Veteran solon says Poe does not deserve presidency

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 20 (PNA) — The Bagong Umaga presidential hopeful, Senator Grace Poe, does not deserve the presidential post, a former Albay lawmaker and veteran politician said.

Former representative Edcel C. Lagman of the first district of Albay, a former ally of ex-president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and whose son Rep. Grecon “Grix” Lagman is a Liberal Party ally, said Poe does not deserve the presidency after she deliberately cut off allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines.

“Grace Poe, at 33 years of age, abdicated fidelity to the Philippines and disavowed loyalty to the republic, and this does not make her deserving of the presidency. No one in Philippine history has vied for the presidency who was previously an alien, a citizen of a foreign country by naturalization,” he said.

Lagman — who served as legislator in Albay for 18 years before relinquishing his post to his daughter, former Mayor Krisel Lagman-Luistro, and now to his son, Grecon — said loyalty was shattered.

“When Grace Poe swore allegiance to the United States of America on Oct. 18, 2001, and became an American citizen, she deliberately severed loyalty to the Republic of the Philippines,” he said.

“While by no means did she commit treason as an enemy of the state when she abandoned Philippine citizenship, it would be difficult, if not foolhardy, for Filipinos to reward her and entrust to her the premier position that the nation can bestow,” he added.

Poe, 47, an independent presidential candidate, stands against Vice President Jejomar Binay and former Interior Minister Manuel Roxas for the presidential post.

“If ever Grace Poe is elected president, is there any assurance that she will honor her solemn oath of office given her shifting loyalties and ephemeral patriotism? Are Filipinos ready and willing to suffer this alarming contingency? Or should Grace Poe give herself more time to prove fealty to her restored loyalty and manifest more clearly her untested potentials?,” Lagman wondered.

Although, according to him, loyalty to the republic is not one of the enumerated minimum legal qualifications for the position of president, but it permeates and is ascendant to all qualifications. It is said that loyalty is an essential ingredient in any civilized and humane system of morals.

And although prior citizenship may be reacquired, repatriation is invariably dictated by convenience, not motivated by conviction.

Lagman said that any subsequent repatriation cannot obliterate the prior act of renunciation, but only erases the effects of such renunciation as when Grace Poe, on July 7, 2006, reassumed her status as a Filipino citizen by repatriation, although it was only on Oct. 20, 2010, more than four years later, when she executed an affidavit renouncing her allegiance to the United States of America and forfeiting her American citizenship to pave the way the following day, Oct. 21, 2010, for her oath-taking as chair of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board.

“It is a prerequisite in juridical proceedings that a litigant must come to court with clean hands. With more reason, in running for the presidency, a candidate must seek the people’s mandate with unsullied loyalty to the republic,” the veteran solon said.

Section 2 of Article IV of the 1987 Constitution provides: “Natural-born citizens are those who are citizens of the Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their Philippine citizenship. Those who elect Philippine citizenship in accordance with paragraph (3), Section 1 hereof shall be deemed natural-born citizens.”

The import of being natural-born is not the thesis of this commentary. It is only used as a basis for contrast with losing citizenship by foreign naturalization. Renunciation of citizenship as a condition for becoming a citizen of another country is a categorical and willful act, unlike the automatic vesting of a natural-born status, Lagman said.

Earlier, Rep. Leni G. Robredo also questioned the moral rightness of Senator Grace Poe for giving up her Filipino citizenship but regained it again following her quest for public office in the land.

Lagman questioned Poe’s total abandonment and repudiation of loyalty to her native country as indelible.

“Such act of absolute abandonment and repudiation of loyalty and allegiance to her native country is indelible. Loyalty cannot be discarded and retrieved like apparel in one’s wardrobe. Severance of loyalty is almost irredeemable. No legal fiction can restore fractured loyalty to its original whole,” he said.

According to him, loyalty must never be trivialized as it must endure the most compelling vicissitudes.

“But once loyalty is forfeited for reasons not insuperable, its retrieval is peripheral, its restoration incomplete. In the Japanese Bushido, loyalty is the most important and often emphasized virtue, ahead of righteousness, courage, benevolence, respect, sincerity and honor,” the veteran Albayano politician and expert lawyer said.(PNA)