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FPJ was natural-born, yes. In fact, he was American born

(Article published in the Aug 20,2004 issue of TODAY, Business Section)

Today, Friday, the 20th  of August, is the birthday of Mr. Ronald Allan Poe, son of Allan F. Poe and Bessie Kelly.  My happy birthday greetings to Mr. FPJ on his 65th birthday anniversary. We owe a lot to Mr. FPJ.  Without him doing the unique act of entering politics for the first time by running for the highest post in the land, we would have had a boring summer that main featured the elections last May.

It is not for me to say whether FPJ won or lost the 2004 presidential elections.  That is for the Presidential Electoral Tribunal to declare, in its own good time.  I also hesitate to comment on whether the Supreme Court had already ruled, in the case of Fornier v. COMELEC, et al, G.R.  No. 1612824, promulgated on 03 March 2004, that FPJ was indeed a natural-born Filipino. Some say “yes”, by implication, because he was allowed to run for president who, according tot he Constitution, must be a natural-born Filipino; others say “no”, by express admission of uncertainty, because what the Supreme court said was that “the totality of the evidence may not establish conclusively that respondent FPJ is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, the evidence on hand still would preponderate in his favor enough to hold that he cannot be held guilty of having made a material misrepresentation in his certificate of candidacy in violation of Section 78, in relation to Section 74, of the Omnibus Election  Code”. Hence, the Supreme Court admitted that the evidence was persuasive only as to the lack of material misrepresentation but not on the fact of being natural born.

At any rate, it is not important to me what the Supreme Court had in fact decided in Fornier.  I was, long before the Supreme Court rendered its decision, already convinced that FPJ was “natural-born” for the simple reason that when the man on the street is asked whether FPJ was born, the response is the Filipino use of the Spanish natural, roughly translated as “of course”.  (See Trust and Estates, in the 19 January 2004 issue of TODAY).

What is significant, in my view, is that FPJ’s running for president made an impact on local politics.  On the occasion of his 65th birthday, it is my fervent wish that FPJ extended his influence from just the local to the global scene.  He has the

Qualifications to do and I strongly advise that FPJ order his lawyers to seriously look into the suggestion made to him by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago  to run for president in another country.  To be more specific than the good senator, I recommend the United States of America, I am certain that FPJ will easily give re-electionist candidate George W. Bush a run for his money.

For instance, to the questions of how he would revitalize the American people, presently mired in the paranoia caused by 9/11, he could repeat what he said when asked how he was going to revive the Philippine economy: "We are going to address that, Mahaba 'yan, because it is a chain reaction.  The economy to bring back people's trust in government.  They seem to forget that in a person, then the relationship is finished.  It's like swimming, If there is a lifeguard and you trust him, you go swimming.  If there is no lifeguard, then you don't fee confident swimming." If by so responding, the Americans are not regaled by his coherence,  FPJ could then proceed, as he did in the same interview:" "It reminds me of my nephew.  He has so much faith in me.  He's a small boy.  And thinks I am a Superman.  He believes he will be protected.  I cannot fail him."

Isn't that take on the economy more superior to Mr. Bush's insistence on terrorism that led him to say to his countrymen, as quoted in the 16 August 2004 issue of Time, that the enemies of America "never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we".

But does FPJ have the legal qualifications for a president of the US of A.  As a gift of FPJ, I will prove one the existence of one, pro bono.  His lawyers should come up with the rest.  My thesis: FPJ was American at birth.

Perhaps providentially for FPJ, the American constitution, from which many provisions of the Philippine constitution was copied, requires the president to be a natural-born citizen of the United States of America.  Article II, Section 1, clause 5 of the US Constitution says that "No person except a natural born citizen or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President."

Research indicates that, although the Supreme Court of the Philippine, notwithstanding the brillance of the lawyers of the parties as well as the learning of the four amici curiae, was constrained to say that the evidence does "not establish conclusively that respondent FPJ is a natural-born citizen of the Philippine", it was nevertheless able to recognize a fact, a single fact, which by itself is sufficient to support the conclusion, in American law, that FPJ was, on the other hand, a natural-born citizen of the United States of America.

According to the well-written ponencia of Fornier v. COMELEC, a decision that has vintage-Vitug scholarship, “the only conclusions that could be drawn with some degree of certainty from the documents” that were presented to the COMELECT were that (1) the parents of FPJ were Allan F. Poe and Bessie Kelly; (2) that FPJ was born to them on 20 August 1939; (3) that Allan F. Poe and Bessie Kelly were married to each other on 16 September 1940; (4) that the father of Allan F. Poe was Lorenzo Poe; and (5) that at the time of his death on 11 September 1954, Lorenzo Poe was 84 year old.

Of the five facts, the most significant for my purposes is the common allegation, made or admitted by both petitioner and respondent, that the mother of FPJ was Bessie Kelly who was an American.  That Bessie Kelly was American is established by the birth certificate of FPJ, which was submitted by the petitioner as Exhibit “A” and Exhibit “3” by the respondent.  Surely, no greater proof of the facts can be had than the admission of both parties.

To this fact of Bessie Kelly’s being an American when she gave birth to FPJ can then be applied the US law which is cited as Rev Stat § 1993, as amended by the Act of May 24, 1934, 1, 48 Stat § 797.  It reads, in part:

“Any child hereafter born out of the limits and jurisdiction of the Untied States, whose father or mother or both at the time of the birth of such child is a citizen of the United States, is declared to be a citizen of the United States;…”

This, according to the US case of William P. Rogers, Secretary of State v. Aldo Mario Bellei (401 US 815, 28 L Ed 2d 499, 91 S Ct 1060), the majority opinion of which was penned by Supreme Court Justice Blackmum in 1971, was the form of the statute as of 22 December 1939.  Since FPJ was born on 20 August 1939, and no intervening amendment occurred form 1934 to 1939, it is clear that under American law prevailing at the time of his birth, FPJ was  “a citizen of the United States.”

I am sure that the American people would most welcome FPJ’s seeking to be their president.  If not this year (the period for independent nominations, I understand, had expired last month), then after four years. In fact, there is a bi-partisan move in the United States right now to assert the right of Americans born outside the US of A to run for president.  On 25 February 2004, Oklahoma Senator Don Nickles filed for himself and Senators Mary Landrieu, a democrat from Louisiana, and Jim Inhofe, a republican from Oklahoma, a bill to define “natural born Citizen” in the constitution as precisely to including, among others, “any person born outside the United States for a U.S. citizen parent or parents who are eligible to transmit citizenship.”

The bill is intended to grant the opportunity to FPJ and others like him to become president of the US of A. “These children”, say the sponsors, “ought to have the same right to grow up in America, work hard, and have the opportunity to become the President of the United States, if they so chose.  That’s part of the American dream…..”

        As you turn 65, FPJ, please do not forget that you are entitled to dream the American dream.  And please tell Senator Ed Angara and the others who enticed you to run for election to spare the rest of us the nightmare of your claiming to entitle to be the President of the Republic of the Philippines.