‘Poe case dif­fer­ent from Ar­naldo’s’

Business Mirror - - NEWS - By Joel R. San Juan

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.

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