By Mortz C. Ortigoza
CALASIAO – Presidential front runner Senator Grace Poe said that residency is different to citizenship after a fourth case was filed against her by a petitioner who questioned her citizenship and her lacked of 10 years residency before the 2016 election.
“Ang citizenship at residency hindi magka pareho iyan. Sapagkat you can be considered a resident of a country without necessarily being from that country. Lahat po iyan ang nasasagot namin (Citizenship and residency are different. You can be considered a resident of a country without necessarily being from that country. All of those charges my camp have rebutted),” Poe answered when asked lately here by Northern Watch what former University of the East Dean Amado Valdez argued on his petition at the Commission on Election.
Valdez filed a petition last November 2 at the Comelec asking the election body to nullify Poe’s candidacy for the presidency because she is not a natural born Filipino and lacks the necessary 10 years residency’s requirement before the 2016 presidential race.
“Strictly speaking, the 10-year period of residency must be counted from Oct. 20, 2010, when she renounced her American citizenship. Between July 7, 2006, and Oct. 20, 2010, she owed dual allegiance to the Philippines and the US, thus still ineligible to hold public office,” Valdez told media men in Manila.
The Philippine Constitution requires a presidential candidate to be not only a natural born Filipino, a registered voter, must be able to read and write, 40 years of age at the day of the election but must have resided in the Philippines ten years before the election is held
But Poe’s spokesman Rex Gatchalian pooh-poohed the former dean’s petitioned and banked instead on her availing the Citizenship Retention and Reacquisition Act of 2003 or Republic Act 9225.
“The express provisions of this law substantiate the fact that she was deemed not to have lost her natural born citizenship when she reacquired her Filipino citizenship. The act of repatriation is not naturalization,” he said.
The petition of Valdez against Poe was the 4th after former senator Francisco “Kit” Tatad, Government Service and Insurance System chief legal counsel Estrella Elamparo, and De La Salle University political science professor Antonio Contreras questioned her qualification at the Comelec.
The main points of Poe's arguments however as aired by her legal supporters against the petitioners were:
The citizenship and residency issues should be taken up separately; she complied with the citizenship and residency requirement for a senator; she was already a resident of the Philippines in May 2005, longer than what she indicated in her Certificate of Candidacy; she (together with her 3 kids) became a Filipino citizen (dual citizen) in 2006; she renounced her American citizenship on October 21, 2010, when she took an oath in Philippine government; she re-affirmed this renunciation in 2011 before a vice consul at the United States embassy in Manila; the US State Department “approved” this in February 2012 but her last US passport and the approved document showed she “self expatriated” herself on October 21, 2010.
Meanwhile, the besieged presidential candidate turned the table against her critics by assailing them that she accepted the charges they thrown against her but what can they say on her presidential opponents who were charged with corruption and incompetency in solving unemployment in this country.
“Para sa akin hindi po ako nagkulang aking paninilbihan at sa aking pagiging tapat sa ating mga kababayan. Iyon po siguro ang nagbigay ng lakas sa akin ngayon. Sapagkat kung iyon po ang dalawang (inaudible) iyong talaga magsasabi na hindi ka karapat dapat. Kasi ang integridad ng isang tao ay hindi po nasusulat sa DNA (For me I did not short change my service and love of country. They strengthened me. But if my two rivals have been saying I am not qualified, this I would say: that the integrity of a person could not be seen on her DNA)” she stressed.
Poe was here early this month to launch ALL4GP Movement, attended a consultation with different sectors in Barangay Nalsian here, and graced the college graduation of the University of Luzon in Dagupan City.