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Presidency not to be desired, says Grace Poe

SENATOR Grace Poe said  Thursday  that the presidency was a privilege, but it “it’s abnormal for anyone to desire it.”

“It’s a big challenge. Six years of their life almost being in a convent. You always have to be detached in a way, but also immersed at the same time. It’s not easy,” said Poe when questioned about her plans for the 2016 elections.

“I’m sorry if at this time, this is still my answer. I have no advertisement, I am not fishing for anything. I’m still doing my job,” said Poe, who has been placing strongly in recent opinion polls about the 2016 presidential and vice presidential elections.

Open forum.  Senator Grace Poe answers questions from members of
the Rotary Club of Manila and its guests during yesterday’s
Journalism Awards, as RCM president Frank Evaristo and US
Ambassador Philip Goldberg listen. EY ACASIO
At a forum following the 2015 Rotary Club of Manila Journalism Awards ceremony at the New World Hotel in Makati, Poe also apologized to the people who were pushing her to run.

“I’ sorry to disappoint you at this juncture, but I still have a lot to consider. I know some people are saying I’m playing hard to get, but this is nota n easy decision to make,” Poe said.

She conceded she neither had the machinery nor the money to run for president or vice president.

Poe said she was interested in applying approaches that worked in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand in the Philippines, but these did not comprise a full program of government.

“Am I ready? Not yet because by the time that I announce [that I’m running], I’d like to have a complete program of government that the people can use as a basis to determine if I’m worthy or not,” she said.

She said declaring that she would run at this point would be reverting to “personality politics.”

Poe also took a swipe at her detractors for questioning her eligibility to run for president in 2016, saying this brought the issue to the consciousness of the people, and gave her the opportunity to address them.

Poe asserted that she is a Filipino citizen and is qualified to run for President or Vice President, despite assertions by the acting president of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance that she would fail to make the 10-year residency requirement next year.

But some law experts  on Thursday  maintained that Poe’s travel records showing she used her American passport until 2009 reinforced her ineligibility to seek higher office in 2016.

Former law deans Pacifico Agabin and Amado Valdez said the claim of Poe that she has been a resident of the country since 2006 appears to be untruthful based on immigration records earlier reported in the media.

Agabin and Valdez argued that the computation on Poe’s residency in the Philippines should commence in 2010, when she renounced her American citizenship, upon accepting her appointment as Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) chairwoman.

“Her residency presumably started in 2010 upon renunciation of her US citizenship,” Agabin said, in a text message when sought for comment on the issue.

Agabin emphasized that Poe’s use of her US passport during her trips to the Philippines could be indicative of her desire at the time to permanently reside in the US.

Valdez shared with Agabin’s opinion, saying the travel records could destroy the credibility of Poe’s claims on her residency.

“These (Immigration) records would prove she is not qualified as per her residency status,” Valdez said.

Valdez said Poe actually renounced her Filipino citizenship when she moved to the US and acquired citizenship there.

“She lost her residency in the Philippines when she established permanent residence in the US,” he added.

To become a US citizen, one must declare under oath that he or she “absolutely and entirely renounces and abjures all allegiance and fidelity” to one’s former country.

In the same oath, one even has to vow to bear arms on behalf of the United States.

Poe’s use of a US passport as late as 2010 was indicative that she did not consider the Philippines her domicile, Valdez said.

This is because when she traveled using a US passport, the assumption was that she intended to return to her do domicle in the United States, not in the Philippines.

Valdez said because of her reported travel records, Poe “may have lost her opportunity to shed light on her residency issue herself.”

University of the Philippines law professor Harry Roque pointed out that the travel records could be proof that she lied in her certificate of candidacy in the 2013 senatorial polls where she claimed to be a resident of the country for over six years at that time.

“From 2010 when she renounced her US citizenship, she was only a resident for three years in “These (travel) records only show that she had chosen the US as her domicile. She cannot just claim longer residency to again qualify for election,” Roque added.

All three law experts reiterated that this 10-year residency rule should be followed because it was explicitly stated in the Constitution.

They added that  animus revertendi  or intent to return doctrine was “a legal fiction.”

Reports said that based on immigration logs, Poe had travelled to and from the Philippines at least 21 times using her US passport.

Arrival logs reportedly showed Poe arriving in the Philippines using a US passport on Nov. 9, 2003; Dec. 13, 2004; in September 2005; March 11, 2006; July 5, 2006; July 23, 2007; Oct. 5, 2008; May 21,2009; and Aug. 3, 2009.

Poe also used her US passport for her departures on July 2, 2006; July 26, 2006; Sept. 11, 2006; Nov. 1, 2006; Oct. 31, 2007; April 20, 2009; July 31, 2009 and Dec. 27, 2009, aboard Philippine Airlines Flight 112.

The Bureau of Immigration has refused to confirm or deny the authenticity of the reported records, saying that journalists inquiring about the issue were not “concerned parties” and that Poe’s travel records are “not being checked.”

Poe, a foundling legally adopted by movie stars Fernando Poe Jr. and Susan Roces, was born and raised in the Philippines but later moved to the US to finish her undergraduate studies and eventually worked there.

She only decided to return to the Philippines after her father died in 2004. She later renounced her US citizenship so she could be appointed in the Philippines as MTRCB chair in 2010.

Another report, however, said her renunciation of US citizenship only became official in 2012, citing federal documents.

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