POSTSCRIPT / September 9, 1999 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Bad news for Pinoys owing US allegiance

HERE’S somewhat bad news for Filipinos who are naturalized Americans.

Unless the Constitution is amended, it appears that such naturalized Americans cannot qualify for dual citizenship under the leading Supreme Court decision on the disqualification case versus Makati Vice Mayor Edu Manzano.

The high court’s ruling upheld the legality of dual citizenship only of certain Filipinos who have not taken an oath of allegiance to a foreign power or committed any act amounting to a renunciation of their Filipino citizenship.

A general application of the SC ruling recognized the dual citizenship of a child with at least one Filipino parent and who was born in a country (such as the United States) that claims him as its citizen by reason of his having been born there.

Since the child has not done anything to renounce his Filipino citizenship (even when his parents applied for a foreign or US passport for him), he remains a Filipino in the eyes of the Philippine Constitution. He need not do anything to perfect his Philippine citizenship acquired at birth.

* * *

HOWEVER, the same Supreme Court ruling — which is at the moment the law on the matter — may not look that kindly on naturalized Americans. That’s because Filipinos take this solemn oath of allegiance during their naturalization:

“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen;

“That I will support and defend the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same;

“That I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law;

“That I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law;

“That I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law;

“And that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion. So help me God.”

* * *

WITH that oath of allegiance, how can a Filipino simultaneously keep his Philippine citizenship under the SC ruling in GR No. 135083 (Ernesto S. Mercado vs. Eduardo Barrios Manzano and the Commission on Elections) promulgated on May 26, 1999?

Our Constitution says in Section 5, Article IV, that “dual allegiance of citizens is inimical to the national interest and shall be dealt with by law.”

Any law granting Philippine citizenship to former Filipinos who have renounced their citizenship and pledged allegiance to a foreign power will face serious constitutional questions.

Besides, will the US government not consider these FilAms as giving up their acquired US citizenship once they embrace again the old Filipino citizenship that they had renounced upon their naturalization?

“Namamangka sa dalawang ilog” has always been a tricky operation.

So far, the legislative initiatives we read about have been mere press releases. Nobody has formally filed a measure on dual citizenship. We don’t know exactly what they have in mind or how liberal they want the law to be.

* * *

ONE way we see for a naturalized American to secure a new Philippine passport, and thereby gain a prima facie proof of his supposed concurrent Philippine citizenship, is to… well, apply for a passport. (If his acquired American attitude can stand the long lines and the long wait.)

Born in the Philippines with at least one Filipino parent, our Balikbayan can secure all the needed papers, particularly his birth certificate authenticated by the Bureau of Census, for a new passport to be issued to him.

With his built-in tan, pug nose, funny accent and his brand-new Philippine passport, who would not believe that our dollar-laden Balikbayan is still a full-blooded Filipino?

The passport application form does not ask about an applicant’s foreign passports or allegiances, if any, so the applicant does not have to commit perjury or fraud in his application.

* * *

HOLDING two passports, one US and another Philippine, a naturalized American can be more flexible in his travel and some business transactions. He can buy a condo or a small farm before he goes back to the States.

If he is the daring type, he can experiment departing on his Philippine passport and using his US passport at the port of entry as a returning US citizen.

As an American, he won’t have to count show money (which is sometimes required of Third World looking travelers). Instead, he can fish out his crumpled $20 for taxi fare and his collection of credit cards for incidentals.

* * *

MEANWHILE, some foreign businessmen have been asked to speak out and announce that they really need to own land in this country for them to come in with more investments.

Their statements are part of the campaign to justify the insistence of President Estrada to amend the Constitution and allow foreigners to own land, media and other businesses now reserved for Filipinos.

We urge technical groups to analyze the businesses of these foreigners and rebut their self-serving claim that they have to own land to be able to make their investments profitable.

There are many foreign businesses in the country that are raking in profits without owning the land that they use. Some of them are in special trade zones. Some work in tandem with Filipino partners who own the land.

There are many ways of making money off the land without having to own it. These big investors are not worth their name if they don’t know how to do it. Any lawyer or established businessman can advise them on this basic fact of doing business in the Philippines.

* * *

BACK on the road, we’re now more convinced that Bridgestone tires are not exactly the best choice for use in Metro Manila and what pass for roads in the Philippines.

My Bridgestones are just two months old, but one of them suddenly burst Monday night without notice on a clear stretch of EDSA near Guadalupe bridge. Like in many of my other BS tires in the past 10 years, the sidewall of this one also burst for no apparent reason.

Suffering flats is one of those things on the road, but there is an uncanny habit of the sidewall of BS tires easily bursting while on the run. The past months, we have been receiving similar complaints of unhappy users of poor-quality BS tires.

* * *

A TECHNICAL expert of Bridgestone has shown us cutaway sections of BS tires to explain that the sidewall of their tires is thin – by design. Manipis siya as compared to the thick and tough tread (that flat part that rolls on the pavement).

He said that their thinner sidewall is more flexible and gives a smoother and more comfortable ride. If the sidewall is thick and stiff, he pointed out, the bounce and the ride would be rough and bumpy.

Everybody loves comfort. But if your tires which promise a comfortable ride have to burst and be replaced every two months, when they are still looking new, you have to start thinking of shifting to other brands.

Because the BS sidewall is thin, one has to be more careful protecting it from scratches, bumps, grazing… and similar road hazards that can injure tires. One has to drive no faster than 80 kph, avoid driving at night and during floods, and keep a safe distance from sidewalks, islands, rocks, and other clutter. A BS user should not drive off the road and venture into unpaved areas.

* * *

WITH its thin sidewall, a BS tire tends to look squat and flatter, as if it is having a heard time carrying the load. This can give the user the impression that it is under-inflated and so he adds more air.

But there is a small print embossed on BS tires warning that it should not be inflated beyond 40 psi (pounds per square inch). Those who are not aware of this — since not all of them undergo a Bridgestone seminar — many pump more air even if this is unnecessary.

We have told the local Bridgestone distributor to discuss this problem with their Japanese principals. We said they could consider making BS sidewalls a little thicker for improved durability and longer life.

After all, between imagined comfort and longer tire life, most users would go for longer life. The Filipino driver, we dare say, would usually blame a rough ride not on the tires, but on the bad road and the old suspension of his vehicle.

* * *

BRIDGESTONE says its tires are being used in Formula One racing. Big deal. We all know how these accreditations are worked out. Like some drink is the official Olympic beverage although no athlete drinks is. One shoe brand is dubbed official PBA shoes, although the best players use other brands. Et cetera.

They have pretentious tires called Desert Dueler but which burst on city streets away from the punishing heat and hazards of deserts. They have another brand without the desert part and is simply called Dueler, but it’s the same old story of the sidewall easily bursting without a decent notice.

As an old user of Bridgestone and having suffered many unexplained bursting of the sidewall, I can only rely on my own experience and those of many others who have written and talked to me when I say that Bridgestones appear not suited for the rough and unfriendly roads of Metro Manila and the rest of the country.

* * *

(First published in the Philippine STAR of September 9, 1999)

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