THE POLITICAL season is “hotting up,” and some political witch doctors are trying to treat us like primitive Indians to some election magic. They want to exploit the ignorance of the ignorant, and bamboozle us into believing that the election period is already in full swing and that it’s time we chose the lesser of two evils for our next president.
Is it the truth? Not quite. We don’t even have any official candidates to choose from yet. They will be known officially only after they shall have filed their respective certificates of candidacy, some time in October.
What we have for now are presidential dreamers, aspirants, hopefuls, wannabes. Even Vice President Jejomar C. Binay, who has announced his bid as soon as he assumed office, is not yet officially a candidate. Not even Roxas, who had preceded Binay, after he gave way to PNoy’s wishes upon Cory Aquino’s death in 2010, and whom PNoy has just endorsed as his own bet for 2016.
At this point, we have not even completed the equivalent of the “primary” which we are witnessing today in the United States. The administration and opposition parties have not yet officially chosen their respective standard bearers, nor completed their national tickets, to allow us to see the start of the race. Therefore it is quite premature to expect the voters to make their definitive choices. It is not correct to suggest that the race has narrowed down to one between Binay and Roxas.
It has not. Mayor Rudy Duterte of Davao is still threatening to pack a surprise, and a sizeable horde of supporters is threatening to sweep the non-committal Bongbong Marcos onto center-stage by filing his certificate of candidacy without a prior declaration on the last day for the filing of certificates of candidacy on October 16. This could truly upset the entire apple cart.
But for now the two presidential hopefuls, Binay and Roxas, seem to have unusual difficulty identifying a viable teammate. To be fair, Binay’s problem may not be as serious as that of Roxas. For probably the best of reasons, Roxas has trained his eye on a female vice-presidential candidate, but he seemed to have failed to win the interest of any of the three women-politicians he has tried to win over to his cause.
Mayor Vilma Santos Recto of Lipa, Batangas, gave him a flat no, not only from herself but also from her senator-husband, Senator Ralph Recto.
Mrs. Leni Robredo of Camarines Sur, who now sits in Congress after her husband, the former DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo, was killed in an unexplained air crash while on an official mission in the Visayas, found some local political reason to say no too.
And Sen. Grace Poe Llamanzares, whose eligibility to run for president or vice president, or even to remain in the Senate, is being questioned before the Senate Electoral Tribunal, the Commission on Elections, and the independent press, for her not being a natural-born Filipino, has accused Roxas and the LP of double-dealing. While Roxas was trying to persuade her to run as his teammate, she said, his partymates were simultaneously attacking her for her not being a natural-born Filipino and not qualified to pursue the presidency or vice-presidency or even a seat in Congress.
She seemed to believe the LP was secretly behind the petitions filed by former Kapatiran senatorial candidate Lito David before the SET and the Comelec to unseat her from the Senate–a charge strongly denied by the LP and David as entirely without basis.
What is the real narrative?
It appears that some highly-paid law office identified with Roxas had compiled an extensive dossier on Mrs. Llamanzares’ s citizenship. The Roxas camp was prepared to spring this on her should she decide to challenge Roxas’s bid, but it was also prepared to shove it under the rug if she agreed to run as his vice-president instead.
The Constitution provides that no person may be elected president, or vice-president or member of Congress, unless he is a natural-born Filipino citizen, meaning to say a Filipino citizen from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect his citizenship. It appears that the Roxas camp was prepared to interpret this provision in whatever way it would serve its political ends.
Unfortunately, petitioner David jumped the gun on the Roxas camp.
Now, contrary to the thrust of the study reportedly made by the law office, Roxas is compelled to say he believes Llamanzares is a Filipino from birth. But this position cannot be defended without changing the Constitution itself and the facts of the case. By virtue of her having been born of unknown parents in Jaro, Iloilo on Sept. 3, 1968, Llamanzares was stateless upon birth.
She appears to have initially become a Filipino by claiming that she was the natural daughter of her adoptive parents, Fernando Poe Jr. and Susan Roces, who were married on Dec. 25, 1968, three months after the date of Mary Grace’s birth. The marriage was childless.
This misrepresentation invalidated her Philippine citizenship ab initio. But even if , for the sake of argument it did not, she finally lost her Philippine citizenship in 2001 when she became a citizen of the United States. In 2012, she renounced and lost her US citizenship. But in 2006, having returned to the Philippines, she applied for the reacquisition of Philippine citizenship under RA 9225 or the Dual Citizenship Law.
This law allows former natural-born Filipino citizens who had become citizens of a foreign country after RA 9225 took effect to reacquire their Philippine citizenship.
But Llamanzares was never a former natural-born Filipino citizen, and she became a US citizen before the Dual Citizenship Law was enacted. She cannot therefore reacquire her citizenship under the law. But by lying under oath, she was able to “reacquire” her citizenship. That has to be declared null and void ab initio. Now, being no longer an American citizen, and not being validly a Filipino, she is therefore a stateless person who cannot be considered for any position under our laws.
For Roxas to proclaim that Mrs. Llamanzares is a natural-born Filipino is to say that he has not understood the Constitution and is not prepared to preserve and defend it, as stated in the President’s Oath of Office. He would be a very dangerous man to have near the presidency. He has to retract his statement, commit himself to be bound by the real meaning of the Constitution, and assure Mrs. Llamanzares of every help she needs after she loses her Senate seat, in order to become a truly naturalized Filipino citizen according to our immigration laws.