Filipino Americans or Ex-Americans Running in PHL Polls; Comelec Sets Rules as Stars Join Races

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SEN. GRACE POE files her COC for President with runningmate, Sen. Francis Escudero.

By ALFRED G. GABOT and JO ERLINDA G. NEBRES
Special to Philippines Today
MANILA (PHLTODAYUSA) – It is again a star-studded elections on May 9, 2016.
This as many actors, actresses and celebrities have filed their certificates of candidacies for various posts, many of them seeking reelection.
At least four of the candidates are Filipino Americans or former Americans while one, Rep. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao, made his mark in the United States.
The four former Americans running in the elections is led by Sen. Mary Grace Poe Llamanzares, adopted daughter of the late Movie King Fernando Poe Jr. and actress Susan Roces, who is running for the highest post of the land following the footsteps of her late father.
The other three are actor, television show host and former Makati City Vice Mayor Eduardo “Edu” Barrios Manzano, who was born in San Francisco, California; outgoing Batangas Governor Vilma Santos-Recto and Valenzuela City Councilor Charee Pineda, all of whom are now Filipino citizens.
Senator Poe, who is leading the surveys of presidential hopefuls, took up US citizenship after she studied and worked there and later married her husband in the US. She became a dual citizen later under a new law but renounced her US citizenship eventually when she was appointed Chairman of the Movie, Television Review and Censors Board.
The citizenship of Senator Poe and her residency are both in question and the issue could hound her during the election campaign. Ironically, her late father, Fernando Poe Jr., also faced a similar question of US citizenship when he ran for president against then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, because he was an illegitimate son of his father and his mother was an American. The camp of Sen. Poe downplayed new disqualification filed against her, saying it will be the people who will decide her fate.
Due to questions on Senator Poe’s citizenship and a recent ruling of the Supreme Court disqualifying the mayor of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte, Rommel Arnado, a naturalized US citizen who renounced later his US citizenship before the Philippine consul general in San Francisco, California, the Commission on Elections has included among the requirements for filing COCs the copies of the renounciation of foreign citizenship by candidates. Senator Poe said she complied with the ruling and even included her platform of government in her filings.
There are a few pending or resolved cases involving Filipinos who were naturalized as US citizens and later renounced US citizenship and ran and won in congressional elections. They include that of Rep. Regina O. Reyes, wife of former Batangas congressman Hermilando Mandanas, of the lone district of Marinduque and Rep. Magnolia Rosa Antonino Nadres, daughter of the late Senators Gaudencio Antonio and Magnolia Antonino, of the fourth district of Nueva Ecija.
Reyes’ proclamation was annulled by the Supreme Court and the Commission on Elections on the ground that she is an American citizen but was able to take her oath before Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. who claimed that only the House Electoral Tribunal has jurisdiction over her case. Congresswoman Antonino-Nadres also exercised the duties of a member of the House of Representatives pending final resolution of their cases. It was not immediately known if Reps. Reyes and Nadres are running for reelection in the 2016 elections.
Congresswoman Reyes’ proclamation was challenged by several voters including former Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, son of Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr. Velasco, whom she defeated in the elections.
Manzano, 60, who served for four years in the US Air Force, ran for mayor against Mayor Jejomar Binay in 2001 and for vice president in the 2010 elections, also against Binay, in tandem with presidential candidate Gilberto Teodoro but lost.
San Francisco-based lawyer Rodel Rodis wrote extensively in a Philippines Today column that Manzano was born in San Francisco on September 14, 1955 of parents who were Philippine citizens, Manzano was considered a Philippine citizen under the principle of jus sanguinis (blood). But because he was born in the U.S., he was also considered an American citizen (jus soli).
When Manzano was 6, his parents brought him to the Philippines on his U.S. passport and enrolled him at the La Salle Greenhills where he graduated from elementary school in 1969 and from high school in 1972 (3 years?). At the age of 17, at the height of the Vietnam War, Manzano returned to the U.S. and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force where he served in the Missile Engineering Group of the Strategic Air Command.
After completing a 4-year stint in the U.S. Air Force, Manzano returned to the Philippines using his U.S. passport and tried his luck in showbiz. With his handsome mestizo features, Manzano succeeded in landing starring roles in movies and TV shows. (In his first movie released in 1985, Palimos ng Pagibig, he played the role of “Rodel”). He became a box-office star with his second movie, Captain Barbell, in 1986. He also hosted his own TV show, Late Night with Edu.
Manzano married A-list film stars Vilma Santos in 1980 and Maricel Soriano in 1989. His marriage with Santos produced a son, Luis, who is now also a successful actor, while he had two children with the diamond star. He was also engaged to ABS-CBN anchorwoman Pinky Webb.
According to Atty. Rodis, Manzano’s political career began when he was elected president of the Actors’ Guild of the Philippines, the Kapisanan ng mga Artista sa Pelikulang Pilipino, in 1995. A few short years later, Manzano ran for vice mayor of Makati in the May 11, 1998 elections. Two weeks before the elections, however, a private citizen named Ernesto Mamaril filed a petition with the Comelec to disqualify Manzano on the grounds that he was a dual citizen and thus barred by Section 40(d) of the Local Government Code from running for public office. On May 7, the Comelec ruled in Mamaril’s favor and ordered the cancelation of Manzano’s certificate of candidacy. The following day, on May 8, Manzano filed a motion for reconsideration which remained pending at the time of the May 11 elections which Manzano won by less than 3,000 votes over his nearest rival, Ernesto Mercado.
Manzano’s proclamation as vice mayor was suspended pending the Comelec’s decision on Manzano’s motion for reconsideration.
On August 31, 1998, the Comelec en banc reversed its prior ruling and declared, by a 4-1 decision, that Manzano was qualified to run for vice mayor of the City of Makati in the May 11, 1998 elections. The Comelec ruled that “It is an undisputed fact that when respondent attained the age of majority, he registered himself as a voter, and voted in the elections of 1992, 1995 and 1998, which effectively renounced his US citizenship under American law.  Under Philippine law, he no longer had U.S. citizenship.” The Comelec then ordered the Makati Board of Canvassers to proclaim Manzano as the duly elected vice mayor of Makati.
The losing candidate, Ernesto Mercado, immediately filed a petition for certiorari with the Philippine Supreme Court to reverse the Comelec’s decision. On May 26, 1999, the Philippine Supreme Court ruled en banc in favor of Manzano. The Court took note of the significant difference between dual allegiance and dual citizenship. A Philippine citizen who actively chooses to swear allegiance to another country cannot run for office in the Philippines but a Philippine citizen who is a dual citizen of another country because of birth can run for office in the Philippines if he renounces his citizenship in the other country.   
As the Supreme Court noted, “by declaring in his certificate of candidacy that he is a Filipino citizen; that he is not a permanent resident or immigrant of another country; that he will defend and support the Constitution of the Philippines and bear true faith and allegiance thereto and that he does so without mental reservation, private respondent has, as far as the laws of this country are concerned, effectively repudiated his American citizenship and anything which he may have said before as a dual citizen…private respondent’s oath of allegiance to the Philippines, when considered with the fact that he has spent his youth and adulthood, received his education, practiced his profession as an artist, and taken part in past elections in this country, leaves no doubt of his election of Philippine citizenship.
The Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of Manzano dismissing Mercado’s petition for certiorari.
In 2001, Manzano ran for Makati mayor and lost to the incumbent, Jojo Binay. In 2004, he was appointed chairman of the Optical Media Board, serving until 2009 when he was selected as the running mate of the administration party’s presidential candidate, Gilbert Teodoro.
 Governor Vilma Santos, who is concluding her third and final term as governor of Batangas, was reported to be a US citizen on a website of an American lawyer who presumably had reportedly worked out her citizenship either as a person with imminent qualification or due to relationship with an American citizen. It was never reported, however, that the first lady governor of Batangas who is running for congresswoman in the lone district of Lipa City, lived at length in America and took up her US citizenship.
Valenzuela Councilor Pineda, an actress who started in ABS-CBN and later moved to GMA Network whose real name is Crissha Charee Morrison Pineda, is seeking reelection in the City Council. She replaced another celebrity, Shalani Soledad, when she ran for congresswoman but lost. Soledad, a former television host, has since been married to Rep. Roman Romulo of Pasig City who is a candidate for senator.
There were allegations in the past that some Philippine senatorial candidates like then Senators Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Alfredo Lim and Vicente “Tito” Sotto and Rep. Luis Asistio were either Green Card holders or US Citizens because they owned real estate properties in America. In the case of the late Fernando Poe, Jr. and Sens. Alan Peter Cayetano and Juliana Pilar Cayetano, and the Osmenas, they became US Citizens because their parent or parents or grandparents were US citizens.


This as former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, world boxing icon and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao, Sen. Vicente Tito Sotto, Quezon City Congressman Alfred Vargas, Leyte Congresswoman Luci Torres-Gomez, Batangas Governor Vilma Santos-Recto, former Pampanga governor Mark Lapid and former Laguna Governor ER Ejercito lead the show business personalities and celebrities who are vying for various posts.
As the filing of certificates of candidacies closed on October 16, many celebrities who were widely expected to run like presidential sister and television host and actress Kris Aquino, television host Eugenio “Boy” Abunda. Christopher de Leon, a former provincial board member of Batangas,  and comedianne Ai Ai delas Alas failed to file their CoCs. 
Pacquiao, who is in the running for a Senate seat, vowed to devote his time to his Senate work in case he is elected after his last fight early next year.
Paranaque Councilor Alma Moreno, whose real name is Vanessa Lacsamana is also running for senator under the party of Vice President Jejomar Binay. Moreno is currently the chairperson of the Philippine Councilors League whose support she is banking on.
Re-electionist Tito Sotto currently tops the surveys among senatoriables. The senator, an actor and singer, is a co-host of the long-running noontime show on GMA Network, “Eat Bulaga,” with his brother Vic Sotto.
Sotto attributed his frontrunner status in part to the show’s phenomenal AlDub love team of Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza a.k.a. Yaya Dub. He was accompanied by his wife, actress Helen Gamboa, when he filed his COC.
And so, too, is actor and former Makati City Vice Mayor Eduardo “Edu” Manzano, who is running for senator. Manzano ran for vice president in the 2010 elections but lost.
Radio and television personality Rey Langit is also running again for senator after his unsuccessful bid in the 2010 elections. Langit is with the UNA ticket of Binay.
Meanwhile, Senator Mary Grace Poe Llamanzares, adopted daughter of veteran actress Susan Roces and the late Movie King and presidential candidate Fernando Poe Jr. and a former chairman of the Movie, Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), is pursuing his late father’s dream to become president of the country.
In Manila, the country’s capital, aside from Mayor Estrada, is running for reelection and possible substitute candidate for president in case Vice President Jejomar Binay or Senator Poe are disqualified. His vice mayor, Francisco Domagoso, more popularly known as Isko Moreno, the actor who was discovered by German Moreno, has filed his COC for senator, dropping his mayoralty or vice mayoralty bid.
Other actors running in Manila are former Councilor Lou Veloso of the sixth district, incumbent Councilor Robert Ortega of the fifth district who is running for reelection and Councilor Yul Servo Nieto of the fourth district who is reportedly running for congressman.
In Quezon City, the wealthiest city in the Philippines with P15 billion in annual revenues, actor-comedian Herbert Bautista shelved his senatorial ambitions and instead opted to run for reelection for this third and final three-year term.
Known as the City of Stars, Quezon City also has Councilors Roderick Paulate, Gian Carlo Sotto, Diorella Maria “Lala” Sotto, Precious Hipolito Castelo, a FAMAS best child actress in 1988; Franz Pumaren, former basketball player and coach; and Andres Jose “Anjo” Yllana, Jr. who are all gunning for reelection.
Actor-singer Anthony Castello, who became famous for his songs “Balatkayo” and “Nang Dahil sa Pag-ibig,” is making a comeback as a councilor of the third district of Quezon City.
Castelo said he is going back to politics to introduce reforms on crime prevention for the youth and disadvantaged or vulnerable sectors of society.
“I want these sectors to have awareness and preparations for crime prevention, especially the women, so that they can be empowered in times that they are at risk with criminal elements,” he added.
In Paranaque City where actor Joey Marquez once served as mayor for many years, showbiz personalities in the City Council who are seeking reelection are Councilors Brillante Bok Inciong, a former singer; Hubert Webb, son of former Sen. Freddie Webb, who is seeking to replace his brother Councilr Jason Webb, a former basketball player, as councilor; Roselle Nava, a former actress and singer; Viktor Sotto of the Sotto clan, and John Ryan Yllana. Valdoph Quizon is running also for councilor in place of her mother Councilor Alma Moreno who is running for senator.
In Makati City which was once served by Mayor Nemesio I. Yabut, a former actor and movie producer, has reelectionist Councilor Monsour del Rosario. Singer-actor Rico J. Puno, whose real name is Enrico Puno, once served as councilor and later ran for vice mayor but was unsuccessful. Puno is now seeking a comeback as councilor.
In Muntinlupa City, actor Ronnie Rickets, who served as chairman of the Optical Media Board, is running for congressman under the UNA ticket.
  In San Juan City, actor and singer Lance Raymundo is running as councilor, along with former comedian Inday Garutay. San Juan’s mayor, Guia Gomez, is a former actress and partner of Mayor Joseph Estrada. Other celebrities running for councilor, vice mayor or congresswoman in San Juan are related to Mayor Estrada and his son, Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada. Ericka Villongco is running for councilor in San Juan.
Senator Estrada’s daughter Janella is the vice mayoralty candidate of Mayor Guia Gomez while his cousin, Jana Ejercito, is running for congresswoman against reelectionist Rep. Ronaldo Zamora.
 Pasay City has produced then popular broadcaster and television host Eddie Ilarde as Senator and basketball player Freddie Webb also as senator and many residents want actress Sharon Cuneta, daughter of long-time Mayor Pablo Cuneta, to run for mayor but has demurred.
Other cities in Metro Manila with reelectionist officials who are in show business are Pasig, Pateros, San Juan and Valenzuela City with Councilor Charee Pineda. Valenzuela had television personality Shalani Soledad as councilor but ran and lost for congressman in the last elections. Actress Charee Pineda, a Filipino American whose real name is Crissha Charee Morrison Pineda, is running for reelection as councilor in the city.
In Pateros, actress Daisy Reyes is running for reelection as councilor.
Governor Vilma Santos is running for congresswoman in the newly created lone district of Lipa City.
Other stars and celebrities running for reelection or for higher office are Cavite Rep. Lani Mercado-Revilla, Laguna Rep. Sol Aragones, a former broadcaster; and Laguna board member Angelica Jones who is running for vice governor; suspended Laguna Governor ER Ejercito who is seeking to get back to his post; Oriental Mindoro board member Lito Camo, a singer and composer; Puerto Princesa Councilor Matthew Mendoza, Pampanga Board Member Maynard Lapid, Bulacan Vice Governor Daniel Fernando and Board Member Aex Castro, Quezon Board Member Gary Estrada, Councilor Marbelyn dela Cruz of Dagupan City, Maricel Morales of Angeles City, Batangas Vice Governor Mark Leviste and San Juan City Mayor Guia Gomez, a former actress.
The former Viva Hot Babes member Andrea del Rosario is running for vice mayor in the resort town of Calatagan, Batangas.
In Ormoc City, actor Richard Gomez is running again for mayor under the Liberal Party. His wife, actress Luci Torres, is seeking another term as congresswoman in the district. 
In Angeles City, outgoing Senator Manuel Lapid is running for mayor against incumbent Mayor Eduard Pamintuan.
In Tacloban City, former actress Cristina “Kring Kring” Gonzales Romualdez, an incumbent city councilor, is running for mayor.
In Nueva Ecija, actor Rommel Padilla, father of matinee idol Daniel Padilla, returned to local politics when he filed his COC for a seat in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan representing the first district, a post he held from 2007 to 2010 under the Bagong Lakas ng Nueva Ecija (Balane).
Padilla ran and lost to Jose Gay Padiernos in the vice gubernatorial race in 2010.
While being an actor or a celebrity is a plus factor in elections, many showbiz personalities have actually failed in their recent bids like Aga Muhlach (congressman), Cesar Montano (senator and governor), Ara Mina (councillor), Rey Malonzo (mayor), Ricky Davao, Ma. Isabel Lopez, Aiko Melendez, Arnel Ignacio and a host of other personalities.
Many showbiz personalities who are not running for any position are endorsers of politicians and many like singer-actress Sarah Geronimo succeeded.
One stage personality first stood out among those successful in politics. He is former zarzuela actor and writer Diosdado Pangan Macapagal who rose to become bar topnotcher, congressman of Pampanga, diplomat, Vice President and later President of the Philippines. Macapagal became president after his brother-in-law actor Rogelio dela Rosa also of Lubao, Pampanga gave way despite his popularity at that time. De La Rosa served as senator and later Philippine Ambassador. (PhilippinesTodayUSA)

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