(UPDATE) “I have always been a Filipino.”
This was what actor Aga Muhlach told the Commission on Elections (Comelec) when he personally attended the hearing of his disqualification case in Intramuros, Manila.
Accompanied by his wife Charlene Gonzales, Muhlach asked the Comelec secretariat to dismiss a case filed against him by a certain Gilmar Pacamarra.
“(I) never made any false material representation in his certificate of candidacy and (I am) qualified to run as a member of the House of Representatives,” Muhlach stated in his 12-page reply.
Earlier in October, Pacamarra asked Comelec’s First Division to disqualify Muhlach for committing “false material representation” in his certificate of candidacy that he filed on Oct. 5.
Pacamarra claimed Muhlach is no longer a Filipino citizen considering that he has a Spanish passport since 2011.
But Muhlach, who is running for congressman in a district in Camarines Sur, insisted he never relinquished his Filipino citizenship.
The actor’s counsel, lawyer Romulo Macalintal, argued that Muhlach is a natural-born citizen since he has continually resided in the country since his birth on August 12, 1969 in Manila.
Macalintal explained that while being a natural born Filipino, the Spanish government recognized his client as a Spanish citizen by origin.
“Contrary to petitioners’ claim that respondent acquired Spanish citizenship, the truth is that the respondent was merely recognized by Spain as a Spanish citizen by origin or historical,” Macalintal said.
He also argued that Muhlach was never naturalized as a Spanish citizen.
“Thus, the respondent never lost his status as a natural born citizen of the Philippines. He’s willing to relinquish his Spanish passport, he (Muhlach) says,” he noted.
Muhlach however welcomed the disqualification case, which for him serves as an affirmation that his bid threatens opponents in Camarines Sur.
The Liberal Party (LP) candidate added he has prepared for such moves before deciding to run for public office.
“I wasn’t surprised but I wasn’t expecting it. I didn’t expect that it’s going to be like this but I’m learning,” Muhlach told reporters.
“I’m happy to be here because this is the first time I experience this. It’s okay, I'll go through it,” he added.