Poe met ‘twin requirements’ to run for elective post | Inquirer Opinion

Poe met ‘twin requirements’ to run for elective post

12:16 AM October 10, 2015

A natural-born Filipino citizen who later became a naturalized citizen of another country may regain his former status as a natural-born Filipino citizen by merely swearing to an oath of allegiance (OA) prescribed under Section 3 of Republic Act No. 9225 (Citizenship Retention and Reacquisition Act of 2003). Thereafter, he becomes a “dual citizen”—i.e., a Filipino citizen because he is deemed, by law, “to have reacquired Filipino citizenship”; and a foreign citizen because he has not yet renounced his foreign citizenship.

As a dual citizen, he enjoys civil and political rights, such as, but not limited to the exercise of the right of suffrage. However, once he decides to hold public office in the Philippines, whether elective or appointive, he has to renounce his foreign citizenship by executing an affidavit of renunciation (AR) of his foreign citizenship at the time of the filing of the certificate of candidacy or before assuming the appointive office.

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These are the so-called “twin requirements”—swearing to an OA and executing an AR—to qualify such Filipino to an elective or appointive position in the Philippine government.

From the foregoing premises, we could clearly analyze the recent citizenship case decided by the Supreme Court involving Mayor Rommel Arnado of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte, (who ran for and won the mayorship in the 2010 and 2013 elections) and its implication to Rizalito David’s quo warranto petition against Sen. Grace Poe.

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OPINION

Arnado was a natural-born Filipino citizen who was naturalized in the United States and later reacquired his Filipino citizenship after taking an OA and executing an AR of his US citizenship on April 3, 2009. However, despite his having executed said AR, Arnado continued using his US passport. Thus, he was disqualified by the high court, saying that his continued use of his US passport had effectively negated, recanted or invalidated his AR of US citizenship.

Take note: The Court clarified that the use of US passport “does not divest one of the reacquired Filipino citizenship” but merely results to a “recantation of the Affidavit of Renunciation” which, as stated above, is one of the twin requirements to hold a public office, whether elective or appointive.

In other words, the use of a foreign passport merely results to a disqualification from holding a public office, not because he is no longer a Filipino citizen but merely because he lost one of the twin requirements for holding public office. But once he again executes an AR, he qualifies again to hold a public office. As a matter of fact, the Court held: “[T]here is no law prohibiting Arnado from executing an Affidavit of Renunciation every election period if only to avert possible questions about his qualification.”

Poe’s case is not the same as Arnado’s. From her answer to David’s petition as released to the media, it appears that she used her US passport after she executed her OA on July 7, 2006. But when she was appointed chair of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, she executed on Oct. 20, 2010, an AR of her US citizenship. Since then, up to the present, she never used her US passport again.

Clearly, as held by the Court in Arnado’s case, Poe’s use of her US passport before she executed her AR did not affect her reacquisition of her natural-born Filipino citizenship under RA 9225, as the mere use of such passport “does not divest Filipino citizenship regained by repatriation.” To reiterate, what will disqualify her is if she uses the US passport after executing the AR.

Thus, when she ran for senator in 2013, she had fully complied with the “twin requirements”—an OA to the Republic of the Philippines and an AR of her US citizenship—which qualified her to run for and hold any elective public office, as a natural-born Filipino citizen.

—ROMULO B. MACALINTAL, election lawyer, Las Piñas City

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