POSTSCRIPT / November 8, 2015 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Opinion Columnist

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Will Grace’s hubby drop US citizenship?

THERE is no law saying that the spouse of the Philippine president should also be a Filipino.

But it would reassure many admirers of Sen. Grace Poe Llamanzares, an independent presidential candidate, if her American husband Neil renounced his US citizenship, like she did hers in 2012, and also became a Filipino.

Asked by the press about this sticky detail, Poe said that her husband was willing to renounce his US citizenship if she is elected president. Why only “willing to…” and why only if she wins the presidency?

Why does not her husband embrace Philippine citizenship before the 2016 elections, win or lose?

Neil sounded like a terminal patient telling the surgeon that he would pay the bill if he survived the procedure and got well. Is this the kind of “segurista” that Mrs. Llamanzares wants to bring with her to Malacañang?

The senator, meanwhile, has just suffered a setback in her battle against petitions seeking to unseat her and bar her from running for president for allegedly lacking the constitutional requirements of citizenship and residency.

She wanted to show through DNA tests that her biological father was a Filipino – a circumstance that could establish her being a natural-born citizen. But the tests failed to match her with two daughters of the man (now deceased) who claimed to have found her in 1968 in the Jaro church, Iloilo, and who is suspected as the real father.

• Why not DNA matching with Marcos?

ANOTHER rumored biological father is former president Ferdinand E. Marcos. So why not a DNA matching with, say, Sen. Bongbong Marcos, 58, who happens to be running for vice president and whom Poe, 47, sometimes calls “kuya” (brother) in jest.

If only to put the rumors to rest, why not, indeed? For context, read this excerpt from a Senate kapihan this week with the junior Marcos:

Question: Sir, initial batch ng DNA test ni Senator Poe,nag-negative o hindi nag-matched. Baka gusto niyo daw tumulong sa paghahanap ng relatives ni Senator Poe?

Marcos:  Sure. Pa-DNA ako. Walang problema.

Q: Are you serious, Sir?

M: I don’t see how that will help her, but if it will, why not?

Q: So, willing ka, Sir, magpa-DNA test?

M: Wala naman. Anong makikita sa DNA test? Anak ako ng tatay ko at saka ng nanay ko?

Q: Sir, paano kung lumitaw na half-sister kayo ni Senator Poe? Sasabihin niyo ba sa kanya?

M: Welcome to the family!

Q: Sir, tatanungin niyo ba si Senator Poe, alin ang mas matimbang, half-brother o kaibigan? Kasi pareho kayong vice presidential candidate ni Senator Chiz.

M: Nasa sa kanya na iyun. Hindi ko masasagot iyun para sa kanya. You’ll have to ask her about that.

Q: Hindi ninyo sasabihin sa kanya na blood is thicker than water?

M: Baka. Kung nagkataon. We will cross that bridge when we come to it.

While campaigning in Subic Bay the other day, however, Poe told the press: “I am thanking Senator Bongbong, but I think he just wants to help me. I’m sure he knows if it happens, it will not match.”

In a radio interview last Wednesday, she said: “I do not lose hope (in the citizenship case) because our legal basis is not just dependent on DNA. It is dependent on the rights of children born in the country.” She was presumably referring to an international convention on the right of a child to a nationality.

• 6 convicted of human trafficking

SIX PERSONS accused of human trafficking, five in Cebu and one in Manila, were found guilty last week and sentenced to life imprisonment and fined P2 million, according to the International Justice Mission which worked with public prosecutors to reach the convictions.

The selling of minors for sex once meant high profits and an easy way to make a living for traffickers. Now, it means life in prison, even for bar owners and managers.

The first three convictions were scored last Oct. 26 in Cebu. The accused – Janeth Yosores Bughao, Genevieve Dawa Badiang and Sheila Ohao Dedicatoria – were, according to prosecution evidence, managers at the Red Lips Bikini Bar on Mango Ave., a street with a reputation for lively, and sometimes seedy, nightlife.

NBI Central Visayas conducted an entrapment operation in 2012, which led to the rescue of 26 young women and the arrest of the three accused.

The following day, Joseph Charles Leveque and Hilda Leveque were convicted in another case of trafficking minors at the Cheers Videoke Bar in Bogo City. In 2010, the PNP’s Regional Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force, Region 7, partnered with DSWD-7 to conduct an entrapment at Cheers to rescue six women, five of them minors.

The police arrested Joseph and Hilda, identified as the Cheers bar owners and managers, and a woman, Marivic Jose, who was allegedly the cashier, entertainer, recruiter, and floor manager. Marivic remains at-large.

John Tanagho, IJM deputy field office director in Cebu, said the message of the convictions was: “Get out of the illicit business of the commercial sexual exploitation of children — or go to jail.”

Evidence in the sixth conviction, in Manila last Oct. 27, identified the accused as Evangeline de Dios y Barreto, who allegedly recruited and pimped young people under the bridge in River Park, Marikina City.

In 2013, NBI’s anti-human trafficking division, assisted by the social welfare department in a sting operation, rescued two adult women, a girl, and two boys, and arrested Evangeline, who allegedly offered the victims to customers for P700. The court fined her P2 million on top of her life sentence.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of November 8, 2015)

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