‘Animus revertendi’ and Grace Poe
LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” (Hebrews 9:14, the Holy Bible).
ANIMUS REVERTENDI AND GRACE POE: Is Sen. Grace Poe really disqualified from running for the presidency in 2016 in view of her declaration in her certificate of candidacy when she run for senator in 2013 that she had been a resident of the Philippines for less than 10 years, as Malabon Rep. Toby Tiangco of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) is saying?
The answer is no, Poe is not disqualified on ground of residency. She can run for the presidency or for any other elective position, for that matter, even if she has not resided in the country for 10 years or more immediately prior to an election, according to Supreme Court decisions dealing precisely with candidates who have not continuously resided in the places where they intend to run, and thus have not completed the residency requirement under existing election laws.
The decisions of the tribunal make use of the so-called doctrine of “animus revertendi”, which says that even if a candidate is not an actual resident of a town or city but intends to return to it every now and then, that candidate can be allowed to run for any political position in that place. This doctrine, I believe, can apply to Grace.
IS GRACE POE A NATURAL BORN FILIPINO? Be that as it may, UNA may want to look into whether or not Grace is a natural born citizen under the Philippine Constitution, so as to entitle her to run as president or vice president in 2016.
This should be a more substantial argument, if UNA now sufficiently feels that the candidacy of Vice President Jejomar Binay is threatened by the seemingly surging and apparently unstoppable popularity of Grace. Again, as we all know, only those who are natural born citizens can run for the presidency or vice presidency of the country.
Now, what is a natural born citizen, and how does this affect Grace? According to the Constitution, a natural born Filipino citizen is a Filipino citizen who did not have to do anything to perfect his or he Filipino citizenship. In the case of Grace, while it can be argued that she was originally a natural born citizen, he having acquired US citizenship meant renouncing her Filipino citizenship.
WHAT US CITIZENSHIP DID TO GRACE POE: When Grace returned to the Philippines and made a vow to become a Filipino citizen again, that meant she was becoming a Filipino citizen once again as a consequence of that vow. For all legal intents and purposes, therefore, Grace had to perform an act so she could become a Filipino citizen once more.
Anyway one looks at this situation, it is clear that Grace is no longer a natural born citizen. She may have been a natural born citizen before she became a US citizen, but her acquiring US citizenship certainly removed her status as a natural born citizen. That being the case, there is a serious legal issue about whether she can really run for president or not.
I am not against Grace Poe. And neither am I for anyone else. I am part of a group of Filipino citizens who believe that the present system of doing things in the Philippines, particularly in the field of governance, will not yield any substantial and beneficial change for the long-suffering masses. Yet, I believe that the law must be upheld impartially at all times, no matter who is involved.
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