Thursday, July 9, 2015

Residential POElitics

 In one of my previous blogs, “POElitics of Statelessness” I wrote dismissively,

“I do not think that she (Poe) would have a real problem defending her 10-year residency. The doctrine of “Animus revertendi” and jurisprudence provide sufficient evidence to support the Philippines as her “domicile” or legal residence for at least 10 years. Furthermore, there are sufficient factual circumstances showing that she actually resided – not just intended to return for a longer period.”

This was after studying the relevant law and jurisprudence involving residency requirements for Philippine national officials. Many legal luminaries like former Supreme Court Chief Justice Art Panganiban, former COMELEC Chairman Sixto Brillantes, Ateneo School of Government Dean Antonio la Vina, noted election law practitioner Romulo Makalintal and legal writer Mel Sta. Maria have very compelling and convincing similar views.

Surprisingly, a great number of law experts take the opposite view siding with UNA spokesman Toby Tiongko who first publicly claimed that Senator Poe is disqualified from being a candidate for President of the Philippines because she lacks the required 10-year residency. Among these law experts are former UP Law Dean Pacifico Agabin, former UE Law Dean Amado Valdez, IBP National President Vicente Joyas, and famous international lawyer Harry Roque.

Upon hearing my views and those of the law experts I discussed, my barber readily took my side. In fact, he wanted me to simplify it so he would be able to explain the same at the barbershop.

Section 2, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution provides, “No person may be elected President unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, a registered voter, able to read and write, at least forty years of age on the day of the election, and a resident of the Philippines for at least ten years immediately preceding such election.”

“Election” in this case is Monday, May 9, 2016.  “Immediately preceding” is May 8, 2016. “At least ten years” means it can be eleven, fifteen, twenty or any number above ten years. “Resident of the Philippines” means legally residing (not necessarily physical) or domiciled  in the Philippines.

All together it means that on May 8, 2016, Senator Grace Poe must have legally resided for a total of at least ten years in the Philippines. Contrary to the understanding of those who want her disqualified, the 10-year residency requirement DOES NOT mean “ten (10) continuous period of residence in the Philippines.” All Poe has to show is that the Philippines was her domicile for at least ten years.

If it meant a “continuous period of residence for at least ten (10) years”, it should have provided it. Like in the case of Section 2 of the Philippine Revised Naturalization Law, it provided that a foreigner applying for Philippine citizenship must meet among others the following qualifications: “He must have resided in the Philippines for a continuous period of not less than ten (10) years.”

For Filipinos who followed the path to U.S. citizenship, they must be familiar with the requirement that under U.S. Immigration Law, the applicant “Has resided continuously within the United States, as defined under Subsection 316.5, for at least 5 years after having been lawfully admitted for permanent residence.”
(Revised 2/3/95; 60 FR 6647)

Has Senator Grace Poe legally resided in the Philippines for at least ten (10) years? The answer is obviously YES!

The facts cannot be denied. She was born in Jaro, Iloilo on September 3, 1968. Qualified for admission due to age, she was enrolled at St. Paul’s College and spent at least six (6) years there. Then she moved to Assumption College in San Lorenzo, Makati finishing her high school in four (4) years. For college, she spent two (2) years at the University of the Philippines before moving to Boston College in Massachusetts, USA where she completed her college degree in 1991.

After getting married later on, she and her family resided in Fairfax, Virginia which is not too far from where I currently live. Working as a teacher in a Montessori school for three (3) years (1995-1998) and at a U.S. Geological company for another 3-4 years, she went back to the Philippines in 2003 to help in the presidential campaign of her father, Fernando Poe, Jr. She returned to the United States after the elections to join her family, only to go back to the Philippines in December 2004 due to her father’s death.  

Returning to Fairfax, Virginia after FPJ’s funeral, Grace Poe and Neil Llamanzares decided to pack up, sell their house, and re-establish the Philippines as their physical residence. Once in the country, she assumed her position as Vice President/Treasurer of FPJ productions in charge of the more than 200 movies of her father in the archives. She registered as a voter and became politically active helping causes that FPJ was fighting for. She also renounced her allegiance to and citizenship of the United States and accepted the position of Chairman of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) in 2010. In the Senatorial elections of 2013, she ran under PNoy’s “Tuwid na Daan” banner and obtained the highest number of votes. Now the surveys are showing that she is the preferred successor of PNoy.

An analysis of the facts stated above and the wonders of Arithmetic show, that if Senator Poe decides to run for President or Vice President on May 9, 2016, she would more than fulfill the residency requirement of least ten (10) years.

Her critics make a big deal of what she put in her Certificate of Candidacy filed in October 2012 for the 2013 Senatorial elections. The truth is, the Supreme Court in a similar case cited by the above-mentioned legal luminaries stated:

“It is the fact of residence, not a statement in a certificate of candidacy which ought to be decisive in determining whether or not an individual has satisfied the constitution’s residency qualification requirement.”

Furthermore, as discussed above, what the law contemplates is not whether a candidate has continuously resided for ten (10) years but whether he or she has resided for at least ten (10) years immediately preceding the election.

1 comment:

  1. Check this blog. If you remember, Raissa Robles published in her blog that Grace Poe's US citizenship was renounced only in 2012. I found out that the list Robles referring is not reliable at all and has a lot of mistakes.