Friday, December 25, 2015

Use of US passport might doom Poe bid

“The ballot cannot override the constitutional and statutory requirements for qualifications and disqualifications of candidates... When a person not qualified is voted and eventually garners the highest number of votes, even the will of the electorate expressed through the ballot cannot cure the defect in the qualification of the candidate,” read the ruling




Using passport might doom Poe bid

Use of her US passport might doom the presidential bid of Sen. Grace Poe.

In deciding Poe’s appeal against her disqualification, the Supreme Court (SC) may consider a September ruling upholding the disqualification of a candidate for mayor in the 2013 elections who was found to have used his US passport in his travels after renouncing his US citizenship.

A source said justices might consider applying to Poe’s case their basis for upholding the disqualification of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte Mayor Rommel Arnado in the 2013 elections over his American citizenship.

Poe’s camp is expected to file a petition on Monday contesting the Commission on Elections (Comelec) ruling earlier this week disqualifying her from the presidential race due to questions on her citizenship and residency.

“Only natural-born Filipinos who owe total and undivided allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines could run for and hold elective public office,” the SC ruling in September read.

The source said that while the high court is on holiday recess, justices have been doing research on the matter considering its urgency.

Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno said the justices recognize the need for them to act on urgent cases even while the SC is on break given the limited time left for the Comelec for election preparations.

Under election laws, Poe only has five days from disqualification to secure a temporary restraining order from the SC, or her name would not be included in ballots to be printed in January.

“There’s a striking similarity in both cases (Arnado and Poe) – both running for public office after renouncing foreign citizenship. But there are also differences, so we will just see,” the source told The STAR.

In the ruling on the Arnado case penned by Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo, the SC upheld the disqualification of the mayor for using his American passport in several trips even after renouncing his US citizenship in 2009 to run for mayor in the May 2010 polls.

“The circumstances surrounding the qualification of Arnado to run for public office during the May 20, 2010 and May 13, 2013 elections, to reiterate for emphasis, are the same,” the source said.

“Arnado’s use of his US passport in 2009 invalidated his oath of renunciation, resulting in his disqualification to run for mayor of Kauswagan in the 2010 election,” the source added.

“Since then and up to the time he filed his COC (certificate of candidacy) for the 2013 elections, Arnado had not cured the defect in his qualification,” the SC said in its September ruling.

The high tribunal held that the use of a foreign passport after renouncing one’s foreign citizenship “is a positive and voluntary act of representation as to one’s nationality and citizenship” and “does not divest one of the reacquired Filipino citizenship but recants the Oath of Renunciation required to qualify one to run for an elective position.”

“When Arnado used his US passport just 11 days after he renounced his US citizenship, he recanted his Oath of Renunciation that he ‘absolutely and perpetually renounce(s) all allegiance and fidelity to the United States of America’ and that he ‘divest(s) (him)self of full employment of all civil and political rights and privileges of the United States of America,’” the ruling read.

“This act of using a foreign passport after renouncing his foreign citizenship is fatal to Arnado’s bid for public office, as it effectively imposed on him a disqualification to run for an elective local position,” it stressed.

In its April 2013 ruling on a similar case against Arnado, the SC stressed that even his victory in the election could not cure his ineligibility, adding that popularity should not precede the constitutional requirements for elections.

“The ballot cannot override the constitutional and statutory requirements for qualifications and disqualifications of candidates... When a person not qualified is voted and eventually garners the highest number of votes, even the will of the electorate expressed through the ballot cannot cure the defect in the qualification of the candidate,” read the ruling. - Edu Punay, Philstar

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