ORTIGOZA: Super Dry Beers and Grace Poe
I was into my third San Miguel Super Dry beer and a plate of Cebu grilled chicken at the ChickBoy Restaurant in Robinson Mall recently when a judge joined me on my table.
I asked him to get some beers so we can have an animated conversation that usually evolves on politics. He told me he would just avail of the free lunch I offered as he had a meeting with some folks an hour later.
We discussed whether presidential candidate Grace Poe is a natural born or cesarean born, er, naturalized citizen who was born Filipino after four petitioners filed a case for her disqualification at the Commission on Election.
As you know the cases filed by former Senator Francisco “Kit” Tatad, Government Service and Insurance System chief legal counsel Estrella Elamparo, De La Salle University political science professor Antonio Contreras, and former Dean Amado Valdez vary from her questionable citizenship to the number of years she resided in the Philippines after she married a Filipino – American citizen.
Here was what ensued with that encounter with my friend:
JUDGE: She cannot be a natural born citizen because Section 2 Article IV (Citizenship) says “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. Remember Mortz the operative words “without having to perform any act”,” he told me.
She could not be natural born and run for the presidency because she performed an act on the Citizenship Retention and Reacquisition Act of 2003.
ME: But what about “Repatriation”? It is a performance but it is encouraged by Section 3 that says Philippine citizenship may be lost or reacquired in the manner provided by law.
I told him that “Repatriation” was defined in Bengzon v.HRET and Cruz in May 7, 2001 by the Supreme Court.
The high court decided there if what was lost was natural citizenship for the applicant then that is what he or she will reacquire.
(NOTE: Bengzon versus Cruz, G.R No.142840, was a land mark Supreme Court decision about a Pangasinanense who joined the U.S Marine in November 5, 1985, took an oath of allegiance to the United States, returned to Pangasinan and won a congressional seat against rival Antonio Bengzon III)
“As defined in the same Constitution, natural-born citizens “are those citizens of the Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire of perfect his Philippine citizenship.” On the other hand, naturalized citizens are those who have become Filipino citizens through naturalization, generally under Commonwealth Act No. 473, otherwise known as the Revised Naturalization Law. (Teodoro) Cruz was not naturalized but repatriated. Repatriation may be had under various statues by those who lost their citizenship due to: (1)XXX; (2)XXX; (3) service in the Armed Forces of the United States at any other time; (4) marriage of a Filipino woman to an alien; and (5) XXX,” the Supreme Court said on that jurisprudence.
I cited to my judge friend, who was eating his sizzling sisig, Republic Act 9225 or An Act Making the Citizenship of Philippines who Acquire Foreign Citizenship Permanent passed by Congress and signed into law by President Gloria M. Arroyo in April 2003.
If we read Section 3 or the Retention of Philippine Citizenship, the Act said that 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:
Natural –born citizens of the Philippines who, after the effect of this Act, become citizens of a foreign country shall retain their Philippine citizenship upon taking the aforesaid oath”.
One of the logics of the members of the Constitutional Commission that hammered the Philippine Constitution was that dual citizenship of the woman because of her marriage to her foreign husband was beyond her control as it is the law of the land of the alien husband.
Republic Act 9225 talks about “Repatriation” that was used by the high court in giving back the natural born citizenship of former Teddy Cruz, the friend of my media friend Harold Barcelona.
It gives too to the citizenship of any Filipino who lost it.
So what was the fuss about Grace Poe not a natural born citizen of the Philippines and thus barred for the race to the presidency?
Bengzon vs. Cruz and Republic Act 9225 back her up for her natural citizenship that she availed with her three kids in 2006.
“But she lacks the ten year residency if we count it from 2006?” probably some critics posed here as they are reading this article.
Poe was in the Philippines in June 2005 when she enrolled her children.
May 2016 minus June 2005 equals 10 years and 11 months.
Who said that the ten year residency was juxtaposed with the oath taken in 2006 to avail Republic Act 9225?
“Ang citizenship at residency hindi magka pareho iyan. Sapagkat you can be considered a resident of a country without necessarily being from that country. Lahat po iyan ang nasasagot namin (Citizenship and residency are different. You can be considered a resident of a country without necessarily being from that country. All of those charges my camp have rebutted),” she told me in Pangasinan when I asked her last month about the residency and citizenship issues.
Anyway, this ten year residency, an American copy cat of the Philippine Constitution on the provision of the U.S 14 years’ residency, was a law since the time of George Washington.
The presidential experienced of Herbert Hoover in 1928 could be a good example to explain if the residency is consecutive or cumulative.
According to usconstitution.net:“We have precedent to help resolve the question. Herbert Hoover was elected to the presidency in 1928 and inaugurated in 1929. If the “consecutive” interpretation were correct, Hoover would have had to live in the United States since March, 1915. Hoover, however, lived in London, England, during that time frame. The Court Directory of London listed a London address for Hoover from 1910 to 1917. If, therefore, the “consecutive” interpretation is not the correct one (or, at least, is disproved by precedent), only the “cumulative” interpretation remains”.
The website moreover explains the cumulative doctrine that if a child of 14 years leaves the U.S. and returns at the age of 50, the person would be eligible to be president, because the 14 years were accumulated at the beginning of the child’s life.
As to the interpretation that a president should possess a 14 years consecutive residency could prejudice many candidates for the presidency.
“The requirement could disqualify many people, including those doing diplomatic or military service, or those doing business outside the country. Though the law can make exceptions for national service, it seems unlikely that the Framers would have wanted to disqualify a business person who lived overseas for a short time a dozen years ago,” usconstitution.net stressed.
So my dear Procopio since Philippine Supreme Court adopts jurisprudence of its country’s former colonizer the U.S, it must be inculcated in our minds that residency issues, just like what Grace Poe faces, should be liberally construed in her favor notwithstanding what the laws mandate for it.
(You can read my selected columns at http://mortzortigoza.blogspot.com and articles at Pangasinan News Aro. You can send comments too at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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