Kauswagan mayor loses post over citizenship issue
A PERSON who became a US citizen, renounced it and re-acquired Filipino citizenship, then took an oath of allegiance but used the American passport several times cannot run for public office, the Supreme Court said.
In a 21-page decision penned by Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo, the high court dismissed the petition filed by Rommel C. Arnado and affirmed the Commission on Elections (Comelec) ruling disqualifying him to sit as mayor of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte.
Arnado is a natural-born Filipino citizen who became an American citizen as a consequence of his naturalization. He relinquished his American citizenship and on July 10, 2008 he took his oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines. Then, on April 3, 2009 he executed an affidavit of renunciation of his foreign citizenship.
That same year, Arnado filed his Certificate of Candidacy (COC) to run for mayor of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte for the 2010 polls. A petition was filed to disqualify him saying he is still a US citizen due to his continued use of his US passport.
The Comelec First Division disqualified Arnado but its en banc reversed the ruling saying his use of his US passport did not operate to revert his status to dual citizenship. While the case was pending, the filing of COCs has started for the 2013 elections. Arnado again filed his COC for the same position.
Eventually, in 2013, the high court reversed the Comelec en banc’s ruling.
Then, a disqualification case was again filed against Arnado citing the high court’s 2013 ruling that disqualified him for the 2010 post.
Then, Arnado was proclaimed winner in the 2013 polls.
The Comelec second division disqualified Arnado, citing his failure to comply with the requirements under Republic Act No. 9225 otherwise known as the Citizenship Retention and Reacquisition Act of 2003 of making personal and sworn renunciation of any and all foreign citizenship.
Comelec said while he executed an Affidavit of Renunciation in 2009, it is deemed withdrawn after he used his US passport to travel abroad. Arnado appealed the ruling to the Comelec en banc, which only affirmed the decision of the Comelec’s 2nd division.
Arnado then went to the high court which upheld the Comelec’s ruling.
The high court, in its recent ruling, said Arnado failed to correct the faults in the re-acquisition of his Filipino citizenship that became the basis for his disqualification in the 2010 elections.
“Only natural-born Filipinos who owe total and undivided allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines could run for and hold elective public office,” the high court said.
“The Court ruled that the use of a foreign passport after renouncing one’s foreign citizenship is a positive and voluntary act of representation as to one’s nationality and citizenship, it does not divest one of the reacquired Filipino citizenship but recants the Oath of Renunciation required to qualify one to run for an elective position,” the high court said.
The high court said Arnado should have executed an affidavit of renunciation every election period simply to avoid disqualification bids.
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