MANILA: The Commission on Elections (Comelec) First Division has ruled that actor-turned-politician Aga Muhlach is a natural-born Filipino citizen.
The division denied for lack of merit the petition filed by a certain Gilmar Pacamara, an alleged voter of San Jose, CamSur, questioning the citizenship of the veteran actor.
"The First Division does not see how any of petitioner allegations prove that Muhlach voluntarily or without reservation abandoned his Philippine citizenship," said the resolution penned by Commissioner Christian Robert Lim.
"There is nothing in the submissions of Pacamara which show express renunciation of Philippine citizenship on the part of Muhlach," it further said.
In his petition, Pacamara claimed that Muhlach is a Spanish citizen, who abandoned his Philippine citizenship when he was issued a Spanish passport.
The poll body, though, took the side of Muhlach, who said he never abandoned his Philippine citizenship.
"His recognition as a Spanish citizen was a unilateral act of the Spanish government pursuant to its own laws recognizing as citizens anyone with Spanish origin. Since the father of Muhlach was a recognized citizen of Spain by birth, then by operation of Spanish law Muhlach is also recognized by Spain as a Spanish citizen," explained Muhlach's election lawyer, Romulo Macalintal.
"The petitioner utterly failed to show any evidence that Muhlach has expressly renounced his Philippine citizenship or that he has subscribed to an oath of allegiance to support the constitution or laws of a foreign country. Thus, the Commission finds Muhlach a natural-born Filipino citizen," the Comelec resolved.
As to questions on him being a dual citizen, therefore making him unqualified to run for congressman for the fourth district of Camarines Sur, the poll body said the actor could be a "dual citizen" just by operation of Spanish law.
"Dual citizenship is just a reality imposed on us because we have no control of the laws on citizenship of other countries. It is of no moment and is not the concern of Philippine Courts, including the Commission, that Spain recognizes Muhlach as a citizen by virtue of its laws, or that he was eventually issued a Spanish Passport," said the commission.
Section 6 of the Constitution states 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 25 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 the election." - HDT/Sunnex