POSTSCRIPT / September 10, 2015 / Thursday


Opinion Columnist

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Grace’s own papers may trip her at SET

A BLOCKBUSTER show reels off tomorrow on the petition for the Senate Electoral Tribunal to unseat Sen. Grace Poe for not being a natural-born Filipino and failing to meet the two-year residency requirement prior to the May 2013 senatorial elections.

The challenge filed by defeated 2013 senatorial candidate Rizalito David appears to be mostly a matter of evidence, with Poe’s original certificate of live birth and the chronology of her actions being crucial to the case.

These are some of the 21 pieces of documents submitted to the SET by the senator (heretofore referred to as Grace for brevity):

• Annex 1 – Intercalated Certificate of Live Birth with handwritten insertions indicating Grace was found in the parish church of Jaro, Iloilo, at about 9:30 a.m., Sept. 3, 1968, by one Edgardo Militar. Written on the paper was the date Nov. 27, 1968.

• Annex 2 – Decision dated May 13, 1974, of Judge Alfredo Gorgonio of the Municipal Court of San Juan approving the adoption of Grace by spouses Jesusa L. Sonorio and Ronald Allan K. Poe.

• Annex 3 – A Certificate of Live Birth authenticated by the Philippine Statistics Authority saying that “Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe” was the “first born” child of Jesusa L. Sonora, 27, and Ronald Allan K. Poe, 29.

• Annex 7 – Grace’s petition with the Bureau of Immigration dated July 10, 2006, for reacquisition under RA 9225 (dual citizens law) of her renounced Philippine citizenship wherein she said among other things she was a former “natural-born” Philippine citizen naturalized as an American on Oct. 18, 2001, at the District Court in Arlington, VA, and issued US passport No. 017037793 on Dec. 19, 2001.

• Annex 10 – Bureau of Immigration order dated July 18, 2006, saying Grace, “having been born of Filipino parents and is presumed to be a natural-born Philippine citizen” is “deemed to have reacquired her Philippine citizenship.” The order was signed by BI associate commissioner Roy M. Almoro, who said he presumed Grace to be a natural-born citizen after examining the documents she had submitted.

• Annex 13 – Grace’s appointment as chair of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board on Oct. 6, 2010. When she took her oath as MTRCB chair, Grace was still an American using a US passport. Her acceptance of that appointment was later used as basis for her losing her US citizenship.

• Annex 14 – Grace’s affidavit of renunciation of allegiance to the US and renunciation of her American citizenship sworn to on Oct. 20, 2010, before notary public Conrada A. Balboa of Pasig. This “renunciation” is outside the procedure defined by US law for Americans abroad (as in the Philippines) renouncing their citizenship.

• Annex 15 – A letter to the Bureau of Immigration received on Oct. 21, 2010, covering Grace’s documents sent by EMSAVVIL (Escudero Marasigan Vallente & EH Villareal) law office for their client Mary Grace Poe-Llamanzares. Letter was signed for EMSAVVIL by the same Conrada A. Balboa who had notarized Annex 14 above. If the “Escudero” in the firm is Sen. Chiz Escudero, this detail might explain why Grace appears too dependent on Escudero in keeping her presidential plans viable.

• Annex 17 – Oath of Renunciation of US Nationality sworn to on July 12, 2011, by Grace before US Vice Consul Somer E. Bessire-Briers at the US embassy. She was then still an American despite her “renunciation” affidavit executed before a lawyer-notary of the Escudero office.

• Annex 19 – Certificate of Loss of US Nationality by Grace approved Feb. 3, 2012, that US Vice Consul Jason Gallian of the US embassy signed on Dec. 9, 2011.

US law sets rules for losing citizenship

HERE are additional notes excerpted from the official website of the US Department of State pertaining to the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (amended in 1965).

Section 349(a)(5) of INA of 1952 governs the right of a US citizen to renounce his citizenship. The 1965 amendment replaced the 45-year-old national origins quota system with a preference system, but retained the section providing for the loss of nationality by voluntarily “(5) making a formal renunciation of nationality before a diplomatic or consular officer of the United States in a foreign state, in such form as may be prescribed by the Secretary of State.”

It pertains to Americans renouncing their citizenship while in a foreign country as, hypothetically, a Filipino naturalized as an American desiring to discard his US citizenship.

Renunciation is not accomplished by the mere signing of an affidavit before a local notary public. Nor is it done as a candidate once did in Makati who tore in public his US passport and dramatically swore to his being a true Filipino.

Under the INA, an American in a foreign country wishing to renounce his US citizenship must voluntarily appear before a US consular or diplomatic officer, and sign an oath of renunciation.

Renunciations that do not meet the conditions set under INA have no legal effect. Because of Section 349(a)(5), Americans cannot effectively renounce their citizenship by mail, through an agent, or while in the United States.

An American renouncing his citizenship also gives up all the rights and privileges associated with such citizenship. These include the right to permanent residence in the US and receive medicare and social security benefits.

Persons renouncing their US citizenship – unless they are dual citizens or already possessing another nationality – may find themselves stateless and therefore lacking the protection of any government.

Some weeks ago, we emailed a query to Senator Poe if, having renounced her US citizenship, she still had to file a bank deposit report required of all “US persons” living abroad. She did not reply.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of September 10, 2015)

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