Saturday, July 26, 2008

SC: Dual citizens can’t run, hold elective posts

Affirms Comelec vs Fil-Am village chairman

By Tetch Torres

MANILA, Philippines -- The Supreme Court ruled on Friday that only exclusively Filipino citizens can run and occupy elective public positions as it affirmed a Commission on Elections (Comelec) decision voiding the election of a barangay (village) captain in an Iloilo town who also holds American citizenship.

“A Filipino-American or any dual citizen cannot run for any elective public position in the Philippines unless he or she personally swears to a renunciation of all foreign citizenship at the time of filing the certificate of candidacy," the seven-page en banc resolution high court penned by Associate Justice Ruben T. Reyes said.

The decision rejected the petition of dual citizen Eugenio Lopez seeking to reverse the Comelec’s decision voiding his election as chairman of Barangay Bagacay, San Dionisio town, which he ran for and won last October 29.

Lopez’ qualifications to be barangay chairman were contested by Tessie Villanueva. He defended himself saying he holds dual citizenship under Republic Act. No. 9225, or the Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003.

However, high court said that, while the law allows one to reacquire Filipino citizenship, it also provides that anyone seeking elective public office should first "make a personal and sworn renunciation of any and all foreign citizenship before any public officer."

Thus, even if Lopez won the elections, took his oath of office and began to discharge the functions of barangay chairman, "his victory can not cure the defect of his candidacy," the tribunal ruled.

"Garnering the most number of votes does not validate the election of a disqualified candidate because the application of the constitutional and statutory provisions on disqualification is not a matter of popularity," the high court said.

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