Sunday, April 8, 2012

Samar Scandal

The Supreme Court (SC) has ruled that former three-termer Samar Gov.
Milagrosa Tee Tan is a natural-born Filipino citizen and qualified to
sit as a representative of the Second District of Samar province at
the House of Representatives.

In an en banc ruling, the SC dismissed a petition filed by one
Wilfredo Estorninos questioning Tan's citizenship and assailing a
House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) decision in favor
of the lawmaker.

The SC said that HRET did not err when it declared that Tan is a
natural-born Filipino citizen.

"After a careful examination of the records, the court resolves to
dismiss the petition for failure to show that the HRET committed grave
abuse of discretion amounting to lack or in excess of jurisdiction in
finding that the respondent is a natural-born citizen, and therefore,
qualified to sit as a member of the House of Representatives," the SC
ruling signed by Clerk of Court Atty. Enriqueta Vidal said.

The SC said that HRET "correctly applied the doctrine in the case of
Co v. Electoral Tribunal of the House of Representatives, where the
court held that it was unnecessary for respondent Jose Ong, Jr. to
formally or in writing elect Philippine citizenship when he came of
age because he was already a Filipino citizen, his mother being a
natural-born citizen and his father having been naturalized when Jose,
Jr. was still a minor."

Similarly, the SC said, it was no longer necessary for Tan to execute
a sworn statement choosing Philippine citizenship upon reaching the
age of majority as required by Commonwealth Act No. 625.

It will be recalled that the Commission on Elections (Comelec)
declared Tan disqualified to run due to a question on her citizenship
in 2010 arising from two separate petitions for disqualification filed
before the Comelec by Carlo Gabon and Oscar Garcia.

The two petitioners alleged that Tan is a naturalized, not
natural-born Filipino citizen.

"No person shall be a Member of the House of Representatives unless he
is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines," Article VI, Section 6
of the 1987 Constitution says.

However, a separate HRET ruling said that Tan does possess the legal
qualifications to run for a seat in Congress.

Records showed that Tan's mother was a natural-born Filipino citizen
and her father was a Chinese national.

Tan, who now lives in Catbalogan City, the hometown of her late
husband Ric, was born in Palompon, Leyte.

Tan was suspended for 90 days in April 2008 arising from graft charges
filed against her for the alleged mishandling of government's calamity

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