Wednesday, September 16, 2015

57. That Maquiling case and Sen. Grace Poe

Sen. Grace Poe is set to make an announcement today, which is presumably about her intention to run as President. But sponsored Facebook and Twitter feeds  abound with legal questions about her legal fitness to run for the position. I have raised my reservations too in paragraphs 6 and 53 but have not found the occasion to look it up myself until today. One of the cases being cited is that of the former Mayor of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte, known as Maquiling v. Comelec (G.R. 195649, April 16, 2013). The facts of that case are as follows: Rommel Arnado, a natural born Filipino, acquired American citizenship, became a dual Filipino and American citizen, renounced his American citizenship under oath as prescribed under Republic Act No. 9225, got elected as Mayor of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte, and used his American passport twice while serving as Mayor. The Supreme Court removed him from his position as Mayor for being ineligible. The Court said, "by using his US passport after renouncing his American citizenship, (Arnado) has recanted the same Oath of Renunciation he took." The logic is that by nullifying his Oath of Renunciation, Arnado was still beholden to his American citizenship, which under the Local Government Code was a ground for disqualification as the law expressly disqualifies those who have dual citizenship from running for local office. The key action that got Arnado disqualified was his use of his American passport, in spite of holding the position of Mayor of a local town. How he thought he could get away with it is beyond me, but this case is now being cited to disqualify Sen. Grace Poe. Reading the materials being peddled around by her friends and enemies, the accusation is she had used her American passport too while serving as MTRCB Chair. This is something that she has, however, repeatedly denied. She renounced her American citizenship on October 20, 2010, and she never used her American passport thereafter. The proof that will best show it was never used is the passport itself. But that is evidence that comes during trial. Yet in her paragraph 1.23.2 of her Answer to the disqualification case filed against her in the Senate Electoral Tribunal, she swore under oath that "At no time after she executed the (Affidavit of Renunciation), did (she) ever use her U.S.A. passport." Thus, Arnado's case is irrelevant to Senator Grace Poe's legal fitness to be a Senator or President of the Philippines. Personally, I thought the Maquiling case was the strongest objection against her candidacy; but so long as the proposition holds true that the good senator never used her U.S.A passport after she executed her Affidavit of Renunciation,  the  Maquiling argument is weak.

No comments: