Or two years after becoming MTRCB Chief
Exclusive by Raïssa Robles, @Yvonne and @Baycas
Senator Poe told GMA News last month that she did.
In fact her exact words were:
“Hindi ako maglalakas-loob na tumanggap ng posisyon sa gobyerno, sa MTRCB pa lang, kung hindi ako kwalipikado at hindi ako Pilipino.”
“To revert back to Filipino citizenship, ire-renounce mo lang ‘yung US citizenship mo. ‘Yun lang ang ginawa ko. ‘Yun kasi ay condition ng Dual Citizenship Law. Hindi iyon to-reacquire Philippine citizenship kasi it reverts back to that automatically.”
Her statements, though, still raise the following questions:
How and when did she renounce her US citizenship?
Was the mere act of taking an oath as MTRCB chief tantamount to a renunciation under Philippine and US laws?
Or did she have to do anything formal to renounce her US citizenship?
Or was the oath a sufficient proof under Philippine law that she had already renounced her US citizenship when under US law that might not still be the case?
Finally, how do we now reconcile her claim with this US government record showing she had “lost” her US citizenship only in 2012 – two years after becoming MTRCB chairman but one year before running for senator?
UPDATE: As of 4:44 P.M., June 10, 2015
Senator Grace Poe’s chief-of-staff, Atty. Nelson Victorino, posted this on Facebook in response to this blog post:
“In response to Raissa Robles’ assertion that Grace Poe only dropped her US citizenship in 2012 as shown by a document from the US State Department, allow me to state that:
She had dual citizenship but she voluntarily renounced her US citizenship by filing a sworn statement with the US State Department prior to her assumption as mtrcb chair in 2010 or early 2011. But as the process in renunciation of US citizenship goes, you file your sworn statement of renunciation but as a matter of course, the state department does not issue any official document of acceptance because as far as they are concerned by that action alone, you are no longer an american as i was told by my friends from the US Embassy. So it appears that eventually there was confirmation by the state department which as it does merely confirmed what has been done much earlier. On the other hand, per legal requirement and as far as the Philippine government is concerned, she renounced it under oath prior to assumption of office at mtrcb, and that is all what is needed whether or not the US acted on that to me does not matter much. Because in the first place an act of renunciation does not carry with it a request for approval of such renunciation. It is simply a unilateral act with immediate effect. By her acts starting with that filing with state department would attest to such renunciation like she no longer used her US passport, in fact she applied for a tourist visa at the embassy which was granted and no longer considered herself as a dual citizen but just simply filipino since that renunciation.”
It was “Yvonne”, a commenter on this site, who first pointed this out to me – that the US government formally recorded a “Llamanzares Mary Grace Poe” as losing her citizenship only in 2012.
This document contains the following explanation:
DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY
Internal Revenue Service
Quarterly Publication of Individuals,
Who Have Chosen To Expatriate, as
Required by Section 6039G
AGENCY: Internal Revenue Service (IRS),
SUMMARY: This notice is provided in
accordance with IRC section 6039G of
the Health Insurance Portability and
Accountability Act (HIPPA) of 1996, as
amended. This listing contains the name
of each individual losing United States
citizenship (within the meaning of
section 877(a) or 877A) with respect to
whom the Secretary received
information during the quarter ending
June 30, 2012. For purposes of this
listing, long-term residents, as defined
in section 877(e)(2), are treated as if they
were citizens of the United States who
You can view the document below:
You can download this document by clicking here.
Baycas, another commenter on this site, pointed to the very same thing some weeks later.
I asked both Yvonne and Baycas not to post their discoveries as comments until I had examined the issue further.
Upon further examination, it seems two things are clear.
First, Senator Poe was even then aware that under Philippine law a dual citizen has to renounce non-Filipino citizenship before taking up any appointive or elective position in government.
The Commission on Filipinos Overseas, a state agency, elaborates on this requirement on pages 55 and 56 of its online handbook. See below:
Civil and Political Rights and Liabilities Attendant to Dual Citizenship
Filipinos who retain or re-acquire Philippine citizenship under the law shall enjoy full civil and political rights and be subject to all attendant liabilities and responsibilities under existing laws of the Philippines and the following:
1. Those intending to exercise their right of suffrage must meet the requirements under the Constitution, Republic Act No. 9189 or “The Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003” and other existing laws;
2. Those seeking elective public office in the Philippines shall meet the qualifications required by the Constitution and existing laws and, at the time of filing of the certificate of candidacy, make a personal and sworn renunciation of any and all foreign citizenship before any public officer authorized to administer an oath;
3. Those appointed to any public office shall subscribe and swear to an oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines and its duly constituted authorities prior to their assumption of office, provided, that they renounce their oath of allegiance to the country where they took that oath;
In fact, Senator Poe herself told reporters last May 18:
Poe: Ako’y naging dual citizen noon, but I had to give it up. Kinailangan kong isuko iyan. Pinapayagan natin ang dual citizen dahil nakikita natin na maraming OFWs na tumitira sa ibang bansa, pero may pagmamahal sa bayan at kailangan pa ring bumalik dito. So may dual citizen. Pero ang kondisyon niyan, kapag ikaw ay maninilbihan sa gobyerno, sa ano mang posisyon, kailangan ay isuko mo kung ano man ang naging isa pang citizenship mo.
The second thing clear is that by the time she ran for the Senate, she was already formally dropped from the list of American individual taxpayers.
But now comes the not-so-clear part – was she qualified to become MTRCB chief when she was appointed in 2010?
Because it seems a US citizen does not automatically lose citizenship by serving in a foreign government. Here is a discussion on this from the US Department of State website, which only talks of a “Possible Loss of US nationality” after being appointed or elected to a post in a foreign government:
Advice About Possible Loss of U.S. Nationality and Seeking Public Office in a Foreign State
Section 101(a)(22) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)) states that “the term ‘national of the United States’ means (A) a citizen of the United States, or (B) a person who, though not a citizen of the United States, owes permanent allegiance to the United States.” Therefore, U.S. citizens are also U.S. nationals. Non-citizen nationality status refers only to individuals who were born either in American Samoa or on Swains Island to parents who are not citizens of the United States. Employment, while over the age of 18, with the government of a foreign country or a political subdivision thereof is a potentially expatriating act pursuant to Section 349(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act if you are a citizen of that foreign country or if you take an oath of allegiance to that country in connection to such employment. Such employment, however, will result in one’s expatriation if done voluntarily with the intention of relinquishing U.S. citizenship.
The Department has, however, adopted a uniform administrative standard of evidence based on the premise that U.S. nationals intend to retain their U.S. citizenship when they naturalize as nationals of a foreign state, declare their allegiance to a foreign state, serve in the military forces of a foreign state not engaged in hostilities against the United States, or accept non-policy level employment with a foreign government. This administrative premise is not applicable when an individual fills a policy-level position with a foreign government. In such cases, the Department of State will carefully ascertain the individual’s intent toward his or her U.S. nationality.
Because the Department presumes that U.S. nationals employed in non-policy level positions in a foreign government do not have the requisite intent to relinquish their U.S. nationality, U.S nationals employed in such positions are not required to present evidence of an intent to retain their U.S. nationality when they commenced their employment with the foreign government. On the other hand, because there is no administrative presumption that U.S. nationals who hold policy-level positions in foreign governments necessarily intend to retain their U.S. nationality , efforts are made to adjudicate fully such cases to determine the individual’s intent. Certain policy level positions are inherently incompatible with retaining U.S. nationality. Cases of this nature generally involve heads of state or foreign ministers. Except with respect to these positions, the Department will not typically consider employment in a policy-level position to lead to loss of nationality if the individual says that he or she did not intend to lose their U.S. nationality and if the individual’s actions were consistent with the retention of U.S. nationality. Actions consistent with the retention of U.S. nationality include, but are not limited to, travel on a U.S. passport, voting in U.S. elections, payment of U.S. taxes, maintenance of a residence in the United States, etc.. In any event each policy-level position case is fully evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
An individual filling a non-policy level position will lose his/her U.S. nationality if he or she indicates an intent to relinquish U.S. nationality and if his/her behavior subsequent to accepting or performing the governmental duties is consistent with an intention to relinquish U.S. nationality. Examples of behavior inconsistent with the retention of U.S. nationality are use of a foreign passport, non-payment of U.S. taxes, failing to vote in U.S. elections, not maintaining a residence in the United States, etc. For further information about possible loss of U.S. nationality and seeking public office in a foreign state, please contact:
Office of Legal Affairs (CA/OCS/L)
Bureau of Consular Affairs
U.S. Department of State
600 19th Street, N.W. -10th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20431
Washington, D.C. 20522-1710
Based on this explanation, I don’t know if she lost her US citizenship when she took her oath as MTRCB chief. Is the office considered a policy-level post?
One way to find out, I guess, is to ask her when she last paid taxes to the US internal revenue service. And exercised her right to vote in a US election.
I asked @Yvonne to check the years before 2012 to see if Sen. Poe was included in a similar list. @Yvonne did not see her name in previous lists.
Perhaps there was a lag time between the formal renunciation and the dropping of people who have renounced their citizenship from the taxpayers list, I said. But @Yvonne expressed doubts that the US bureaucracy would be so behind doing such a list which would have an impact on paying taxes.
Once Senator Grace Poe renounced her US citizenship, what kind of citizenship did she revert to?
She is a foundling. But the story of how she was found appears to be changing dramatically.
Earlier, we were told – and it made for a very good telenovela – that in the early morning of September 3, 1968 a woman named Sayong Militar had approached the font for holy water and discovered “an infant wrapped in a blanket and covered in blood.”
But the story has now changed to this – that the baby was “found” by a cockpit worker named Edgardo Militar, not by Edgardo’s relative named Sayong. And more confusingly, Edgardo was probably Grace Poe’s father.
The initial questions begging for answers are – where was Grace Poe’s mother? Why was the newborn baby not with the mother but with the father?
I must confess that I was told by a lawyer weeks ago that there would be attempts to question Poe’s citizenship through her birth records. I thought this would be done next year yet but I was wrong.
The lawyer told me that the only sure way to naturally confirm her citizenship is if her birth mother surfaces. She would be around 70 if she were alive today. Surely, she knew what had become of her child, given the tightness of communities then and the countrywide popularity of actors Susan Roces and Fernando Poe Jr.
As for me, the circumstances of Senator Poe’s birth is not important. How she handles the issue is what’s important.
And even more important is Senator Poe’s answer to the following issues:
ONE – What does she intend to do with the pending cases against the Marcoses? And with the fact that the bulk of their ill-gotten and stolen wealth is still hidden abroad? To begin with, does she even (as evidence overwhelmingly shows) think that the Marcoses did stash ill-gotten wealth and should now return the money to the government?
TWO – What is her stand on the South China Sea issue? Will she enter into joint exploration, knowing full well that China will only agree to it if it is done in the context of their sovereignty?
THREE – What is her stand on the criminal cases of Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Bong Revilla, Jinggoy Estrada and former President Gloria Arroyo? Will the justice department under her watch continue to backstop the pursuit of these cases?
FOUR – What is her stand on any cases that might be filed against President Benigno Aquino once he steps down from office?
These are the questions I’m eager to learn her answers to for now.