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Wednesday, 09 September 2015 12:56

By: Edcel C. Lagman


12:45 AM September 8th, 2015


THE STATUS of being a natural-born citizen attaches at birth by virtue of parentage. Verily, it is an attribute by accident of birth. It does not require the performance of a personal act or an exercise of will, except for those “born before January 17, 1973, of Filipino mothers, who elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority,” a situation which has long lapsed.


Section 2 of Article IV of the 1987 Constitution provides: “Natural-born citizens are those who are citizens of the Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their Philippine citizenship. Those who elect Philippine citizenship in accordance with paragraph (3), Section 1 hereof shall be deemed natural-born citizens.”


The import of being natural-born is not the thesis of this commentary. It is only used as a basis for contrast with losing citizenship by foreign naturalization.


Renunciation of citizenship as a condition for becoming a citizen of another country is a categorical and willful act, unlike the automatic vesting of a natural-born status.

Thus, when Grace Poe swore allegiance to the United States of America on Oct. 18, 2001, and became an American citizen, she deliberately severed loyalty to the Republic of the Philippines.


This is the full text of the oath she took:

“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance

under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”

Such act of absolute abandonment and repudiation of loyalty and allegiance to her native country is indelible. Loyalty cannot be discarded and retrieved like apparel in one’s wardrobe. Severance of loyalty is almost irredeemable. No legal fiction can restore fractured loyalty to its original whole.


Loyalty must never be trivialized. It must endure the most compelling vicissitudes. But once loyalty is forfeited for reasons not insuperable, its retrieval is peripheral, its restoration incomplete.


In the Japanese Bushido, loyalty is the most important and often emphasized virtue, ahead of righteousness, courage, benevolence, respect, sincerity and honor.

Josiah Royce, in his “The Philosophy of Loyalty,” maintains that loyalty is “the heart of all the virtues, the central duty amongst all the duties.”


Utmost premium is accorded to loyalty. On the other hand, appropriate sanctions are imposed on acts of disloyalty: Traitors now suffer life imprisonment while previously, capital punishment was imposed on them; philandering husbands and adulterous wives are penalized; disloyal members are expelled; deserters are condemned; and there was a time turncoatism was proscribed, and the revival of this sanction may be warranted to stop partisan adventurism.


Although loyalty to the republic is not one of the enumerated minimum legal qualifications for the position of president, it permeates and is ascendant to all qualifications. It is said that loyalty is “an essential ingredient in any civilized and humane system of morals.”


Although prior citizenship may be reacquired, repatriation is invariably dictated by convenience, not motivated by conviction.


Any subsequent repatriation cannot obliterate the prior act of renunciation, but only erases the effects of such renunciation as when Grace Poe on July 7, 2006, reassumed her status as a Filipino citizen by repatriation, although it was only on Oct. 20, 2010, more than four years later, when she executed an affidavit renouncing her allegiance to the United States of America and forfeiting her American citizenship to pave the way the following day,


Oct. 21, 2010, for her oath-taking as chair of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board.


The fact that as an adult, Grace Poe, at 33 years of age, abdicated fidelity to the Philippines and disavowed loyalty to the republic, does not make her deserving of the presidency. No one in Philippine history has vied for the presidency who was previously an alien, a citizen of a foreign country by naturalization.


While by no means did she commit treason as an enemy of the state when she abandoned Philippine citizenship, it would be difficult, if not foolhardy, for Filipinos to reward her and entrust to her the premier position that the nation can bestow.

It is a prerequisite in juridical proceedings that a litigant must come to court with clean hands. With more reason, in running for the presidency, a candidate must seek the people’s mandate with unsullied loyalty to the republic.


If ever Grace Poe is elected president, is there any assurance that she will honor her solemn oath of office given her shifting loyalties and ephemeral patriotism?

Are Filipinos ready and willing to suffer this alarming contingency? Or should Grace Poe give herself more time to prove fealty to her restored loyalty and manifest more clearly her untested potentials?

Edcel C. Lagman is a former representative of the first district of Albay.

Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/88337/shattered-loyalty#ixzz3lDKYNW00
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Complete the emancipation of landless tillers Print
In the News
Friday, 20 March 2015 09:07

Edcel C. Lagman


Philippine Daily Inquirer


12:03 AM | Friday, March 20th, 2015

Land is a common denominator of man, the birthplace of both the filthy rich and the wretched poor. Land is also the great divide of humankind, the landlord’s haven and the tiller’s bondage. As man’s common resting place, land equalizes princes and paupers, the powerful and feeble, the famous and anonymous.

The insatiable quest for land underlies the history of wars and armed conflicts from prehistoric warriors to present-day combatants. Domestic land disputes mark litigations and jurisprudence. The curse of the landed gentry is the acrimonious quarrels among heirs and kin over a decedent’s landholdings.

Volumes of legal treatises have been written, numerous statutes enacted, and countless judicial decisions rendered on land disputes, titles, acquisition, ownership and possession.

Even as I write, there are two controversial bills on agrarian reform pending in the House of Representatives. House Bill No. 4296 proposes another extension up to June 30, 2016, of the Land Acquisition and Distribution (LAD) component of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL), by authorizing the Department of Agrarian Reform to continue issuing notices of coverage and accepting voluntary offers to sell from landowners. The other is HB 4375 creating the Agrarian Reform Commission to independently investigate violations of the CARL and the Carper (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms under Republic Act No. 9700).

The Constitution has elevated agrarian reform to a state policy. It provides that the state “shall, by law, undertake an agrarian reform program founded on the right of farmers and regular farmworkers who are landless, to own directly or collectively the lands they till or, in the case of other farmworkers, to receive a just share of the fruits thereof.”

President Cory Aquino made agrarian reform her centerpiece program. Landlord-legislators in the 8th Congress tried to transform the centerpiece into a centerfold by stripping off the salient provisions of HB 400, the original bill instituting a Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), with denuding amendments. The worst example is the “stock distribution option” (SDO) in lieu of land distribution, which made landless tillers stockholders of Hacienda Luisita Inc. What the beneficiaries would own under the scheme were not parcels of land as mandated by the Constitution but scraps of paper issued by the corporation dominated by sugar barons.

Despite the improvident approval of this “killer amendment,” the CARL is still a milestone social justice legislation to emancipate landless tillers from bondage and give them adequate support services and impartial agrarian justice.

Much belatedly, the Supreme Court in HLI vs Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (2011) struck down the SDO as neither a viable nor legal mode of land distribution. It confirmed that the only two modes are compulsory land acquisition and voluntary offer to sell under the Carper. This ended the then 23-year aberration which sanctioned “stock to the tiller” and negated “land to the tiller” in gross violation of the Constitution.

Agrarian laws impose timelines in the acquisition and distribution of agricultural lands, not to put an end to a continuing program but to compel implementers to expedite the process of land coverage for transfer to qualified beneficiaries, and to wield political will.

Since the deadlines expired without the DAR completing the LAD, two extensions had been previously made: by RA 8532 that extended CARP funding when it expired in 1998, 10 years after the CARL’s effectivity, and the Carper when the first extension expired in 2008. Another extension as proposed in

HB 4296 is necessary because after the expiration on June 30, 2014, of the second extension, the DAR admitted that 694,784 hectares covering 73,283 landholdings with 373,717 agrarian reform beneficiaries remain for acquisition and distribution as of Dec. 31, 2014. Of these, 158,698 hectares consisting of 13,342 landholdings are located in Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, Negros Occidental I and Negros Occidental II, some of the dominant areas of resistance to the CARP.

Empirical studies by UP Los Baños, Asia Pacific Policy Center, Philippine Review of Economics, German Cooperation Study, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, former Neda director general Cielito Habito, and incumbent Neda Secretary Arsenio Balisacan have validated that agrarian reform beneficiaries, compared to nonbeneficiaries, have increased productivity, better incomes, enhanced self-reliance, improved standard of living and reduced rural poverty. Verily, without the imperative extension, thousands of expectant beneficiaries would be denied the same opportunity for a better life.

There is no overriding reason for some blocs of lawmakers to oppose the extension of the LAD because this is only ancillary to a binding legislative determination in 1988 for the enforcement of a nationwide agrarian reform program under the CARL, which was amended by Carper to cover all agricultural lands regardless of tenurial arrangement and produce. The inclusion in the CARP of the resisting landowners’ estates was a fait accompli 27 years ago.

The hacienda owners in Negros and Panay cannot continue resisting coverage simply because the timetable has lapsed, which deadline is extendable by congressional action. Congress has extended the LAD twice before and a third extension to complete the program is logical, reasonable and constitutional. The DAR’s lack of zeal and the landlords’ contrived opposition must not prejudice beneficiaries.

Land acquisition is not confiscatory. Just compensation is paid to the landowners who can then liberate locked-in capital in land for industrialization. Relevantly, the CARL is titled “An Act Instituting a [CARP] to Promote Social Justice and Industrialization.”

As long as agricultural lands exist for proper coverage, land acquisition and distribution must continue unhindered to accord fullest fealty to the constitutional mandate of distributing land to landless tillers.

Edcel C. Lagman is a former representative of the first district of Albay.

Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/83451/complete-the-emancipation-of-landless-tillers#ixzz3UsqRY2Pi
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"Desaparecido" Print
In the News
Saturday, 07 March 2015 12:17

Edcel C. Lagman


Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:39 AM | Saturday, March 7th, 2015

For the first time in Philippine cinema, three short films about victims of enforced disappearance were produced by the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND), Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (Afad) and Dakila-Collective for Modern Heroism under the CHR-Aecid Fortaleza Project. “Walang Paalam” (No Goodbye) was premiered at the UP Film Center on Feb. 26, a day after the 29th anniversary of the 1986 Edsa People Power uprising that toppled the Marcos dictatorship.

The four-day protest by multitudes rejecting the Marcos regime was not that spontaneous as it was in fact the culmination of long years of pocket resistance to martial rule in the countryside and urban centers as well as the picket lines of indignant and courageous strikers. It was sanctified and ennobled by the blood and tears of common folk who sacrificed life and liberty to pave the way for Filipinos to regain democracy at Edsa.

“Walang Paalam” features the three kinds of desaparecido: forcibly disappeared but surfaced alive (“Porferia”); disappeared and found dead (“Celio”); and continuing disappearance (“Hermon”).

“Porferia” narrates the story of Porferia Acuram, a church-based volunteer worker then on her third trimester of pregnancy, and her husband who were apprehended on July 19, 1989, in Misamis Occidental by the military on suspicion of collaborating with the New People’s Army. They were detained incommunicado, tortured and ordered to dig their common grave. The spouses maintained their innocence despite the brutality of their captors. They were rescued through the help of the community and the intercession of a local lawyer.

“Celio” is principally based on the mass abduction, torture and killing of farmers suspected as rebels in the 1980s in Zamboanga del Sur. It is a gripping story of a father whose son, a fresh high school graduate, was abducted by military elements together with numerous farmers of Tigbao and buried in unknown graves. In April 2001 Mang Celio reportedly helped FIND dig and identify the remains ofhis son, which were exhumed together with those of 11 other victims.

“Hermon” tells of the tragic struggle of young lawyer Hermon C. Lagman, whose militant advocacy helped workers demand their rights not only through legal processes but more importantly by mass action. He banded with the workers and together they fought for justice and the emancipation of the working class. In open defiance of the martial law strike ban, he spearheaded the strikes in La Tondeña Inc., Mead Johnson-Bristol Group of Companies, Atlantic Gulf and Pacific Co., and Solid Mills in 1975 and 1976.

For his resolute crusade to promote and protect workers’ rights, Lagman was taken by state agents on May 11, 1977, on Edsa. He remains missing after 38 years, six years more than his age of 32 at the time of his disappearance. “Hermon” also highlights the continuing torment of families, particularly the victim’s mother who endlessly grieves for her missing son and in her old age imagines that he would still reappear.

Enforced disappearances escalated to 882 documented incidents during martial law and did not taper off during the Cory Aquino presidency, which had 825 recorded cases. There were 94 cases during the Ramos administration; 58, Estrada; 340, Arroyo; and 25, the incumbent.

Verily, repression of dissent is endemic to all regimes. The state’s violation of liberty, freedom of association and free expression by enforced disappearance is both global and rooted in antiquity.

Persia had the “eyes and ears of the King” (Gli occhi e le orecchie del re), Spartans employed a secret police known as “Krypteia,” while the Roman Empire under Nero had the Praetorian Guards.

The Spanish term desaparecido, meaning “disappeared people,” refers to victims of state terrorism in Latin America during the 1970s and 1980s. In the infamous “death flights” in Chile and Argentina, particularly during Operation Condor by the military juntas, the victims’ bodies were jettisoned from airplanes into the sea.

To end the impunity unabashedly enjoyed by perpetrators, Republic Act No. 10353 was enacted on Dec. 21, 2012, to penalize enforced disappearance as a separate offense distinct from kidnapping, arbitrary detention, murder and other common crimes. It lists three elements of the crime: 1) any form of deprivation of liberty of the victim by agents of the state or their privies; 2) refusal to admit the deprivation of liberty or concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the victim; and 3) placing the victim outside the protection of the law. RA 10353, which also facilitates the identification and prosecution of offenders, is the first in Asia and has been hailed as a model legislation.

A companion law, which also originated from the House of Representatives, is RA 10368 providing for reparation and recognition of victims of human rights violations during the Marcos regime. Highest priority for compensation is given to victims of enforced disappearance, which is acknowledged as the worst kind of human rights violation.

The vast majority of the victims of enforced disappearance are farmers and workers. This is symptomatic of the correlation between economic inequity and the perpetration of involuntary disappearance. Mass poverty impels marginalized, oppressed, but politicized farmers and workers to voice their grievances against government, and even to rebel. Under the guise of a counterinsurgency campaign, the military and police resort to abduction, torture and extrajudicial killing to quell dissent and quiet discontent.

But the right to dissent is ascendant to the fear of repression. And so the tug-of-war continues. This will only end with the economic deliverance of the masses from the clutches of poverty and the fringes of despair.

Edcel C. Lagman is a former representative of the first district of Albay.

Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/83129/desaparecido#ixzz3TfaExBV7
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