Sunday, March 13, 2016

Justice Del Castillo's dissent in the case of Grace Poe; excerpts: "A person who aspires to occupy the highest position in the land must obey the highest law of the land."


"x x x.

A person who aspires to occupy the highest position in the land must obey the highest law of the land.1

Since the second Monday of May of 1992 and every six years thereafter,2 the Filipino people have been exercising their sacred right to choose the leader who would steer the country towards a future that is in accordance with the aspirations of the majority as expressed in the fundamental law of the land.

At stake is the Presidency, the highest position in the land. The President wields a vast array of powers which includes "control of all the executive departments, bureaus and offices."3 He/she is also the Commander-in-Chief of all am1ed forces of the Philippines4 and can "grant reprieves, commutations, and pardons, and remit fines and forfeitures, after conviction by finaljudgment,"5 as well as subject to the concurrence of Congress.6 For the rest of the world, he/she is the representation and the representative of the Filipino people.

x x x.

Based on the said entry, it could be deduced that by her own reckoning, petitioner started residing in the Philippines in November 2006. Thus by May 8, 2016, or the day immediately preceding the elections on May 9, 2016, her period of residency in the Philippines would only be nine years and six months, or short of the mandatory 10-year residency requirement for the presidential post. In contrast, petitioner attested in her 2015 CoC that her period of residency in the Philippines on the day before the May 9, 2016 elections is "10 years and 11 months." Clearly, these are contrasting declarations which give the impression that petitioner adjusted the period of her residency in her 2015 CoC to show that she is eligible to run for the Presidency. This rendered her vulnerable to the charge that she committed material misrepresentations in her 2015 CoC.

x x x .

What must not be overlooked is that these pieces of evidence fly in the face of the fact that from May 24, 2005 to July 18, 2006 petitioner was an alien on temporary sojourn here. It should be emphasized that after petitioner abandoned the Philippines as her domicile and became a naturalized U.S. citizen on October 18, 2001, the U.S. became her domicile of choice. In Coquilla v. Commission on El . 242 d 't t d . T c . . El . 243 thi c ectzons an re1 era e m Japzon v. ommzsszon on ectzons, s ourt held that a Filipino who applies for naturalization as an American citizen has to establish legal residence in the U.S. which would consequently result in the abandonment of Philippine domicile as no person can have two domiciles at any given time. Hence, beginning October 18, 2001, petitioner was domiciled in the U.S.244

When petitioner arrived in the Philippines on May 24, 2005, she in fact did so as a foreigner balikbayan as she was then still a U.S. citizen. Normally, foreign nationals are required to obtain a visa before they can visit the Philippines. But under RA 6768,245 as amended by RA 9174,246 foreigner balikbayans247 are accorded the privilege of visa-free entry to the Philippines. This visa-free privilege is, however, not without conditions for it allows such balikbayans to stay in the Philippines for a limited period of one year only. x x x.

x x x.

I find no sufficient evidence showing that petitioner intended to reestablish a new domicile in the Philippines prior to taking her Oath of Allegiance on July 7, 2006; as such petitioner still has to prove that after taking said oath she has reestablished the Philippines as her new domicile by demonstrating that her physical presence here is coupled with animus manendi and an undeniable and definite intention to abandon her old domicile. However, since petitioner took her Oath of Allegiance in July 2006 and renounced her U.S. citizenship in October 2010, both events having occurred less than 10 years prior to the May 9, 2016 elections, the conclusion becomes inexorable that she could no longer possibly prove compliance with the 10-year residency requirement.

x x x."

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