Cayetano confirms Wikipedia report

By Rodel E. Rodis

AFTER my article (“Is Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano a PH Citizen?”) appeared in the Inquirer.net last week , my Facebook page was immediately besieged by the social media trolls of Sen. Cayetano who labeled my article “FAKE NEWS” and who went to great pains to disparage and discredit Wikipedia, which for today’s online users is what the Encyclopedia Britannica was to researchers in the pre-Internet past.

In his Facebook response to my article, Sen. Cayetano personally declared my opinion article to be a “hatchet job, defamation and fake news” which he claimed “got so many things in the article wrong.”

What exactly did my article get “wrong”?

Sen. Cayetano’s first correction: “To answer your headline: No I am not an American Citizen; I never chose to be an American Citizen.”

Wrong. The “headline” asked if you are a Philippine citizen, not if you are an American citizen.

It is also a lie that Cayetano “never chose to be an American citizen.” In his Comelec protest action against Cayetano, former Pateros Mayor Jose Capco, Jr, produced documentation from official government records showing that on January 23, 1985, Alan Peter Cayetano personally applied for and obtained an Alien Certificate of Registration (ACR) asserting that he was an American citizen. As Atty. Capco pointed out, the law required Cayetano to personally apply for this ACR and he dutifully complied.
ttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQo0V_n9agA

What I quoted in my article was Wikipedia’s report that Alan Peter Cayetano “renounced his US citizenship to stand for election to the Philippine House of Representatives in the 1998 elections, and to gain admission to the Philippine Bar that same month.”

Https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_former_United_States_citizens_who_relinquished_their_nationality

In his response, Sen. Cayetano confirmed the essential facts provided by Wikipedia: “But even without any legal obligation nor necessity, I gave up my American Citizenship because even before I took the Philippine Bar or ran for Congress, I knew I wanted to serve the Filipino People and knew I could only best do that by having no questions to my allegiance”.

Sen. Cayetano was elected to the Philippine Congress in May of 1998 and became a member of the Philippine bar that same year. So he claims he gave up his US citizenship before May 1998.

But according to the Federal Register of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-1999-04-22/html/99-10022.htm), Sen. Cayetano’s name appears on the list of individuals “losing United States citizenship (within the meaning of section 877(a)) with respect to whom the Secretary received information during the quarter ending March 31, 1999.”

Was Sen. Cayetano still officially a US citizen when he ran for the Philippine Congress in 1998 and when he was admitted to the Philippine bar that same year?

While Sen. Cayetano openly acknowledges that he gave up his US citizenship only in either 1998 or 1999, the fact remains that when he ran for and won a seat as a Taguig City Councilor in 1991 and as Taguig City Vice Mayor in 1995, he was still a US citizen, by his own admission.

This is a significant issue for former Mayor Rommel Arnado who reacquired his status as a Philippine citizen in July 2008 and then renounced his American citizenship in April 2009 before running for mayor of his hometown of Kauswagan, Lanao in 2010. After winning the 2010 election, Arnado won reelection by a landslide in 2013.

After evidence was presented that Mayor Arnado used his US passport after he had renounced his US citizenship, the Comelec issued an order disqualifying him which Arnado appealed. In an 8-4 vote on August 18, 2015, the Philippine Supreme Court upheld the Comelec’s disqualification of Arnado “in a decision that has now become part of the body of jurisprudence on the question of the qualification of candidates who once held foreign citizenship”

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/723478/sc-ousts-american-mayor-of-lanao-town.

The Supreme Court ruled:“Only natural-born Filipinos who owe total and undivided allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines could run for and hold elective public office.”

In his defense to my article’s charge, Sen. Cayetano cited the Comelec’s decision in Capco’s disqualification case against him. On April 19, 2007, Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos told reporters that the Comelec had “junked” Capco’s disqualification case against Cayetano finding that Cayetano is a “natural-born Filipino citizen” because he was born in the Philippines with a Filipino father and an American mother.

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/41450/news/nation/comelec-rules-with-finality-that-cayetano-is-filipino

But is Sen. Cayetano really a “natural born Filipino citizen”?
The provision on Philippine citizenship is found in Article IV of the 1987 Philippine Constitution. Section 1 states the following are citizens of the Philippines including:

“[3] Those born before January 17, 1973, of Filipino mothers, who elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority.”

If we accept a sexist interpretation of the law that this provision applies only to those with Filipino mothers and not those with Filipino fathers like Sen. Cayetano, then that would be his defense.

But if the law is gender-neutral and does not discriminate between Filipino mothers and fathers, then this section would apply to Sen. Cayetano who was born in 1970 and who elected US citizenship in 1985 when he applied for and obtained his Alien Certificate of Registration as a US citizen.

Article IV Section 2 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution states that: “Natural-born citizens are those who are citizens of the Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their Philippine citizenship. Those who elect Philippine citizenship in accordance with paragraph (3), Section 1 hereof shall be deemed natural-born citizens.”

Sen. Cayetano did not “elect Philippine citizenship” in 1985 when he obtained his ACR as a US citizen. The Comelec’s 2007 decision is useless because Chairman Abalos was satisfied to just examine Cayetano’s birth certificate to rule “with finality” that Cayetano is a “natural born Filipino citizen.”

There are dozens of Filipino Americans in San Francisco who have applied for a Philippine passport based on the fact that they were born in the Philippines of an American father and a Filipino mother but who left the Philippines with a US passport before they reached 21. Their applications for dual citizenship were denied by the Philippine Consulate because they were deemed not to have “elected Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority.”

In his response to my opinion piece, Sen. Cayetano presents himself as a poor victim who has been unfairly picked on even though, he declares, “I have dedicated my life, risked my life and sacrificed much for the Philippines. It is my duty and honor to do so.”

Sometimes, when someone is so full of himself, it is tempting to ask exactly how he risked his life and how much he sacrificed for his country.

In one TV interview shown on The Filipino Channel (TFC) a few years ago, I recall watching Sen. Cayetano proudly show off his prized collection of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant collectibles. If someone offered him $200,000 for them, he would likely reject the offer as way below their fair market value. After all, he sacrificed so much time collecting them that it just would be too much to ask him to part with them.

Perhaps Sen. Cayetano can also explain how much he risked his life to contribute P71.3 million pesos ($1.42 M) to the 2016 presidential campaign of Rodrigo Duterte, which is three times higher than his P23.6 million declared net worth in 2015. (Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism report 12/08/2016).

http://news.abs-cbn.com/news/12/08/16/cayetano-donations-to-duterte-campaign-higher-than-2015-net-worth

Sen. Cayetano also pointed out that “the basic principle of both journalism and due process is to give the accused a chance to answer.” I am certain that the 8,000+ victims of the extrajudicial killings of the Duterte government he supports would have welcomed due process and the chance to answer the charge of being drug addicts before being sentenced to death.

Sen. Cayetano attacked the Inquirer for presenting “One sided news with malicious views.” But this is not fair to the Inquirer because the day after my article appeared, another Inquirer columnist, Oscar Franklin Tan, wrote his opinion on the matter (“Yasay and Cayetano citizenship different”) stating that the law I cited did not exist.

Let us be clear that the basic facts I presented in my commentary are not in dispute. By his own admission, Sen. Cayetano was a US citizen from birth until he relinquished his US citizenship in either 1998 or 1999. Except for the precise date when Cayetano officially relinquished his US citizenship, the essential facts are not disputed. It is the legal interpretation of the law that Oscar Franklin Tan questions.

This deserves a serious discussion. If I am wrong, then dozens of Filipino Americans in San Francisco, and perhaps thousands all over the world, deserve to have their applications for dual citizenship approved because there is no legal requirement that dual citizens must “elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority” to be considered “natural born Filipinos” as Article IV of the Philippine Constitution requires.

If I am right, then Sen. Cayetano should immediately resign his post.
 
(The author is a natural-born Filipino who became a US citizen in 1981 and who then reacquired his Philippine citizenship in 2003 to become a Dual Citizen. Send comments to Rodislawyer@gmail.com or mail them to the Law Offices of Rodel Rodis at 2429 Ocean Avenue, San Francisco, CA