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Comelec division disqualifies LP's congressional bet in Marinduque

The Commission on Elections' (Comelec) First Division has ruled that Marinduque congressional candidate Regina Reyes was ineligible to run in the May 13 polls for being an American citizen and for her failure to meet the one-year residency requirement for candidates. In a text message to GMA News Online Wednesday, Commissioner Lucenito Tagle, who heads the First Division, said Reyes can still file a motion for reconsideration five days upon receipt of the decision before the en banc, which will hear the case for the final time. Reyes, a Liberal Party candidate, is the daughter of Marinduque Governor Carmencita Reyes and sister of Toll Regulatory Board Executive Director Edmundo Reyes, Jr. The petition was filed by Joseph Socorro Tan, a resident of Torrijos, Marinduque, who said Reyes made several false representations in her certificate of candidacy (COC). In a 12-page decision dated March 27, the first division cancelled  Reyes' COC because she was a holder of an American passport, which she used from October 14, 2005 to June 30, 2012. A candidate for a congressional post must be a natural-born Filipino citizen. Reyes, who became a naturalized US citizen, has failed to reacquire her Filipino citizenship by taking the oath of allegiance to the Philippines and making a personal and sworn renunciation of her American citizenship. "There is no showing that respondent complied with the aforesaid requirements," the decision stated. Reyes initially denied that she has become either a permanent resident or naturalized US citizen, but when the petitioner presented evidence, the former failed to "present substantial evidence to prove otherwise." “Unless and until she can establish that she had availed of the privileges of RA 9225 (Dual Citizenship Law) by becoming a dual Filipino-American citizen, and thereafter, made a valid sworn renunciation of her American citizenship, she remains to be an American citizen and is, therefore, ineligible to run for and hold any elective public office in the Philippines,” the Comelec division ruled. The Comelec division also said Reyes failed to regain her domicile of origin in Boac, Marinduque, which she lost when she became a naturalized US citizen. "In this case, there is no showing whatsoever that respondent had already reacquired her Filipino citizenship so as to conclude that she has regained her domicile in the Philippines. There being no proof that respondent had renounced her American citizenship, it follows that she has not abandoned her domicile of choice in the USA," the decision stated. It further said that the only proof presented by Reyes that she has met the one-year residence requirement was her claim that she served as administrator of the province from January 18, 2011 to July 13, 2011. "No amount of her stay in the said locality can substitute the fact that she has not abandoned her domicile of choice in the USA," it stated. It added: "The requirement of Philippine citizenship is indispensable for a person seeking for an elective public office. It is a requisite which should be dealt with more scrutiny, if only to ensure that no person owing allegiance to other nation is actually permitted to govern our people.” — Amita O. Legaspi/KBK, GMA News