POSTSCRIPT / September 2, 2003 / Tuesday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Nation is drowning in politicians’ saliva

CATCHING UP ON PING: Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson has been shown peddling falsehoods, flouting bank secrecy laws and abusing parliamentary immunity when he claimed in an accusatory speech at the Senate that First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo used the alias Jose Pidal to maintain secret accounts.

It has now turned out that Pidal is not Arroyo, but his younger brother Ignacio, contrary to the claim of Lacson.

As for the senator’s disclosing details of bank accounts of private individuals who are presumed to be innocent, we think Lacson was unfair to them by dragging them into his quarrel with Arroyo.

If these private persons violated any law, Lacson is duty-bound as an official, and as one hoping to be president one day, to file the proper complaint instead of slandering them while hiding behind parliamentary immunity.

With us in media unwittingly abetting the deluge of reckless charges, our poor country is now drowning in parliamentary saliva. Lacson should either put up or shut up.

Or, as a man, the least he can do is repeat his accusations outside the Senate hall so his victims can have fair recourse in law.

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NEW ROAD OPENED: Good news for fellow motorists who have to endure crawling and bumping along the North Luzon Expressway is the opening late yesterday of an upgraded eight-kilometer northbound stretch from Candaba to San Simon, Pampanga.

Standing windblown in the open back of a pickup, President Arroyo led the opening drive-through with chairman Oscar M. Lopez of the Manila North Tollways Corp. She proceeded to Clark Field some 30 minutes away for the former airbase’s centennial celebration.

The President expedited the tollway ceremony by not delivering a speech. We liked that. Not wont to waste time, the working President also used a break in the program to hold several official meetings under a tent on the highway.

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ACCELERATED SKED: The stretch that was opened had been raised by two to three meters of stabilized lahar, which is abundant in the area. A 30-centimeter-thick concrete layer was built on the compacted lahar, then covered with two outer layers of 15-centimeter-thick asphalt.

MNTC president Jose de Jesus said that sections of the tollway would be opened to traffic as they are completed. By end of September, the San Simon-San Fernando stretch farther north will also be opened.

By Christmas, he promised, work on the four-lane northbound side from the Balintawak entrance to Burol in Bulacan will be completed. The other four-lane side, southbound, will be finished by the first quarter of next year.

The entire 84-kilometer tollway, built to international standards, has a completion target of February 2005. But De Jesus said that internally, they are gearing to finish it by Christmas of 2004, or even earlier.

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LOSS OF CITIZENSHIP: We’re being flooded by queries on dual citizenship, which is covered by the Citizenship Retention and Reacquisition Act of 2003 signed last Friday. So, we continue to discuss it.

Even without the new law, some Filipinos already enjoy dual citizenship. For others, including natural-born Filipinos who had lost their citizenship when they were naturalized as citizens of another country, the new law makes possible their repatriation or the recovery of their lost citizenship.

Many readers in the United States have expressed concern that repatriated Filipino Americans taking an oath of allegiance as returning Filipinos may automatically lose their US citizenship.

We have said “not necessarily.” But some readers cited provisions of the US Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) apparently stripping Americans of their citizenship the moment they swear allegiance to another state.

Again, we said “not necessarily” — if our reading of US law and policy, as well as some recent US Supreme Court decisions, is right.

Still, our advice to everybody affected by the new law on dual citizenship is to consult an immigration lawyer or inquire in writing with the proper authorities.

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ELEMENT OF INTENT: The laws, policy and court decisions we have read appear to add (to the old interpretation) the requirement that loss of citizenship can only result when the American clearly intends to give up his citizenship. The element of intent is crucial.

In its Afroyim v. Rusk (1967) and Vance v. Terrazas (1980) decisions, the US Supreme Court overturned the old strict interpretation on loss of citizenship. It added in effect the requirement that the American must be shown to have intended to give up his citizenship.

Following up the SC decisions, the US Congress amended the law in 1986 to require that loss of citizenship would result only when a potentially “expatriating” (citizenship-losing) action was performed voluntarily and “with the intention of relinquishing United States nationality.”

The State Department then adopted in April 1990 a new policy that US citizens who perform one of the potentially expatriating acts listed in the INA are normally presumed not to have committed them with intent to give up US citizenship.

“In order to lose US citizenship,” the State department said, “the law requires that the person must apply for the foreign citizenship voluntarily, by free choice, and with the intention to give up US citizenship.”

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AMENDMENTS CITED: We mentioned without elaboration in our lastPostscript (31Aug2003) some amendments to the INA that had relaxed the interpretation of the law as regards citizenship and naturalization.

Following Supreme Court decisions easing the rules, President Carter signed Public Law 95-432 on Oct. 10, 1978, repealing several provisions of the INA that had previously allowed revocation of US citizenship.

The bill repealed, for example, provisions revoking citizenship for voting in foreign elections, moving abroad after naturalization, and desertion from the US armed forces in wartime.

On Nov. 14, 1986, President Reagan signed Public Law 99-653 amending the INA also to conform to the requirements of various SC decisions on loss of US citizenship. It revised the preamble of Section 349 to make it clear that an action, to result in loss of citizenship, needed to be performed voluntarily and with the intention of giving up US citizenship.

PL 99-653 also revised the conditions under which foreign military service could result in loss of citizenship. It provided that such military service would result in loss of citizenship only if performed voluntarily and with intent to relinquish US ties, and only if the person served as an officer, and/or if the foreign army were engaged in hostilities against the US.

Public Law 103-416 signed Oct. 25, 1994, by President Clinton amended the law pertaining to naturalization. Among other things, it repealed the old requirement that candidates for US citizenship state that they intended to reside permanently in the US after naturalization.

It also repealed an old requirement that a newly naturalized US citizen who, within one year after naturalization, abandoned his US residence and set up a permanent residence anywhere outside the US was presumed to have misrepresented his intentions regarding permanent residence, and could have his US citizenship cancelled retroactively on this basis.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of September 2, 2003)

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