Kauswagan case no effect on Poe’s case | Inquirer Opinion

Kauswagan case no effect on Poe’s case

01:44 AM February 29, 2016

THE DECISION of the Supreme Court in the Kauswagan case will not have any adverse effect on Sen. Grace Poe’s citizenship case.

The Kauswagan case involved an elected mayor (Rommel Arnado of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte), a natural-born Filipino citizen who was naturalized as an American citizen.

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Later, he reacquired his Filipino citizenship under Republic Act No. 9225 by executing an oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines and, later, an affidavit of renunciation of his foreign citizenship. However, after executing his affidavit of renunciation, he continued to use his American passport.

Thus, the high court sustained the ruling of the Commission on Elections that his continued use of his US passport negated his affidavit of renunciation.

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It is not so in the case of Senator Poe. She is being accused of using her US passport even after taking her oath of allegiance on July 7, 2006. But the oath of allegiance is not the same as the affidavit of renunciation. Even granting, for the sake of argument, that she used her US passport after taking her oath of allegiance on July 7, 2006, the same will not affect her reacquired Filipino citizenship because using a foreign passport is not a ground for losing one’s Filipino citizenship.

To date, it appears that there is no evidence to show that Poe ever used her US passport after she executed her affidavit of renunciation on Oct. 20, 2010, hence, she continues to comply with the twin requirements to occupy a public office. However, if her rivals could show that she used her US passport after executing said affidavit of renunciation, that would be a different story, in which case the Kauswagan decision might apply to her.

In a word, what the Supreme Court decision says is that it is the use of a foreign passport after executing the affidavit of renunciation which may cause one’s disqualification (as the use of the foreign passport negates the affidavit of renunciaton), not the use of the foreign passport after executing the oath of allegiance.

What is likewise clear is that the use of a US passport after executing an affidavit of renunciation does not divest one of his reacquired Filipino citizenship; it merely disqualifies him from being elected or appointed to a government position because of noncompliance with the twin requirements of an oath of allegiance and an affidavit of renunciation.

However, qualification could be restored one’s he executes another or a new affidavit of renunciation which, in the case of an elective position, must be done before the filing of the certificate of candidacy. This is clear when the Court declared in Arnado that “there is no law prohibiting Arnado from executing an affidavit of renunciation every election period if only to avert possible questions about his qualification.

—ROMULO B. MACALINTAL, election lawyer, [email protected]

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TAGS: Comelec, Commission on Elections, Elections 2016, Filipino citizenship, Grace Poe
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