LANAO DEL NORTE, Philippines – Despite a Supreme Court order ousting him over a citizenship issue, former Kauswagan Mayor Rommel Arnado has refused to leave the town hall.
Arnado has barricaded the entrance to the building with ambulances and a big truck. Police vehicles have also been stationed in the vicinity of the town hall.
Concerned citizens are worried that this situation could escalate, with elections just days away.
The Supreme Court on April 16, 2013 unseated Arnado after it found that he did not effectively give up his dual citizenship.
Philippine laws require those running for public office to be Filipino citizens. Section 39 of the Local Government Code specifies that “an elective local official must be a citizen of the Philippines.”
On July 10, 2008, Arnado took his oath as a Philippine citizen, taking advantage of dual citizenship laws. He renounced his American citizenship on April 3, 2009 and took another oath as a Philippine citizen.
But he traveled to the US on April 14 of the same year using his American passport. He returned to the Philippines on Nov 24, 2009 still using his US passport and then filed his certificate of candidacy 6 days later on Nov 30, 2009.
Arnado's chief political opponent, Casan Maquiling, filed a disqualification case against Arnado before the Commission on Elections. The Comelec subsequently ruled on Feb 2, 2011 that using a US passport does not automatically revert the US citizenship of the person. Maquiling however appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court.
In a decision penned by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, the Supreme Court ruled on April 16, 2013 that “by representing himself as an American citizen, Arnado voluntarily and effectively reverted to his earlier status as a dual citizen. Such reversion was not retroactive; it took place the instant Arnado represented himself as an American citizen by using his US passport.”
The SC subsequently nullified his candidacy and installed Maquiling as the winning candidate in the 2010 elections. Maquiling, the High Court said, is considered the winner in the election “as he obtained the highest number of votes from among the qualified candidates.” - with a report by Giano Libot and Zak Yuson/Rappler.com
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