Grace Poe: My husband’s US citizenship is ‘not an issue’

Camille Elemia
Grace Poe: My husband’s US citizenship is ‘not an issue’
Asked on the status of her husband's renunciation, Senator Grace Poe only says her own process took months to finish

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential bet Senator Grace Poe on Wednesday, January 20, defended the American citizenship of her husband, Neil Llamanzares, saying it is not an issue.

Poe, who is facing the risk of disqualification over citizenship and residency issues, said her husband is a natural-born Filipino, who just happened to be born in the United States to Filipino parents studying there.

While the Philippines uses the principle of jus sanguinis (citizenship by blood) to define its citizenship, the US uses the jus soli (citizenship by place of birth) rule. This makes Llamanzares a dual citizen of both the US and the Philippines since birth, unlike Poe who became such in 2006 via Republic Act 9225 or the Citizenship Retention and Reacquisition Act.

“At saka isa pa ang asawa ko ay natural-born talaga ‘yon. Nagkataon lang ‘yung mga magulang niya nag-aaral du’n. Kaya nga hindi ko alam kung talagang nagiging isyu. Siyempre ‘yan ang hinahanapan nila ng dahilan, pero hindi naman talaga ‘yan isyu,” Poe told reporters in a press conference in Dasmariñas, Cavite on Wednesday, January 20.

(One more thing, my husband is really a natural-born (Filipino). It just so happens his parents were studying in the US when he was born. That’s why I do not know why this is becoming an issue. Of course, they are trying to find fault in this, but it is really not an issue.)

No definite answer

Asked by reporters for an update on the status of her husband’s renunciation of his US citizenship, Poe gave no definite answer and only said her own renunciation took months.

“Kung mapapansin niyo kasi yung sa akin ano, matagal na nga naproseso. Ilang buwan ang inabot kaya nga tinanong nila. Kaya lang I have to immediately do it in front of a public officer dahil nga I was assuming a post…. Kailangan mong ilagay yung mga assets and liabilities. Marami kang mga kailangan suriing mabuti,” she said.

(If you will notice, my renunciation (of US citizenship) was processed a long time ago. It took how many months that’s why they are questioning it. I had to do it immediately in front of a public officer because I was then assuming a post. You have to put there your assets and liabilities. You have a lot to scrutinize.)

In an interview in November, Poe revealed her husband is already in the process of renouncing his US citizenship to end all questions on his loyalty.

The presidential aspirant also assured the public that Filipinos would not have an “American boy in Malacañang.” 

“’Yan ang ginagawang issue sa ngayon at tanggap naman namin sapagkat isa itong political na konsiderasyon. Nag-usap na kami ng aking asawa. Bagama’t by birth s’ya naging [US] citizen, para mawala na lahat ng pagdududa, at ipakita ang kumpyansa sa aking administrasyon, s’ya po ay talaga namang magre-renounce,” Poe said on November 4.

(That’s one of the issues now because this is a political consideration. My husband and I already talked about this. Although he became a US citizen by birth, he will renounce it to erase all doubts and for him to show his confidence in my administration.)

As for her children, Poe earlier said she would give them the freedom to choose what they want to do with their lives. – Rappler.com

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com