Grace Poe’s residency
The Constitution states: “No person may be elected President (or Vice President) unless he is… a resident of the Philippines for at least 10 years immediately preceding such election.”
Equated with domicile. In election law, residence is equated with “domicile,” not necessarily with a person’s home address. A man may have several places of residence but has only one domicile. Or he may be a nomad or travelling salesman with no permanent home. Nonetheless, the law recognizes one domicile for him.
There are three kinds of domicile: 1) domicile of origin—that is, a child follows the domicile of the parents; 2) domicile by operation of law; and 3) domicile of choice made freely by a person of legal age.
Domicile of choice “imports not only the intention to reside in one fixed place but also personal presence in that place, coupled with conduct indicative of such intention. Domicile denotes a fixed permanent residence to which, when absent for business or pleasure or for like reasons, one intends to return.” In short, domicile of choice is a question of fact.
Settled jurisprudence recognizes three rules to determine a person’s domicile: First, everyone must always have one of the three kinds of domicile; second, once established, a domicile remains the same until a new one is acquired; and third, a person can have only one domicile at any given time.
Applied to Poe. Let us apply these legal concepts to Sen. Grace Poe. As a foundling found in Jaro, Iloilo, she acquired the domicile (and citizenship) of her parents who, according to “generally-accepted principles of law,” are presumed to be Filipinos. So, her domicile of origin is Jaro, Iloilo.
After she married an American and moved to and worked in the United States, she lost her domicile of origin and followed the domicile of her husband in America.
When she and her husband moved back for good here after the death of Fernando Poe Jr., she acquired a new domicile of choice in the Philippines. As to when she acquired it depends, as I will show later, on her clear intention, conduct and physical presence in the new location.
In Marcos vs Comelec (Sept. 18, 1995), the Supreme Court held that “the fact of residence, not a statement in a certificate of candidacy, [is] decisive in determining whether or not an individual has satisfied the Constitution’s residence qualification requirement.”
The Court said that Mrs. Imelda Marcos made an honest mistake in writing “seven months residence” in her certificate of candidacy for a congressional seat, a period less than the constitutional requirement of “not less than one year” for that position.
Similarly, Poe’s honest mistake in indicating her “residence” in her certificate of candidacy for the Senate to be only “six years and six months” is not binding proof of the length of her domicile here.
Recent jurisprudence. Cordora vs Comelec (Feb. 19, 2009) held that residency is not dependent on citizenship because even a foreigner can establish a Philippine domicile.
More clearly, Japson vs Comelec (Jan. 19, 2009) ruled that a former Filipino who was naturalized abroad may choose to reestablish his/her domicile here even prior to the reacquisition of citizenship under the Dual Citizenship Law (for details, see my last two columns).
Said the Court: “[I]n order to acquire a new domicile by choice, there must concur: 1) residence or bodily presence in the new locality, 2) an intention to remain there, and 3) an intention to abandon the old domicile…
“The purpose to remain in or at the domicile of choice must be for an indefinite period of time; the change of residence must be voluntary; and the residence at the place chosen for the new domicile must be actual.”
Moreover, Jalosjos vs Comelec (Oct. 19, 2010) ruled that the abandonment of a home in Australia, renunciation of Australian citizenship, reacquisition of Philippine citizenship and settling down in Zamboanga Sibugay show an “intent to change domicile for good.”
Maquiling vs Comelec (April 16, 2013) clarified, though, that the use of an American passport after a renunciation of American citizenship effectively reverses such renunciation and disqualifies one who reacquired citizenship under the Dual Citizenship Law from being elected to a public office.
To sum up, Poe’s intent to acquire a new domicile of choice (animus manendi) is proven by her return to the Philippines in the first half of 2005, the enrollment of her children here in June 2005, her purchase of a property in late 2005 and the construction of her family’s home in Quezon City in early 2006.
Her intent to abandon her old domicile (animus non revertendi) is shown by the delisting of her children from their American schools in May 2005 and the sale of her California home in April 2006.
Her physical presence here is evidenced by entries in her passport (which she said she submitted to the proper offices where it can be examined) and other authentic documents.
Based on these acts, facts, laws and jurisprudence (unless belied by contravening facts unknown to me), I believe Senator Poe will surpass the 10-year residency requirement come Election Day, May 9, 2016.
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Kudos to Dean Raul C. Pangalangan for his election as a judge of the International Criminal Court. For over 10 years, I tried to help him land a seat in our Supreme Court. But the Lord did not will it. Now I know why. Because he was meant for something bigger, loftier and better-suited to his unique specialization.
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