Why Grace Poe renounced her Filipino citizenship

Camille Elemia

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Why Grace Poe renounced her Filipino citizenship

Alecs Ongcal

Senator Grace Poe says acquiring US citizenship was a decision made out of 'love' for family, but didn't mean she loved her country, the Philippines, less

MANILA, Philippines – Amid unrelenting criticisms on her citizenship, both as a foundling and as a former American citizen, Senator Grace Poe explained on Wednesday, September 30, her choice to renounce her Philippine citizenship.

It was because of “love,” she said.

In 1991 Poe married Neil Llamanzares, a dual citizen of the United States and the Philippines since birth. In 2001, she became a naturalized US citizen. (READ: TIMELINE: Grace Poe’s citizenship, residency)

Asked why she chose to be a full-fledged US citizen instead of a green card holder or permanent resident, she said that, as a mother and wife, her duty was to support her family.

She didn’t renounce her Philippine citizenship because she “lacked” love for the country, she said, because she had maintained ties with her family in Manila and raised her kids with the same Filipino values she has.

Unlike a US citizen, a green card holder may only work and reside in the US but not participate in elections.

“Alam ‘nyo po nung kami nag-umpisa magasawa, talaga naman sa pag-ibig ‘yun… Kasama ko ang aking pamilya, ang aking asawa, nanirahan kami do’n. Totoo naman po, akala ko, bilang isang nanay talagang suporta sa aking pamilya, sa asawa, namalagi kami doon, hindi naman ‘yun nagkulang ako ng pagmamahal sa bansa,” Poe told reporters after the 3rd Makabayan Convention on Wednesday.

(You know, when my husband and I started, that’s really love. I was with my family, my husband, we lived there. It’s true, I thought…as a mother, [it’s really to] support my family and my husband that we stayed there. It’s not like I lacked love for the country.)

Poe was quick to point out, however, that she came back to the Philippines in 2005 after her father, actor and former presidential candidate Fernando Poe Jr, died, leaving her mother actress Susan Roces alone.

‘Not just on paper’ 

In an apparent swipe at her critics, Poe said citizenship is more than what is indicated on “paper,” reiterating she retained her Filipino values.

“Simpe lang naman po. Di lang naman sa papel o sa bansag ang pagiging Pilipino. Ito ay pamumuhay nang marangal, ‘yung ating mga values, at isa pa ‘yung tapat na paninilbihan,” Poe said.

(It’s just simple, being a Filipino is more than what’s on paper and name. It’s living an honorable life, our values, and another thing, honest service.)

The presidential polls front runner said political parties, such as the Makabayan bloc, would not have supported her if they think she is “not a good Filipino.”

Poe, who is facing the risk of being disqualified from the 2016 presidential elections, maintained she did not turn her back on the Filipino public. 

“Pero ang mas malaking hamon at pribilehiyo na manilbihan sa bansa ay di ko tinalikuran sapagkat ito’y pagkakataong makatulong sa marami,” Poe said.

(But the bigger challenge and privilege to serve the country, I did not turn my back on that, because it’s an opportunity to help many people.) – Rappler.com

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a former multimedia reporter for Rappler. She covered media and disinformation, the Senate, the Office of the President, and politics.