JUST like her late father, Sen. Grace Llamanzares Poe is being hounded by questions on her citizenship even if she is yet to categorically say that she will run for President next year.
The Manila Times was able to confirm over the weekend that Poe holds US and Philippine
Poe’s US passport was issued by the Washington Passport Agency on December 2011. It also showed that Poe was born in the Philippines on September 3, 1968.
Poe’s Philippine passport, on the other hand, shows Iloilo City as her place of birth. It was issued in Manila on May 16, 2014 and will expire on March 17, 2019.
Republic Act (RA) 9225 or the Citizenship Retention and Reacquisition Law allows dual citizenship. Under this law, natural-born Filipinos who later become naturalized citizens of other countries are deemed not to have lost their Philippine citizenship
Immigration records showed that Poe last used her US passport on December 27, 2009.|
“Most likely she is a dual citizen because she has also departure and arrival records using her Philippine passport. But lately she has been using her Philippine passport in almost all her travels abroad,” a reliable source at the Immigration bureau told The Manila Times.
The citizenship of Poe’s father, Fernando Poe Jr. (FPJ), was also questioned when he ran for President in 2004 against then-President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo.
Some groups claimed that Poe was not a natural-born Filipino, being an illegitimate child of an American mother, while his father was allegedly a Spaniard.
The Supreme Court ruled that the action-movie star FPJ was a natural-born citizen and thus qualified to run for an elective post.
Grace Poe has admitted that she was adopted by her parents.
But the circumstances on how she acquired her US citizenship remain unknown.
But an election lawyer said Poe’s citizenship as a natural-born Filipino has already been established when she ran for a Senate seat in 2013.
In an interview, Romulo Macalintal noted that Poe’s citizenship is not an issue and that the senator is qualified to run for the country’s highest political office.
Under the law, those who want to run for President should be natural-born Filipino citizens, able to read and write, at least 40 years old and have resided in the Philippines for at least 10 years.
Poe’s citizenship can be questioned because she was a “foundling” and there is no telling if her biological parents are Filipinos or not and how she acquired her US citizenship.
According to Macalintal, the United Nations Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness can justify Poe’s Filipino citizenship even if the citizenship of her biological parents is not known.
Article II of the UN convention states, “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 that State.”
“So if you apply the UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, she [Poe] is considered as a Filipino citizen, and she is a natural-born citizen,” Macalintal explained.
He said Poe renounced her US citizenship when she ran for the Senate in 2013.
“Even if you are a naturalized citizen of the US, the moment you renounce that, you automatically revert back to your natural-born Filipino citizen status under the dual citizenship act,” he further explained.
Macalintal cited the Supreme Court decision on the case of Antonio Bengson 3rd vs. Teodoro Cruz, wherein the court upheld the Filipino citizenship of the latter.
Cruz, a Filipino, took an oath of allegiance to the US when he joined the US Marine Corps but, when he returned to the Philippines years later, he applied for Filipino citizenship. He ran and won as district Representative of Pangasinan in 1998.
Bengson claimed that Cruz is not a natural-born citizen.
But the High Court ruled that Cruz regained his status as a natural-born citizen the moment he reacquired his Filipino citizenship through repatriation.
“So I don’t think there is any issue against Poe about her citizenship, she is qualified to run not only as natural-born citizen but as a competent Filipino citizen” Macalintal said.
Sen. Aquilino Pimentel 3rd agreed.
“She has been found to be qualified to be senator and the citizenship requirement for senator is the same for the President,” Pimentel, who heads the Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms and People’s Participation, said.
Poe said she was saddened by efforts to make an issue of her citizenship.
“I have always been honest about the circumstances of my birth,” Poe said in a text message.