MANILA, Philippines – Presidential bet Grace Poe’s husband – Teodoro Misael Daniel Vera Llamanzares – was an enlisted man in the US Air Force from 1988 to 1992.
Poe herself admitted this little known fact on Thursday, April 7, after she was asked by reporters in Catarman, Northern Samar, to react to an online report.
This is Poe’s first mention of her husband’s US military stint since she declared her plans to run for president and throughout the past months that her citizenship was questioned before various bodies.
It’s a non-issue, she said.
“Hindi Army, (US) Air Force at hindi rin naman ‘yan itinatago. Hindi ko alam ba’t issue ‘yan. Unang-una, ang asawa ko ay natural born,” Poe said in a chance interview.
(Not Army. He was a (US) Air Force and we are not hiding that. I don’t know why it is an issue. First of all, my husband is a natural born Filipino.)
She did not give details on Llamanzares’ service in the US Air Force.
Rappler’s online check of US military personnel data showed that Llamanzares is listed as a “veteran” from the state of Virginia with a pay grade of E-4.
The US Department of Veteran Affairs says those with E-4 status in the US Air Force have the rank of Senior Airman or Sergeant.
It was in 2013 when the couple mentioned in an interview that they lived inside an air base in Washington, DC, for a year after getting married in 1991.
“She actually lived in the base with me. We were in the base housing for about a year, then I didn’t re-enlist. So our son Brian was born in the US Air Force base,” Llamanzares told Pep.
Poe’s husband is a dual citizen of the Philippines and the United States since birth. Poe earlier vowed that her husband would renounce his foreign citizenship and assured the public there would be no “American boy” in Malacañang.
But the presidential bet has so far failed to give detailed answers when asked for updates on her husband’s renunciation of his American citizenship. (READ: Grace Poe: My husband’s US citizenship is ‘not an issue’)
Poe maintained there’s nothing wrong with Llamanzares’ service in the US military. (READ: TIMELINE: Grace Poe’s citizenship, residency)
She cited the cases of former president Fidel Ramos, former Parañaque representative Roilo Golez, and transportation chief Joseph Emilio Abaya, who all went to US military schools.
The 3 ex-military men, however, did not serve in the US military after finishing their military courses in West Point in the case of Ramos, and Annapolis in the case of Golez and Abaya.
“Ang aking asawa ay Pilipino. Ang mismong naging pangulo ng bansa ay nag-aral din doon, bagama’t hindi naging service person doon. Si FVR naging epektibong presidente na nagbigay ng development at nagpalakas din ng ating ekonomiya,” she said.
(My husband is a Filipino. A former president of our country even studied there, although he did not become a service person there. FVR was an effective president who ushered in development and economic growth.)
‘What happened to transparency?’
Asked to comment, political analyst Clarita Carlos said that while Poe did not technically lie, she noted that the presidential candidate apparently kept the information from the public.
“Bakit ngayon mo lang sinabi sa amin dahil nakalkal na? Marami na ngang issue about your citizenship. Tapos sasabihin mong non-issue (when) it’s an issue, nag-oath of allegiance nga,” Carlos said in a phone interview.
(Why did you just tell it to us now, because it was already unearthed? There are already many issues against your citizenship. Now, you’re saying it’s a non-issue when it’s an issue. He took an oath of allegiance.)
“Turn off. Why only now? You keep on talking about transparency. This leaves a bad taste in the mouth but then again I’m just 1 out of 54 million Filipinos,” Carlos said.
Carlos also questioned why Poe’s husband has yet to renounce his foreign citizenship, saying it would be “bad” for a First Gentleman to be a citizen of two countries – in the event the senator, a front runner in public opinion polls, wins the presidency.
“They can’t have their cake and eat it, too,” the analyst said.
‘Critical issue but not scandalous’
Political analyst Aries Arugay from the University of the Philippines, for his part, said the issue at hand is “critical” but not “scandalous.”
It’s serious, he said, because Poe revealed it only now. But, for him, it’s not entirely new, as Filipinos already know that Llamanzares is a US citizen.
“Sin of omission, yes, but the mere fact na inamin na…(she admitted it). So I don’t think there’s a scandal out of it,” Arugay told Rappler.
He also said Llamanzares’ stint in the US military should not be an issue considering the “good relations” of the US and the Philippines. – Rappler.com