Reactions to ‘Grace Poe’s residency’ | Inquirer Opinion
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With Due Respect

Reactions to ‘Grace Poe’s residency’

Last Sunday, I wrote that Sen. Grace Poe’s domicile of origin was Jaro, Iloilo, where, as a foundling, she was found. After her marriage to her American husband and immigration to the United States, California became her domicile by operation of law.

Is Poe disqualified? When she and her husband moved back here for good after the death of Fernando Poe Jr., she acquired a new domicile of choice in the Philippines. Her physical presence here is evidenced by entries in her passport and other authentic documents.

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Because several acts showing her intent to remain here occurred in 2005 and early 2006, I concluded that by Election Day (May 9, 2016), she would surpass the 10-year residency requirement for candidates for the presidency and vice presidency (unless her said acts are contravened by facts unknown to me).

To support my conclusion, I cited relevant decisions of our Supreme Court, like Maquiling vs Comelec (April 16, 2013), which clarified 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 and holding a public office.

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Comes now an e-mail from Agueda Kahabagan (probably a pen name) saying that immigration records “showed Poe arriving in the Philippines using a US passport on Nov. 9, 2003, Dec. 13, 2004, Sept. 2005, March 11, 2006, July 5, 2006, July 23, 2007, Oct. 5, 2008, May 21, 2009, and Aug. 3, 2009.”

Kahabagan further says “Poe also used her US passport for her departures on July 2, 2006, July 26, 2006, Sept. 11, 2006, Nov. 1, 2006, Oct. 31, 2007, April 20, 2009, July 31, 2009, and Dec. 27, 2009, aboard Philippine Airlines Flight 112.” Then she asks: Under the Maquiling vs Comelec ruling, is Poe disqualified from running for president or vice president?

Use of US passport fatal? Having read a similar e-mail of Kahabagan in the Inquirer website, a reader who requested anonymity claims that Poe renounced her American citizenship in October 2010, after she used her American passport on Dec. 27, 2009, and that she had not used it again since then.

As I said in my column last Sunday, the acquisition of a domicile of choice is a question of fact. If Mr. Anonymous is factually correct, then the Maquiling ruling will not affect Poe and her residency would still surpass the 10-year requirement come Election Day.

If he is factually wrong, all that Poe needs to do, in my humble view, is to renounce again her American citizenship prior to filing her certificate of candidacy if she decides to run in 2016. In the Maquiling case, the Court saw nothing wrong in executing more than one affidavit of renunciation of foreign citizenship.

Significantly, the Court added that though the use of a foreign passport after renouncing one’s foreign citizenship disqualifies that person from running for and holding a public office, “it does not divest Filipino citizenship regained by repatriation” under the Dual Citizenship Law.

(Parenthetically, Maquiling vs Comelec also decreed that if the candidate garnering the highest number of votes is disqualified, the candidate getting the second highest number shall be declared elected.)

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Neither is residency interrupted by the taking of an oath of renunciation of foreign citizenship or of an oath of allegiance to the Philippines because, as held in Japson vs Comelec (Jan. 19, 2009), a former Filipino who was naturalized abroad may choose to reestablish his/her residency prior to the reacquisition of citizenship. Verily, Cordora vs Comelec (Feb. 19, 2009) held that even foreigners may establish their domicile here.

Consequently, such renunciation did not divest Poe of her natural-born citizenship and residency when she ran for the Senate in 2013. Neither will it disqualify her from running, if she decides to, for higher office in 2016.

Reader Andrew Ramoso sent this query: In enumerating the qualifications for elective offices, why did the Constitution use the terms “resident of” when it actually meant “domiciliary of”?

I had the same question when I was still a law student: For the easy understanding of the Constitution, why did the framers use the word “residence” instead of “domicile”?

Answer: The law has its own interchangeable technical words in the same way that medicine has its tongue-twisting terminologies better memorized by physicians when they scribble seemingly inscrutable medical prescriptions.

Are you for Poe? Several readers asked: Are you campaigning or voting for Grace Poe? In law, this is called a “misleading question” because it assumes a fact not yet proven or not yet in existence. It assumes that Senator Poe is a candidate for higher office in 2016.

However, she herself has repeatedly said she has not decided whether to run in 2016, and if she does, for what position. My columns on her citizenship and residency are my objective legal views; they are not political endorsements.

Since she is not a candidate, I cannot answer whether I will vote for her or not. Until I know 1) that she is a candidate, 2) for whatever position, 3) her platform of government, and 4) the opposing candidates and their platforms, I cannot answer the question.

I make my election choices on the basis of who the candidates are, their qualifications for the offices they aspire for, their principles and platform of government, their character, and their ability to carry out their principles and platform.

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TAGS: 2016 Elections, domicile, Grace Poe, residency
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