SC unseats Lanao del Norte mayor

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By Mikha FloresVERA Files

The Supreme Court has unseated a mayor in Lanao del Norte and barred him from seeking re-election in Monday’s polls because of his continued use of a U.S. passport.

Voting 10-5, the high court upheld a Commission on Elections decision disqualifying mayor Rommel Arnado of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte from running for public office after he was found to have used an American passport four times in entering and leaving the Philippines.

The decision penned by Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno ruled that using a foreign passport is “a positive and voluntary act of representation as to one’s nationality and citizenship”. A foreign passport may not remove a reacquired Filipino citizenship but it recants an oath of renunciation which is required to qualify for an elective position, it said.

It said that while Arnado followed the steps required to qualify as candidate for public office, his use of an American passport puts the issue of his citizenship to question.

“The renunciation of foreign citizenship is not a hollow oath that can be simply professed at any time only to violated the next day. It requires an absolute and perpetual renunciation of the foreign citizenship and a full divestment of all civil and political rights…” Sereno wrote.

The decision said Arnado was an exclusive Filipino citizen for only eleven days, from April 3, 2009 when he took an oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines to April 14, 2009 when he left the country and used a US passport.

“Citizenship is not a matter of convenience. It is a badge of identity that comes with attendant civil and political rights accorded by the state to its citizens,” Sereno wrote. “Holding public office demands full and undivided allegiance to the Republic and no other,” she added.

Arnado first filed his certificate of candidacy for mayor in November 2009. In April 2010, a rival candidate filed a petition to disqualify him on the basis of is residency.

The ousted mayor will be replaced by Casan Maquiling, who obtained the second highest number of votes after Arnado. He will assume office just a few days before the May 13 elections and has only until June 30 to serve his term as Kauswagan mayor.

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for "true".)

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Philippines hits back at Beijing over South China Sea
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    The Philippines on Saturday shot back at Beijing's criticism of its activities in the South China Sea, saying they were "in no way comparable to China's massive reclamation activities" in the waters. It also said accusations that Manila was being "hypocritical" would not distract people from Beijing's own actions which were raising regional tensions. "The Philippines' possible undertaking of necessary maintenance and repairs on its existing facilities in the West Philippine Sea... is in no …

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    Boxing hero Manny Pacquiao, who faces his biggest fight against unbeaten American Floyd Mayweather, already holds top spot as the number one taxpayer in the Philippines, government records showed Saturday. A list of top individual tax-payers for 2013, posted on the Bureau of Internal Revenue website, put the boxer-turned-congressman at number one with 163.84 million pesos ($3.72 million) in taxes paid. Internal revenue chief Kim Henares confirmed that Pacquiao topped the list but stressed …

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