On the campaign trail in 2016: Candidates
Alan Peter Cayetano (left) and Rodrigo Duterte give the audience their
campaign’s fisted salute.
he names of singer
Tina Turner, actor Jet Li and Philippine Senator Alan Peter Cayetano are
all included in a Wikipedia list of distinguished former United States
citizens who relinquished their nationality and whose relinquishment is
memorialized in the official “Federal Register” of distinguished former
US citizens (LINK).
The Wikipedia list
informs that Tina Turner, born in Nutbush, Tennessee, gave up her U.S.
citizenship in 2013, the year her Swiss citizenship was approved. Jet Li
relinquished his naturalized US citizenship in 2009 when he was granted
Cayetano is identified
in the List as a “politician” who was born in the Philippines in 1970 to
Philippine Senator Renato Cayetano and his American wife, Sandra
Schramm, a native of Michigan. According to the List, Cayetano
"renounced his U.S. citizenship to stand for election to the Philippine
House of Representatives in the 1998 elections, and to gain admission to
the Philippine Bar that same month.” His name appears on the Federal
Register in 1999 as the year he formally relinquished his US
As a child of a
Philippine citizen father and a US citizen mother, Alan Peter was born
as a citizen of both countries. The website of the Philippine embassies
throughout the world explains that dual citizenship is available to
persons "born before January 17, 1973 to a: 1. Filipino Father; or 2.
Filipino Mother and that person elects Philippine citizenship upon
reaching the age of majority.” This is the official position of the
Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs.
Did Sen. Cayetano
elect Philippine citizenship when he reached the age of majority?
According to the
official records obtained by former Pateros Mayor Jose Capco, Jr,
Cayetano’s parents obtained an Alien Certificate of Registration (ACR)
for him on March 18, 1976, asserting that he is an American citizen.
The official records
obtained by Capco also revealed that on January 23, 1985, Cayetano
personally applied for and was granted a new ACR, where Cayetano
affirmed his intention to be a citizen of the United States of America (LINK).
According to Capco,
when Cayetano campaigned for municipal councilor of Taguig in the 1992
elections, he produced an Identification Certificate, BC-1295, from the
Philippine Bureau of Immigration that he is a Philippine citizen. But
Capco said this identification certificate was apparently bogus and “has
never been affirmed by the secretary of justice” as required by the law.
Capco complained that
Cayetano’s subsequent election to the Philippine Senate violates the
Philippine Constitution as Section 3, Article VI of the Constitution
provides that “no person shall be a senator unless he is a natural-born
citizen of the Philippines.”
While it is unclear on
what legal grounds the Comelec denied Capco's challenge to Cayetano's
qualifications to run for public office, the fact remains that Cayetano
never challenged his inclusion in the 1999 U.S. Federal Register as
having only formally relinquished his US citizenship in 1998.
What this means is
that Cayetano was still a US citizen when he first ran and won as Taguig
councilor in 1992, as vice mayor in 1995, and as congressman in 1998
before he formally relinquished his US citizenship in 1999.
other former notable US citizen mentioned in the Wikipedia list is Grace
Poe Llamanzares, who was reported to have renounced her U.S. citizenship
prior to becoming chairwoman of the Movie and Television Review and
Classification Board in 2010. She was later elected to the Senate of the
Philippines in 2013.
But when Poe renounced
her US citizenship in 2010, the Philippine Dual Citizenship Act had
already been in effect since September 17, 2003 when President Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo signed it into law. The Act declared that "former
natural-born Filipinos who lost their Philippine citizenships when they
became naturalized citizens of other countries are deemed not to have
lost their citizenship under the conditions provided by the act".
But regaining their
Philippine citizenship is not automatic; the former Philippine citizens
have to formally apply to reacquire their citizenship as Sen. Grace Poe
did in 2005. Sen. Cayetano did not do so in 1999 as the law that would
have allowed him the right to do so had not yet been enacted.
formally gave up his US citizenship in 1998, what citizenship did he
acquire? Did he become stateless?
On March 11, 2017, the
Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs announced that it had put on
hold the application of former Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. for
renewal of his Philippine passport pending resolution of questions
surrounding his citizenship by "competent authorities."
Yasay was terminated
from his post as Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs when the
Commission on Appointments of the Philippine Congress voted 15-0 to
reject his confirmation because he had lied about his U.S. citizenship.
It was learned at the
hearing that Yasay formally swore an oath of allegiance to the U.S. in
November of 1986 when he became a naturalized US citizen. He then
officially renounced his American citizenship at the U.S. Embassy in
Manila on June 26, 2016 before he was officially appointed by Duterte as
Secretary of Foreign Affairs. Yasay had insisted that he was never a US
citizen because he had a "preconceived intent" of abandoning his US
residency when he became American, a highly disputable contention.
Since Yasay has never
formally applied to reacquire his Philippine citizenship, the issue of
his citizenship is now left for “competent authorities” to decide, the
The same rule should
also apply to Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano who has been all but formally
appointed by Pres. Duterte to serve as his next Secretary of Foreign
Affairs on May 10, 2017 when the one-year election ban on candidates
being appointed to executive positions expires.
It appears that
Duterte is set to appoint as his secretary of foreign affairs another
former U.S. citizen who may or may not be a Philippine citizen.
[Pres. Duterte just
announced that he will not appoint Cayetano to the DFA post now because
he "is more needed in the senate.]
The supreme irony here
is that Pres. Rodrigo Duterte announced his intention to finally run for
president on November 21, 2015 after the Philippine Senate Electoral
Tribunal (SET) voted 6-5 to allow Sen. Grace Poe to run for president.
Duterte said at the
time that Poe, being a foundling, is not a natural-born citizen and is
therefore not qualified to seek the highest post in the land.
The decision of the
tribunal, Duterte said, "cheapens the Constitution, the only thing that
holds the country together." That SET decision, he said, was the final
straw that pushed him to run for president.
The irony within this
irony is that the deciding vote for Poe was cast by Sen. Pia Schramm
Cayetano, Alan Peter’s sister, who voted on the issue of whether a
foundling is a Philippine citizen because she herself adopted a
foundling, Lucas, in 2011.
After the SET vote,
Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano blasted Sen. Poe for “willing to bend the laws”
in her desire to become president. “Definitely, she has a desire to
become a president. But for me, my friendly advice is balance your
desire to be president on what might be its effect on the Constitution
and the law,” he said. Prophetic words.
So, Mr. President, what
does the Philippine Constitution and the law say about you appointing
another non-Philippine citizen as your next Secretary of Foreign
is a natural-born Filipino who became a US citizen in 1981 and who then
reacquired his Philippine citizenship in 2003 to become a Dual Citizen.
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