POSTSCRIPT / September 14, 2003 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Prayer rallies bad for the Lord’s health

LEAVE THE LORD ALONE: Our poor Father, who art in heaven, must be having king-sized headaches.

While the Lord has to look after at least six billion souls packed on earth, He still has to listen to the importuning of Filipino politicians praying for… what else?… political advantage.

We refuse to believe that all the politicos who gathered the other day at Rizal Park were praying objectively for national peace and unity. Maybe a few were, but not all.

It could be peace all right they were praying for, but did peace mean to them the silence of their foes and critics? And did unity mean the consolidation of major political forces and big contributors behind their candidacies?

How many crimes have been committed in the name of peace and unity?

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LUCKY POLITICO: Most of you probably have heard this story of a politician who had prayed to the Black Nazarene in Quiapo on the eve of the city election, but we will repeat it for those who might have missed it.

There was this politico bankrolled by vice operators who was running for city mayor. Going to the Quiapo church, he dipped his fingers into holy water, made the sign of the cross, and dropped a megacheck into the collection box.

Kneeling, he dragged himself on both knees to a side altar where the Nazarene hung from the cross. He looked up the crucified Christ and pleaded: “Lord, ako po’y nananalangin sa Inyo naway magkaroon kami ng kapayapaan at pagkakaisa sa aming bayan. At saka pala,Lord, pakitulungan po Ninyo akong maging mayor ng Maynila….” (Lord, I pray to You to please grant us peace and unity. And, by the way, Lord, please help me become city mayor….)

Believe it or not, Christ cocked his head to look at the politician and said in a voice straight from the Ten Commandments: “Fulano, maswerte ka….” (Fulano, you are lucky….)

The startled politician sprang from his knees at the Lord’s lightning response. He rushed out to inform his family and followers of Christ Himself telling him of his good luck!

The next day, Election Day, the count showed that Fulano lost to the incumbent mayor by a convincing 80,000 votes.

In these parts, nobody loses an election; he is just cheated. But deep in his heart Fulano knew that he really lost that one.

He decided to go back to the Nazarene to ask why he lost despite His divine assurance. “Poon, sabi po Ninyo kahapon maswerte ako,” he asked on his knees, “Bakit po tila nawalan ako ng swerte at natalo?” (Lord, You told me yesterday I was lucky. How come it seems bad luck struck and I lost the election?)

Whereupon, the Lord replied in a thunderous voice: “Hoy, Fulano, tumigil ka nga riyan! Sabi ko sayo “maswerte ka…” at kumaripas ka ng takbo. Di mo tuloy narinig ang sinabi ko sayo na “maswerte ka at nakapako ako sa krus kundi nasipa kita riyan!” (Hey, Fulano, shut up. I started to tell you “You’re lucky…,” but you rushed out and failed to hear the rest of it: “You’re lucky I’m nailed to the cross, otherwise I would have kicked you…!)

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SABOTAGE?: Now for something more serious. We’ve been reading Article IV (on Citizenship) of the Constitution. Our sometimes skeptical bent is telling us that some congressman might have sabotaged the recently signed Citizenship Retention and Reacquisition Act of 2003.

Section 5, Article IV, of the Constitution says: “Dual allegiance of citizens is inimical to the national interest and shall be dealt with by law.” While dual citizenship is allowed, dual allegiance is considered inimical to national interest.

Under the new Act, sometimes referred to as the Dual Citizenship Law, a natural-born Filipino who had lost his citizenship upon his naturalization in another country can reacquire his native citizenship if he applies for it and takes a Philippine oath of allegiance.

That might prove problematical.

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DUAL ALLEGIANCE: For clearer discussion, take the more familiar case of a Filipino who had taken a US oath of allegiance when he was naturalized in the United States.

If this FilAm wants to take advantage of our new Dual Citizenship law and takes a Philippine oath of allegiance without renouncing his other (American) allegiance, he is likely to run against the provision of Section 5, Article IV, of the Constitution, on dual allegiance.

With this, will a Filipino whose naturalization abroad required a foreign oath of allegiance risk losing his adopted citizenship by taking a Philippine oath of allegiance?

In the case of the FilAm being repatriated, while US law and policy may not automatically strip him of his acquired American citizenship, our new Dual Citizenship law might give him unexpected legal problems.

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BUSINESS MOTIVES: In fact, the Dual Citizenship law itself might just be challenged before the Supreme Court on constitutional grounds.

Section 5 cited above says that dual allegiance is “inimical to the national interest” and must be dealt with or punished.

Congress is mandated to pass needed laws to deal with such violation of the national interest, but the legislature appears to have done the opposite in enacting the new law.

Constitutional Convention records show that Section 5 was inserted into the charter in reaction to many aliens (mostly Chinese) who had taken Philippine citizenship for convenience and for business purposes. Now that section may work against Filipinos residing abroad under an acquired citizenship.

* * *

WHO INSERTED IT?: The oath requirement and another requirement that the prospective repatriate must apply to reacquire Philippine citizenship were reportedly inserted only in the conference committee on insistence of a congressman-member of the bicameral committee.

Who did this? Is it possible that that last-minute insertion was made to torpedo the new law? Considering that there were many objectors to dual citizenship, such a possibility is not remote.

The other possibility is that our lawmakers were not fully aware of the legal implications of that insertion. That is not at all flattering to our legislators.

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SECOND-CLASS PINOYS: Another interesting question is: Will a repatriated natural-born Filipino, or a returning citizen who has to go through naturalization, enjoy all the rights of a natural-born citizen? For instance, can he run for president, a post that is available only to natural-born Filipinos?

A natural-born Filipino is one who is a citizen from birth without his having to do anything to perfect his being a Filipino. A repatriated or returning Filipino who has to go through naturalization under our Dual Citizenship law might be regarded as no longer natural-born.

This could give rise to another category of second-class Filipinos from the ranks of those who were originally natural-born.

A better version of the Dual Citizenship law could have been one providing simply that a natural-born Filipino (a citizen at birth) shall be deemed to have retained his citizenship despite his obtaining another citizenship under the laws of another country.

In this case, a natural-born Filipino who had acquired another citizenship need not apply for repatriation and take an oath, but is simply recognized as not having lost his Philippine citizenship and will continue to enjoy all the rights of a Filipino.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of September 14, 2003)

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