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Renouncing one’s motherland

/ 01:24 AM September 17, 2015

You can’t have it all back. That’s what I want to happen, if I had my way, to those who had once officially renounced their loyalty to their motherland. Sure, you can have most of it back, but not all of it, such as one little thing: aiming for the presidency of the land. That is not too much to give up.

You can come back, but it is not like love the second time around. If you were once with us, then were not with us, and, later, were with us again, has nothing changed at all? Some things should’ve changed. Some things you should’ve lost somewhere along the way.

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You can’t have left us and say you never really left us. That line is better used as lyrics for a song. In fact, you renounced us. It was not treachery on your part, not at all; you just preferred them to us and that is your right.

I am not talking about physically leaving the motherland for whatever reason, with hopes to come back. This is about renouncing one’s country to embrace another, for whatever reason, and taking an oath of allegiance to another. Just the same, it is renunciation.

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Questions about Grace Poe’s citizenship as a newborn foundling should have been put to rest by now. She was a Filipino at birth, at the time she was found and at the time she was adopted and loved by her Filipino parents, show biz royalty Fernando Poe Jr. and Susan Roces. She was a Filipino until…

Enough of the statelessness issue already, as there is no such thing for newborns unless they are non-earthlings dropped from outer space. Case closed. Really, for a while there, having a true-to-life foundling becoming president seemed so cinematic, so fairy-tale-ish, so only-in-the-Philippines, one couldn’t help wishing it would come true. And it could come true.

Besides the questions about citizenship which should be closed by now, there is the question of residency—that is, whether Poe had enough of it before she ran for an elective position, which was for senator, and now for the presidency.

But the gut issue—or heart issue, if you will—is loyalty. Loyalty is hard to qualify and quantify. The print on paper on renunciation day says it simply. Are you for us or against us?

In his commentary in this paper’s Opinion section (“Shattered loyalty,” 9/8/15), former Albay representative Edcel Lagman provided the full text of the oath that Poe pronounced. To quote some lines:

“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by law… So help me God.” In this context, “abjure,” in Filipino, is iwinawaksi, tinatalikuran.

One’s shift in loyalty—on paper—can’t get any clearer than that. But what is in one’s heart and mind? Who can know what was in Poe’s heart and mind then? But Poe has regained her Philippine citizenship. And there’s the fact that if she becomes president, then American citizens (such as her husband and children) will be occupying the presidential residence with her. What if she were president, and US and Philippine interests clashed?

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During the Marcos dictatorship, many Filipino patriots sought asylum abroad to escape persecution and, while there, continued the fight for freedom. Among them were President Noynoy Aquino, who was an exile along with his parents, Ninoy (assassinated upon his return in 1983 at the then Manila International Airport)) and Cory (who would become president of the Philippines and its revolutionary government in 1986), as well as Raul Manglapus, Jovito Salonga, Serge Osmeña, Heherson Alvarez, Charito Planas, Gaston Ortigas. They never renounced their Philippine citizenship; they came back as soon as democracy was restored. Some became elected officials. They never renounced the land of their birth.

So, to paraphrase Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo, do Filipinos deserve a president who once renounced his or her Filipino citizenship—that is, her loyalty to this country? The question is not a legal one, she said, it is about having turned your back on your country. “Tinalikuran mo ang iyong bansa” were the words she used.

The reason for renouncing could be economic, familial or political, but just the same, you chose them over us. Millions of other Filipinos have done that, and that is not to be taken against them. There’s no law—but why shouldn’t there be?—that says if you had once renounced your motherland, you are unqualified to be president. But those “Pinoy-once” do not lose sleep over becoming president of the Philippines. Why should they? They have other distant dreams to reach. But I’d like to think that the motherland is in their hearts.

When Poe, along with her husband and three children, decided to settle in the United States and renounced her Philippine citizenship in 2001, was loyalty and running for president someday (like her actor-father did) in her thoughts?

Questions on citizenship and residency can be easily resolved with some research and arithmetic. What about loyalty? Listen: “I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity…” I shudder when I imagine Filipinos uttering those words against the beating of their hearts.

Loyalty is a basic issue for me. Capability, character, charisma, intelligence, dedication, integrity, honesty, spirituality—Poe can have all of these, but loyalty and renunciation should strike deep for both the renouncer and the renounced. Perhaps deeper for the renounced. That is my opinion, and it is not the law.

I still have to find out what oath one takes—the wording of it, and it should better ring bloody poetic, with a sting to it (may kurot)—to regain Philippine citizenship.

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Send feedback to [email protected] or www.ceresdoyo.com.

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TAGS: Citizenship, Edcel Lagma, Grace Poe, leni robredo, loyalty
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