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‘American’ poll bet rapped

The Commission on Elections  has been asked to cancel the certificate of candidacy of Marinduque congressional candidate Regina Ongsiako Reyes for being an American citizen and for misrepresenting the documents she submitted to the poll body. Joseph S. B. Tan, a registered voter of Torrijos town, told the Comelec that Reyes’ candidacy for Marinduque’s lone seat in the House of Representatives is a violation of Section 6, Article VI of the Constitution and Section 74 of the Omnibus Election Code (OEC). Tan said that Section 6, Article VI of the Constitution provides that “no person shall be a member of the House of Representatives unless he is a natural born citizen of the Philippines and, on the day of the election, is at least twenty five years of age, able to read and write, and, except the party list representatives, a registered voter in the district in which he shall be elected, and a resident thereof for a period of not less than one year immediately preceding the day of elections.” The case against Reyes with the Comelec is docketed as SPA No. 13-053 (DC) and entitled “Mr. Joseph Socorro B. Tan vs. Atty. Regina Ongsiako Reyes.” According to Tan, Reyes’ COC should be cancelled “because she acquired citizenship of the United States sometime in 2005 and was issued US passport No. 306278853 where she admitted that she is a citizen of the United States of America.” Tan stressed that “based on the certification issued by Acting Chief Simeon L. Sanchez of the Verification and Certification Unit of the Bureau of Immigration  dated January 22, 20l3, the records of the bureau reveal that Reyes first used her US passport on October l4, 2005 when she left the Philippines and she used said passport several times up to June 30, 20l2 when she left the country for the US.” At the same time, he pointed out that “Reyes did not apply for dual citizenship, and even if she did, there is no record that she renounced her US citizenship.” He said that under Section 349(a)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, a US citizen can only lose her US citizenship by voluntarily “making a formal renunciation of nationality before a diplomatic or consular officer of the United States in a foreign state, in such form as may be prescribed by the Secretary of State”. “Thus,” Tan said, “Reyes’ statement in her COC that she is a natural born Filipino citizen is a ground for cancellation of said COC under Section 78 of the OEC.” Tan also said that while Reyes stated in her COC that her civil status is “single,” she admitted that she “married Rep. Hermilando Mandanas of Batangas in a religious rite,” and records show that she was previously married to Magdaleno Pena, Eddie Avellana and Saturnino S. Ador Dionisio. “Under Section 74 of OEC, a candidate must state under oath her civil status. Since Reyes made an incorrect entry under oath that she is single, then such violation of Section 74 of the OEC is a ground for cancellation of her COC,” he said. According to Tan, Reyes stated in her COC that her date of birth is June 3, 1964. Likewise, Reyes stated under oath in her COC that her date of birth is June 3, l964. “But public records showed that  her date of birth is July 3, 1959 and her failure to state under oath her true date of birth is a ground for cancellation of her COC,” he said. Tan said that Reyes also stated that she was not a permanent resident or immigrant of a foreign country in her COC.  “Again, this is a ground for cancellation of her COC since she was a permanent resident of the United States prior to her grant of US citizenship,” he said.
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