POSTSCRIPT / June 4, 2015 / Thursday


Opinion Columnist

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Poe cannot evade residency question

WHETHER or not Sen. Grace Poe (Ind.) satisfies the constitutional 10-year residency requirement for a presidential candidate is a valid issue, she being groomed to run for president or vice  president in 2016.

The question must be answered frontally. It cannot be waved away as mere political harangue just because the issue was raised by Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco (UNA) from the opposing camp.

Article VII, Section 2, of the Constitution states that “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 40 years of age on the day of the election, and a resident of the Philippines for at least 10 years immediately preceding such election.” (The same qualifications are required of those who want to run for Vice President, as stated in Section 3 of the same Article.)

Will Poe satisfy the 10-year requirement by May 9, 2016, the date of the next presidential elections? Valid question, if she runs for either president or vice president.

When Poe ran for senator in the May 2013 elections, she filed a certificate of candidacy attesting among things that she had been a resident of the Philippines for six years and six months before the midterm polls.

Add the time between the 2013 polls and the upcoming 2016 elections, and the numbers show that Poe would be a legal resident of the Philippines only for nine years and six months – or six months short of the residency requirement.

That Tiangco is the interim president of UNA, the party that is poised to field Vice President Jojo Binay as its presidential bet in 2016, is irrelevant to the numbers and the constitutional question.

• What ‘legal residence’ is and is not

“LEGAL residence” as required of a candidate for elective office does not refer to where the person spends the night or the house(s) that he frequents. Wherever he is or goes, that place is the domicile where he intends to return (animus revertendi).

In a decision promulgated on April 24, 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that “(t)here is no hard and fast rule to determine a candidates compliance with residency requirement since the question of residence is a question of intention. Still, jurisprudence has laid down the following guidelines: (a) every person has a domicile or residence somewhere; (b) where once established, that domicile remains until he acquires a new one; and (c) a person can have but one domicile at a time.”

The Commission on Elections’ Precinct Finder shows that Poe registered as a voter on Aug. 31, 2006, at the Sta. Lucia Elementary School in San Juan and listed as a voter at Precinct 0349A.

Eventually the lawyers and strategists on both sides may be able to lead Tiangco and Poe, as well as voters, out of the confusion. Until then, the potential presidential candidate that is Grace Poe is duty-bound to answer the residency question directly, including the numbers part.

Will the killer question knock Poe out of contention or will it just generate sympathy and votes for her?

• Gov defends BI official in bribery

IS A LIBERAL Party governor using his Malacañang connections to defend a friend sitting as associate commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration enmeshed in questioned activities?

Palace sources say Antique Gov. Alfonso Umali Jr. is convincing President Aquino that Immigration Associate Commissioner Gilberto Repizo Jr. has nothing to do with the reported P400-million bribery for the release of a Chinese wanted for alleged gambling and money laundering in China.

Before Repizo became associate commissioner, he was the counsel of Delfin Lee, the businessman linked to the multibillion-peso Pagibig fund scam, and represented Umali in his case before the Sandiganbayan. Repizo reportedly called up Umali for favorable treatment of Lee shortly after the businessman’s arrest.

The Sandiganbayan convicted Umali last April 21 for illegally facilitating a P2.5-million loan to a ship owner in 1994. The Sandiganbayan 4th division found him guilty of using public funds for a loan to a friend.

Palace sources said Umali asked the President to appoint Repizo, who was not his first choice to replace Associate Commissioner Ledesma who retired in November 2014. Repizo, an LP member, ran and lost in the vice mayoral race in Calapan, Mindoro, in 2013.

• Repizo reverses deportation order

REPIZO is in hot water after he signed the controversial order of May 26, 2015, reversing the March 5, 2015, deportation order against Wang Bo, a 31-year-old Chinese.

Bo was arrested by immigration agents last Feb. 9 after presenting a cancelled passport. A letter dated Feb. 10, 2015, from Chinese consul and police attaché Fu Yunfei said that Bo’s passport (No. G28622645) was cancelled by the Kenqu Public Security Bureau in Heilongjiang province last Jan. 21, 2015.

Based on Chinese embassy records, Bo was charged with violating Article 78 of the Criminal Procedure of the People’s Republic of China by the People’s Procuratorate of Jiusan Nongken Public Security Bureau for the crime of opening casino and money laundering activities. Bo is charged with laundering more than US$100 million using his online business Skybet based in Manila.

With this letter from the Chinese embassy, Special Prosecutor Antonio V. Rivera charged Bo under CA 613, 37(a) 7 and Act 2711, Section 69. All members of the Board of Immigration signed the deportation order.

Bo’s lawyer appealed the decision last March 18 followed by an urgent motion for reconsideration last April 21. A month later, Repizo through a resolution reversed the March 5 deportation order.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of June 4, 2015)

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