Friday, September 18, 2015

59. Domicile, Residence, Citizenship

Sen.  Grace Poe's residence is the last focus of the disqualification case against her fitness to run for higher office, because the Constitution requires that a candidate for the presidency must be a resident of the Philippines for ten years. Yet, this argument is "dead in the water" so to speak, by simply clearing up the legal concepts of  domicile, residence and citizenship. First, citizenship is not synonymous with residence. Citizenship refers to the oath of allegiance to a state; residency relates to the place of abode. A person can be Filipino citizen and a resident, or a Filipino citizen and a non-resident. Conversely, a non-Filipino can be a resident of the Philippines. Applying this distinction, it is now easy to see that Sen. Grace Poe's residency has nothing to do with her brief status as an American citizen, which we discussed in paragraph 57. These are two matters that cannot be confused. The second point is that whenever the law speaks of residence for purposes of election, it refers to domicile. The ordinary meaning of "residence" is the place of abode, whether permanent or temporary. Meanwhile, domicile means a fixed permanent residence to which, when absent, one has the intention of returning. Domicile is residence coupled with the intention to remain for an unlimited time. It is the place of habitual residence. For election purposes, a temporary residence in one place does not change a domicile, which may be in another place. In the case of Imelda Marcos vs. COMELEC G.R. 119976, September 18, 1995, the Supreme Court noted that Imelda established her domicile as an eight year old in Tacloban, left for Manila in 1952 to work with his cousin and then got married to Ferdinand Marcos, registered as a voter for Ferdinand's congressional district in Ilocos Norte,  moved to San Juan, Metro Manila, when Ferdinand became a senator, then moved to San Miguel, Manila when Ferdinand Marcos became the President, then she claimed they got kidnapped (?) and brought to Honolulu, Hawaii in 1986, after which she returned  to San Juan,  Metro Manila in 1991 and ran for President, until she finally decided to return to Tacloban to run for Congress. Said the Supreme Court, 

None of these purposes unequivocally point to an intention to abandon her domicile of origin in Tacloban, Leyte.
That's almost a forty-year adventure out of Tacloban for Imelda that had her travelling around the world, so to speak, not counting the acquisition of real estate in New York and the bank accounts in Switzerland. Yet, her domicile, said the Supreme Court, has always been Tacloban. As for Sen. Grace Poe, she has to satisfy the requirement that she has been a resident of the Philippines for at least ten years immediately preceding the elections in May 2016. So strictly speaking, she has to show that her domicile from May 2006 onwards has been the Philippines. Her press kit says she decided to return to the Philippines for good after the death of her father Fernando Poe Jr. in December 2004. From then on, she moved her domicile here, which she demonstrated by a series of activities, such as moving residence here, enrolling her kids in Philippine schools, buying her family's abode, and selling her American house. Most of these activities took place in 2005, which is safe enough to qualify for the ten year threshhold. Of course, by applying the all embracing precedent set by Imelda Marcos's case, the residency issue against Sen. Grace Poe is clearly settled. There is, however, a controversy as to her personal declaration in her application for certificate of candidacy for the Senate where it was inscribed that she's been a resident only for  six years and six months prior to the May 2013 elections. If the declaration were to be read on its face, it would make Sen. Grace Poe a resident only from December 2006, about five months short of the threshhold. Yet, this was the same situation in the Imelda case where the Supreme Court ruled that it is a non-issue as those declarations in applications for certificate  of candidacy are outweighed by the actions of the candidate, which ultimately determine the domicile. It would therefore be a matter of evidence on the part of Senator Grace Poe to show by testimonial and documentary proof that she has moved her domicile to the Philippines after December 2004. This is where I think the procedural hurdles would be thrown, which should be subject of paragraph 60. 

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