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Sisyphus’ Lament

Duterte also proven to have US passport

Singapore—President Duterte is not Filipino under Article 263 of our Constitution. I give notice to Facebook it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, or take any other action against me based on this profile and/or its contents. The violation of privacy can be punished by law (UCC 1-308-1 1 308-103 and the Rome Statute)…

…this is complete nonsense. There is no Article 263. The Rome Statute cited in the above viral Facebook hoax established the International Criminal Court.

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To quote President Duterte, “Ang mga buang, naniwala rin!” (The fools, they believed!)

News reports can unwittingly spread fake law, like Facebook hoaxes.

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Is it fake law to report that lawyer Greco Belgica filed a disbarment case against Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales last March 24, without citing the well-known rule that an Ombudsman cannot be disbarred?

This detail is key for us who idolize an Ombudsman who cannot be bought, intimidated, or told she is too old!

To ensure her independence, the Ombudsman is removed only by impeachment under Article XI of the Constitution.

Article XI also requires her to be a lawyer. If the Ombudsman could be disbarred, she could be removed without being impeached, contrary to the Constitution. Thus, she may not be disbarred.

The Supreme Court upheld this in the 2005 Mojica case, as first semester law students know. It threw out a 1995 disbarment case against Ombudsman Aniano Desierto, and a 1988 case against Justice Marcelo Fernan—as the same logic applies to justices.

Rappler quoted excerpts of the Mojica case. GMA News cited Mojica, and former Sandiganbayan presiding justice Edilberto Sandoval, former UST law dean Nilo Divina, and myself.

The Inquirer described Belgica’s theory that the Ombudsman can be given lighter punishment short of disbarment, but did not explicitly cite Mojica.

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Every other report omitted Mojica’s crucial context.

Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano is not Filipino, claimed lawyer Rodel Rodis’ March 16 and 21 Inquirer.net columns. He cited a nonexistent law that made Cayetano choose between Filipino and American citizenship when he turned 21.

Under the 1935 Constitution, the child of a Filipino mother and non-Filipino father could choose to be Filipino upon reaching the age of majority. (This was removed in 1973 as it discriminated against mothers. The child of any Filipino parent is now automatically Filipino.)

This ancient rule obviously could not apply to Cayetano. As Rodis himself stated, Cayetano’s father (not his mother), the late Sen. Rene Cayetano, was Filipino and his mother was American. Cayetano was born a Filipino-American dual citizen, possible even before our 2003 dual citizenship law.

Any child old enough to know the difference between mother and father can read Article IV of our Constitution and decry how Rodis cited fake law.

Inquirer.net reported Cayetano’s vehement denial, and cited me as saying Rodis cited a nonexistent law. No other report questioned Rodis’ basis.

Fake law abounds. My 2013 column, “The fake Comelec constitutional crisis” detailed how lawyer Rod Vera accused President Benigno Aquino III of violating a nonexistent constitutional provision. The issue astoundingly persisted for five days.

In 2015, historian Ambeth Ocampo and I clarified that the “Venice Charter” cited by anti-Torre de Manila pundits is not a law, nor did our country sign it.

We cheer our Ombudsman’s response: “I am ready to meet head-on any complaint, anytime, anywhere. Wish them luck!” This emboldens us like Jyn Erso’s, “Rebellions are built on hope.” But it should have been made clear that the legal attack on our hero is not a Death Star, but a lone stormtrooper who cannot shoot straight.

Basic legal rules are facts, not opinion. It rewards fake law when journalists passively report baseless legal conclusions—such as President Duterte being American—and wait for other lawyers to refute these.

In an age of alternative facts, those without the tagline “not a journalist” have no choice but to more actively protect the buang from blatantly fake law.

React: [email protected], Twitter @oscarfbtan, facebook.com/OscarFranklinTan.

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TAGS: American, citizen, Constitution, Duterte, fake, fake law, fake news, hoax, opinion, US passport
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