Monday, 21 January 2013

LATEST: Comelec favors Aga Muhlach on citizenship issue


ACTOR AGA Muhlach on Monday said nothing could keep him from running for a congressional seat after the Commission on Elections (Comelec) junked a petition seeking his disqualification from the May 13 elections for supposedly dropping his Filipino citizenship.

Muhlach appeared at the Comelec in Intramuros, Manila, on Monday to receive a copy of the favorable decision rendered by the commission’s First Division.

“I am the happiest because there’s nothing that could prevent me from running now,” Muhlach, accompanied by his lawyer, Romulo Macalintal, told reporters in an interview.

Muhlach, a member of the ruling Liberal Party, is running against one of the Fuentabellas, an influential political clan in the fourth district of CamSur.

Muhlach and wife, Charlene Gonzales, filed their applications for registration as voters of San Jose on March 19 last year, which the Election Registration Board (ERB) subsequently approved.

Last week, the Court of Appeals issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) stopping the Camarines Sur Regional Trial Court from implementing its December ruling that directed the ERB to remove the couple from San Jose’s list of voters on the ground that they were not local residents. The TRO is good for 60 days.

In the Comelec decision, it unanimously ruled that the actor was a natural-born Filipino citizen and, therefore, may enjoy full civil and political rights, including the right to seek public office.

The disqualification case stemmed from a complaint filed by Gilmar Pacamarra, a voter from CamSur, who alleged that Muhlach made “false material representations” when he indicated in his certificate of candidacy that he was a Filipino citizen when he had supposedly acquired Spanish citizenship.

In his reply, Muhlach said he never took an oath of allegiance to the Spanish government nor did he ever apply for naturalization as a Spanish citizen. 

Muhlach’s father is reportedly a Spanish citizen.

The Comelec’s First Division, composed of Commissioners Rene Sarmiento, Christian Robert Lim and Armando Velasco, upheld the actor, ruling that the petitioner failed to show evidence that Muhlach had “expressly renounced” his Philippine citizenship or has subscribed an oath of allegiance to another country.

“It does not see how any of the petitioner’s allegations prove that Muhlach voluntarily or without reservation abandoned his Philippine citizenship. 

"There is nothing in the submissions of Pacamara that show an express renunciation of Philippine citizenship on the part of Muhlach,” stated the decision.

Muhlach welcomed the Comelec decision, hoping that his rivals would stop trying to prevent him from running.

“What I am asking my rivals is to stop preventing something good from happening in our district. I have good intentions for our people. I want to help make their lives better. But then again, that’s politics and I am ready for what will happen next,” he said. - Inquirer

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