‘Poe case different from Arnaldo’s’
THE legal team of Sen. Grace Poe on Friday cried foul over news reports insinuating that the presidential candidate would suffer the same fate as the local official who was recently disqualified by the Supreme Court (SC) for using his foreign passport after renouncing his American citizenship.
Lawyer George Garcia clarified that the case of disqualified mayor Rommel Arnaldo of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte, was totally different from that of Poe, because she never used a passport other than her Philippine passport after she renounced her US citizenship in October 2010, when she assumed the chairmanship of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB).
“Lest the public be misled, the recent SC decision in Arnaldo v. Comelec [Commission on Elections] is inapplicable to the case of Sen. Grace Poe,” Garcia said.
In its decision in the Arnaldo case, which became final last December, the SC considered the use of a foreign passport by dual citizens as proof of ineligibility to hold public office as natural-born residents, with undivided allegiance to the Philippines.
Court records showed that Arnaldo used his passport just 11 days after he renounced his US citizenship. Such act, the Court said, was tantamount to recantation of his Oath of Renunciation abandoning his American citizenship
News reports said the ruling in the Arnaldo case is seen to set a precedent that will have a bearing on the disqualification case against Poe, who had asked the SC to reverse two Comelec decisions cancelling her certificate of candidacy (COC) for president, owing to alleged false material representations regarding her citizenship and residency.
But Garcia said there is “absolutely no basis” to compare Arnaldo’s case to that of his client.
“Records would show that Sen. Grace Poe never used her US passport after her renunciation of US citizenship in October of 2010,” Garcia pointed out. “The last time it was used by her was in March of 2010 or several months before said renunciation.”
“This was confirmed by the entries on the US passport itself and the travel records at the Bureau of Immigration, and this was further amplified during the oral arguments,” he added.
Show cause order sought
FORMER Sen. Francisco S. Tatad, meanwhile, asked the SC to order officials of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to explain why they should not be cited in contempt for filing a memorandum on the issue of the disqualification of Poe without being told so.
In a motion filed before the Court, Tatad through his lawyer Manuelito Luna castigated the CHR for filing a memorandum on Poe’s case although it is neither a party nor appointed as an amicus curiae (friend of the court) by the SC.
Luna said the CHR is considered an “interloper,” thus, may be held in contempt of court under Rule 71, Section 3 (c) and (d).
Under the said provision, a person may be punished for indirect contempt for “any unlawful interference with the processes or proceedings of a court and for “improper conduct tending, directly or indirectly, to impede, obstruct, or degrade the administration of justice.”
Luna named CHR officials, led by Chairman Jose Luis Martin C. Gascon and Commissioners Gwendolyn LL. Pimentel- Gana, Karen Lucia S. Gomez, Leah C. Tanodra- Armamento and Roberto Eugenio Cadiz, as among those should be ordered explain for filing the memorandum.
The CHR on Wednesday asked the Court to accept its memorandum as an amicus curiae on the issue of Poe’s citizenship and residency.
In its memorandum submitted motu propio, the CHR through legal counsel Francis Tom F. Temprosa, said the State has an obligation erga omnes (toward everyone) to prevent stateleness among foundlings and that they are “inherently entitled to a nationality at birth.”
The CHR noted that as party to several international human rights instruments, the State has recognized “the need to provide for the protection” of foundlings’ rights, thus ensuring their right to a nationality.
But, Luna pointed out that the matter being litigated before the SC. does not concern foundlings in general.
“Suffice it to state that petitioner’s cases should be the least of CHR’s concern since the same do not involve severe cases of human rights or human-rights violations involving civil and political rights,” Luna said.
Luna also asked the Court to expunge from the records of the case the memorandum filed by the CHR.