNIZE IT ANYMORE… and thus, eventually RENOUNCED IT to be a citizen of another state.

        That was her own choice and surely came with CIVIL consequences. There is wisdom why such things can only be done when one is AT THE AGE OF REASON.

    20. Your argument “let the people decide” amounts to a mockery of the Constitution. You are forgetting that the qualification requirements set out in the Constitution are as much an expression of the sovereign will of the people as the collective act of the electorate in electing a President. The qualification requirements set out in the Constitution cannot be disregarded or taken lightly. Taken to the extreme, your argument would countenance a palpably non-Filipino citizen to run for President because, according to your argument, that matter is a “political question” and it would be best to leave that issue for the people to decide.

      I submit that your argument can be given some consideration ONLY in a situation where a previously unknown defect has come to light AFTER the body politic HAS ALREADY EXPRESSED ITS WILL, and the defect is not so material as to seriously defeat the rationale for the defined qualification requirement(s) for the person who was elected.

      Even in such a situation where the people has already decided, I would posit that the people’s “will” can be set aside as in a theoretical case where the person elected has committed gross misrepresentation with respect to one or more of the qualification requirements, such that it is reasonable to conclude that had the people known about the defect, the outcome of the election would be different.

    21. “I don’t want the unelected Commission on Elections and the unelected Supreme Court ruling on the tough issue.” very good mr. saguisag, i think you should avoid seeing more of ERAP because it muddles your bright ideas.

    22. The issue we presently have right now is citizenship, Grace Poe was born in the Philippines at Panay Island and nobody could deny about it. Logically, she was not born outside of the Philippines and she was adopted by the late FPJ and Susan Roces. Now she (Grace) grew up finished her school married and went to the USA and came back to the Philippines until she became a senator of this country. A lot of citizens of this country right now are giving their opinion that she is not a naturalized, abandoned our country, lack of residency, etc., but did they ever think who made and prepared the 1987 constitution? Presently we could noticed that some of the provision of the 1987 constitution is not relevant to the world we live right now, and mostly benefited the old rich of this country. Economic provision on the present constitution will not make our country a great nation for the people but only for the few. Now, legal opinion about Grace Poe based on our constitution would take years to be fully interpreted, considering that here on the Philippines we have so many lawyers. Checking the background of this people who wanted to disqualify Grace Poe will reveal that they have their agenda for somebody who wanted to get hold and control the political arena of our country. Isn’t it about time to make our constitution be relevant to our time and equal protection and fair representation on economic, social, political issue on every citizen of this country. If not, then we drastically need to undergo what every great nation in history have gone through!!!

    23. Mr. Saguisag.
      Your arguments is based on pa-drama, i.e. Using osmosis, wrong She is not a “POE”
      and therefore she could not claim to have the same genes as you said. It’s a Constitutional Issue and therefore must be resolved legally not pa-awa or the emotional Saguisag line of reasonings. Another thing, why do you address Her as POE not her
      married Surname. She doesn’t even lay down her qualifications to run for such a very
      high, demanding and complex Position. She can not even apply for an executive position in. Private Firm. As to decency, Fernando Poe, your kinda, hmn, Susan Roces maybe. Mr Saguisag why do you always make a big fuss of you San Beda and your
      Daughter’s (among others)qualifications, you don’t have to, no one is asking, “pasikatan” style. People knows you to be a GOOD MAN, and that’s enough.. I think
      Osmosis will work with your Children

    24. I am not a Poe supporter but a person that wants to do what is right and fair. If Poe lose the election, so be it. Filipinos has the chance of selecting from the choice of various candidates. But to disqualify her is inhuman and unfair. Win or lose, let the people decide. I will not vote for her but let us give her the chance to test the will of the majority. Also will anybody guarantee the Pilipino people that voting a natural born citizen will be good for the country. We have ex presidents that are in trouble right now. Both of them are natural born citizens.

    25. Of all the qualifications, citizenship is the most important as it stands for allegiance and loyalty. I do not agree that you should be a natural born. However, that is the rule. While we are at qualifications why don’t we just get rid of that useless age requirement.

    26. I agree with you Mr. Saguisag that a person never loses one’s natural born status even after being naturalized in another country and then returning to one’s home country because it is something that one does not acquire but is something which is part and parcel of one’s citizenship from birth.

      I have to disagree, however, with your point on residence. The Constitution says 10 years and not a day less. If we go by the argument of intent-of-the-law, then we might as well scrap this Constitutional requirement because we could just let a candidate join a seminar entitled “Philippines 101” and certify him or her to be acquainted with the “needs and conditions of the community.” Our Constitution is put there for our reason and for every provision comes with corresponding rights and obligations from certain identifiable persons and to play with one or so provisions means to play with the lives of the people to which it is subjected to.

      Our Constitution provides for what is to be put to the vote in general and what is to be submitted to a tribunal, and we cannot deviate from this because then there would be no point to having a constitution. Qualifications, as set out in the Constitution, of a national candidate are left to the scrutiny of certain constitutional bodies (e.g. SET, COMELEC) while qualified candidates are put to the vote by the people. To put the task of interpreting the provisions to the common people would do away with the purpose of the Constitution which is to be the most be basic but absolute legal framework of our land, and this is where disorder would start.

      We shouldn’t forego even one proviso of the Constitution for the sake of convenience because as Batman would say it (on refusing to kill even one person), “It always starts with one.”

    27. Would you keep your opinion even if you find out she is a daughter of Ferdinand Marcos, Atty. Saguisag?

    28. Regardless of the purpose of residency, it is mandated by the constitution that you have a minimum residency. To follow your argument would allow a newly minted Filipino eligible for public office, especially those that do not require natural born status. That is absurd. It is even absurd to have someone lead this country with questionable loyalty to its constitution which was renounced when an oath of allegiance to another country has been pledged. Huwag po tayong mamangka sa dalawang ilog. I am not in favoring anybody to be president but we should lay the ground rules and obey them. We knew what happened when Marcos did not follow the constitution.

      • teresita lorenzo on

        I can’t believe that one Rene Saguisag wrote this piece. The law is the law, there are wisdoms behind when in was being crafted and lawyers like cannot change it just to favor you and your “clients”. Has old age caught you? Really, Mr. Saguisag!!

    29. I definitely agree with you, Sen. Saguisag. We must respect everyone, including foundlings. Everyone has the right to citizenship. Who are we to judge and say they are stateless? Let the sovereign people decide.

      • so you’re saying that we throw all our laws to the garbage bin and just let the people decide on legal issues? why not abolish congress, sc, other courts, quasi-judicial bodies if we will follow mr. saguisag’s reasoning? that way we can save a lot of money but then who will collate the votes of the people who will decide on such questions or it will be just viva voce?

    30. Audie S. Vergara on

      Mr. Rene Saguisag, regardless of the many lawful interpretations re qualifications of Grace Poe to run for the Presidency in 2016, I find your articles to be the most sensible. I am not a Laywer but when I see an opinion in regards to an issue that is fair and equitable, I would equate that opinion to best represent the true meaning and intent of the law and, therefore, lawful regardless of the gray areas that others who are “learned” may find. I like your position on Poe. I wish we could have more people like you in government service.

    31. I agree with your points sir. Indeed it is a basic thing to learn in law that once a natural-born, you never really lose that status and become a naturalized filipino. Naturalization is not automatically conferred and had never been that way. It is the ethical thing to do to not say that foundlings are stateless or should not be a natural-born. it is depriving them of their basic rights and also taking away an opportunity to serve the country in the future. The people clearly speaks that they have accepted senator poe as a NBF since 2013, i think only her detractors disagree to take he rout from the race.

    32. Read the article carefully and agreed with it 100%. Grace’ case should be resolved correctly as such.

      Everyone knows in their hearts that she’s Filipino. Let the sovereign people decide.

      • Eduardo Siron Quizon on

        As one legal giant put it: The life of the law has not been logic, it has been experience.

      • But why did she renounce her Filipino citizenship and swore allegiance to another country, if in her heart she is truly a Filipino?

    33. The constitution has been a course requirement in high school, and i who do not have a chance to study under Concepcion or in Harvard, i thought that provision in the constitution is so basic and straight forward. Why invoke so many excuses just to give a chance to somebody of your liking, and not say anything to those hundreds who filed and disqualified already by the Comelec?